August 06, 2019

Bridgwater Lakes: A mini case study on way-finding design

General

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Background:

After acquiring a new project for Bridgwater Lakes, Nadi revisited site elements such as kiosks and entrances to produce a cohesive design language for the Bridgwater development.

Team:

• Nadi

Consultants and contractors:

• Shelmerdine

Project Budget:

Approx. $17,000

Introduction:


When I joined Nadi in 2011, the firm had just started. I fondly remember a small project where I was allowed to redesign an information kiosk with a colleague for Bridgwater Lakes—a new development in the south of Winnipeg, MB.


Project Conceptualization:


I went to Bridgwater Forest, an adjacent neighbourhood in the development of Bridgwater, to look at how another firm designed the information kiosk. I took measurements and studied its construction to identify issues the client had with the final built product. I analyzed every nut and bolt on the kiosk to understand what the problem was.


While I admired the kiosk’s height and construction, I recognized how Nadi could improve upon its design. After taking a few pictures and a lot of notes, detailing my impression of the kiosk, I went back to the office, excited to start on the new design. I reviewed my field notes and the pictures I took with my iPhone. I thought about how I felt while looking at the kiosk and whether it proved functional as a wayfinding feature.


Even now, I remember what kind of materials the other firm used to construct it. They designed the kiosk with two short pillars around four feet in height and built them using concrete cinder block and cladded in manufactured stone veneer. The pillars were over eight feet in the centre, and each pillar supported a metal post where a horizontal metal beam ran across the top joined by the trellis’ wooden purlins. The smooth shaped wayfinding sign hung from this metal beam.


I discussed my impressions with a colleague. I felt it was too bulky of a structure for its purpose, i.e. to display a graphic map of the neighbourhood for people to orient themselves. Moreover, I felt like the other firm used way too much metal in the posts, including for the purlins, which held up the wooden joists that formed the top of the trellis.


Another issue, which I noted, was the imposing way the sign was connected. It was hung perpendicular from the purlins attached to the posts, obscuring the view from the back. Finally, the colour of the wooded joists had faded significantly from the sun, causing the trellis structure to look older than the rest of the kiosk.


To start the redesign process, I researched examples of what other design firms had created in neighbourhoods, similar to Bridgwater. However, to keep a consistent design language between each neighbourhood, we decided to refine the design of the new kiosk, using the same materials.

 

When it came to developing concepts, I sketched out ideas based on addressing the main issues I had identified on-site with the current kiosk. During this process of sketching and comparing plans with my colleague, we decided to change the way we mounted the sign on the kiosk. We updated it from a perpendicular angle to an angle where the viewer could still see the landscape behind it. Placing the sign at this angle fundamentally changed the design of the kiosk, making it less imposing and more readable.


When we moved into design development, we worked off of the final sketches and further streamlined the kiosk structure by eliminating the metal and beams that supported the wooden purlins of the trellis. Our team decided to remove the wood trellis on and use metal purlins so that components of the kiosk would not weather faster than others.


Project Realization:


The kiosk we designed for the Bridgwater Lakes Neighbourhood, like its predecessor, possesses two short pillars constructed using concrete cinder blocks and cladding in manufactured stone. However, we used black powder-coated steel posts centred inside the pillars and filled with concrete for structural integrity.

Two sturdy horizontal metal brackets connected the steel posts to steel purlins of the metal trellis. We lowered the top of the kiosk sign significantly to just over four and a half inches and angled it with the top of the sign further away than the bottom from the viewer. We set the sign at an angle for viewers (of different heights) to comfortably view the sign.


The kiosk has an overall height of fewer than eight feet, and it sits on top of a concrete pad. Two concrete piles support the pillars. We matched the existing materials such as the pillar's veneer and the black steel used in construction to keep a consistent design language through Bridgwater.


Conclusion:


We executed this project smoothly, and it had no other issues or problems with its construction—years later, it still looks excellent on-site.


The new kiosk Nadi designed for the Bridgwater Lakes neighbourhood addressed the issues we noted on the site visit, including reducing the bulkiness of the structure, ensuring it complemented the environment and giving people the ability to see the nature behind it.