How can we get stakeholders from a wide range of different disciplines to understand how wayfinding needs to fit into a hospital? How do you do this for both brown- and green-field projects? And, most importantly, how do you do it in a way that people will actually use? This was the challenge given to us by Health Infrastructure NSW.
The previous TS2 (Technical Standards) was a dry summation of a rather dry, technical, signage focused approach to wayfinding: “use Helvetica, black on a white background, 50mm high”. This was a document targeted entirely at manufacturers, which meant that a wide range of critical people were left out. People like hospital operators and administrators of public hospitals, as well as the different design disciplines typically involved in a hospital project; architects, landscape designers, interior architects, builders.
In collaboration with Jacobs, we set out to write a Wayfinding for Healthcare Facilities document these different groups could pick up and use right away, at any stage in a project.
Critical to the success of the document is a shift away from focusing on signage to looking at wayfinding behaviour and how legible environments can support navigation. Starting at the planning phase, the document describes a process for developing usability and legibility, rather than a predefined outcome for it.
This allows designers more flexibility to adjust to the peculiarities of their site and demographics, while its broad approach will mean that designs can be optimised based on the latest research and best practices, rather than being stuck at the date it was written. The document contains a number of checklists for different phases of the project, letting teams work through the complex process of developing a wayfinding strategy, and to understand what is required at each point.
Seeing that the document is already referred to for projects in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, it is clear that it fulfilled a need.
We hope that the new document will make the design, development, and implementation of legible environments easier for healthcare facilities throughout NSW and Australia.