Featured Project: Bringing Attention to History

Visitors can scan the QR code and listen to the podcast, which can then be updated or changed completely without having to re-make the sign.

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Today’s featured project comes to us from Philadelphia-based VSBA Architects & Planners, an architectural planning and design firm.

The Cumberland County (New Jersey) Cultural and Heritage Commission wanted to bring attention to its historic structures and sites-including a number of historical homes, the Millville Army Air Field and Museum, the 17th century Swedish Granary, the East Point Lighthouse, the Garton Road Shul, banks, and churches, all publicly accessible. For each site, they scripted and recorded a five-minute interpretive podcast, which would serve in place of a headset audio program or tour guide. The question was then, how to let people know about and access the podcasts?

VSBA was asked to design a signage system for 15 initial locations, with the idea that other sites would be included in the program later. Each sign identifies its location and features a prominent QR code-which, when scanned by a smartphone or other device, links to the appropriate podcast. Instead of traditional interpretative signage, this method allows content to change without having to change the sign.

The large-scale QR code and place name appeal to passing cars and distant viewers, while smaller text and design details address pedestrians reading and scanning the sign. VSBA carefully tested full-scale mock-ups to ensure that the codes would be scannable at appropriate heights and distances.

As the company told Sign & Digital Graphics when it sent in the pictures, “We wanted the signs to be prominent but recessive, ‘contextual’ yet incongruous.  Since the same sign template would be used for many different locations, from urban to rural, our signs are designed to fit multiple contexts as overtly modern overlays. At the same time, they’re deferential to the beautiful sites they promote. We used as few colors as possible, basic white and light grey backgrounds, and discreet trompe l’oeil elements to lend some depth and playfulness to the thin signs.

The signs are constructed of vinyl laminates mounted to aluminum forms-economical, simple, and hardy. When technology or their needs change, they only have to replace the laminate instead of the whole sign.”

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SDG Staff

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