Wayfinding: Harris Garden

MA in Information Design - Wayfinding - Harris gardens

This is the first in a series of posts about the projects I’ve been doing as part of my Masters in Information Design at the University of Reading.

Information design is a diverse subject that takes in many discip­lines. One of those is wayfind­ing — the art and psycho­logy of lead­ing people in the right direc­tion, whether they want to wander free and come back again, or get some­where in the fast­est possible way.

My univer­sity project was an almost‐botanical garden on the University of Reading campus, the Harris Garden.

In my research I learned that the university’s campus had once been the agri­cul­tural canvas of a notori­ous 18th century noble­man — the Marquis of Blandford — who in an attempt to rival Kew gardens, went bank­rupt doing up the grounds of his estate — now the univer­sity campus. He never finished his project, but to me it seemed like the Harris Garden was carry­ing on his legacy and ambi­tion.

Improving usability in the Harris Garden

Wayfinding project: map of the Harris Garden with new paths and featuresThere were several issues we exper­i­enced when trying to navig­ate the Harris Garden in the soggy, freez­ing cold of winter (lucky us!). The biggest was the paths. This new map recom­mends several new ones, includ­ing the exten­sion of the main path to a full circuit of the garden — in real­ity it only semi‐circles the park — ending at the cherry bowl and the stream.

I also wanted to add paths that would take people through areas of seasonal interest, but wouldn’t be as perman­ent as the main path.

The second biggest chal­lenge to navig­a­tion were a number of ‘off‐limit’ areas, mean­ing we faced a lot of dead ends in our explor­a­tion. I recom­mend low, remov­able barri­ers so main­ten­ance crew can still access these areas, but the ordin­ary visitor is discour­aged.

A new welcome mono­lith sign explains who the garden is for, invit­ing people in. The map is currently on the right hand side as you walk through the gate, where the view is obstruc­ted and you can’t get a full idea of the extent of the garden. So I moved the large map further into the garden, but still visible from the entrance.

Plinths with inform­a­tion about the Harris Garden and the Marquis of Blandford’s attempts at decad­ent garden­ing are scattered at key junc­tions, as they also act as wayfind­ing posts to inter­est­ing features in the garden.

Sign family for the Harris Garden

What do you think of this project? Are there any parks near you that you think could be improved? 

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Corinne Pritchard

Corinne Pritchard

Information Designer at Simply Understand
I believe design and design­ers can and should make the world a better place. I love design­ing things that help people under­stand complex ideas.
Corinne Pritchard

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