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? 

The follow­ing two tabs change content below.

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.

Latest posts by Corinne Pritchard (see all)

One thought on “Wayfinding: Harris Garden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.