2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Project Overview

Create a municipal wide signage strategy for the City of Whitehorse tackling identity, branding, accessibility and sustainability.
The team understood the need for the final design outcomes to strike the right balance between sustainable aspirations and the pragmatic demands of Council's corporate identity system and maintenance regimes while delivering a contemporary family of signage sympathetic to its placement within the natural and urban settings.

Project Commissioner

City of Whitehorse

Project Creator

ASPECT Studios and Studio Binocular


ASPECT Studios and Studio Binocular work in alliance on many projects that require a full compliment of our multidisciplinary team. This is who we are:

ASPECT Studios we’re committed to providing the best in creative design,for landscape architecture, urban design and environmental graphic projects.
Our studios combine to promote a culture of excellence, and passion. We build on our strong foundation of core staff. We work as a multidisciplinary team, always learning,
collaborating and debating. We are innovators. And we are leaders.
We are a young, brave.We win awards, not just for what we design but for the way we think. Every project requires considered design and process weighted to its needs and specific conditions. Sustainability is central to our practice, and we strive to realise the best possible outcomes in that critical area.
We design for people and places. Our designs acknowledge the entire lifecycle
of the project, and outperform both client and community expectations.
Constant change drives us to actively expand in new directions. We’re responsive. We find the opportunities. We work across local, regional and international markets, and our
clients include all levels of government, and the private sector.

Studio Binocular is an award winning creative team with ambitious ideas and a penchant for the lighter side of life. We bring the combined skills of writer and designer to every project, building brand personalities in a range of disciplines –from visual identities and advertising campaigns, to websites and wayfinding signage.
We design and write, we bring ideas to life, and we love a challenge.
We help universities make science and engineering seem a little more rock and roll; we rebrand water companies; we develop national brand campaigns for travel titans; and we make insurance brochures things people actually enjoy reading. If you can think of it we can most likely do it. And if you can’t think of it, then we can probably help with that too.

Project Brief

The City of Whitehorse required an entirely new family of signage for all Council branded facilities including its parks, open spaces, urban settings and buildings. Like many other Councils it had evolved its signage in an ad hoc fashion over many years. The result was a disparate collection of styles and formats that did not clearly express the City of Whitehorse brand or embody Council's vision for the municipality.

The strategy when completed, delivered to Council a complete set of assets and design guidelines ready for them to turn the key. To get there though, required extensive collaboration and consultation. Better results are the reward for perseverance and the final design outcome was testament to the meticulous process culminating in a contemporary family of signs that utilised a flexible kit of parts construction, accommodating a palette of materials for both parks and urban settings. Stone cladding was used for harder urban environments and composite timber cladding for parks and open spaces. The information panels were consistent for both and made from durable vitreous enamel. Consultation with many specialised community groups guided the design and layout of information to meet Australian Standards and DDA compliance to create a legible, accessible and engaging response.

Council’s desire for a timeless, contemporary and robust outcome required a pragmatic negotiation resulting in a family of signage that was durable and long lived with guidelines and templates that allowed council to deliver a consistent branded identity for the whole municipality.

Project Innovation / Need

Extensive consultation with Council's maintenance department was undertaken to finalise a palette of materials and construction techniques that would mitigate graffiti and reduce replacement and maintenance costs when cleaning and repairing damaged signage.

The final design adopted a kit of parts approach that utilised a common construction technique of panels fitted over an internal frame. Costs were reduced by applying the same construction detail for all signs. This meant tooling was significantly reduced and panels could be interchangeable.

Material selection underwent rigorous research to find appropriate cladding materials that were hard wearing, long lived and graffiti resistant.
A composite timber product was chosen over natural timber as its properties matched and surpassed timber. Made from recycled timber waste, the composite was self extinguishing and would not rot or become water logged.
A concrete cladding was chosen for the urban palette that closely resembled stone and could be impregnated with an invisible graffiti coating allowing it to be high pressure cleaned which reduced the need for solvents and cleaners.
The signage panels were printed on vitreous enamel another long lasting and durable material that is colour fast and requires no solvents or harmful cleaners when removing graffiti or cleaning.

Design Challenge

1. Creating an accessible and legible visual language including symbols, pictograms and heads up maps that complied with Australian and DDA standards.

2. Working with Council to develop a palette of natural materials that could function in high traffic and out door conditions and still retain their integrity over numerous years.

3. Negotiating with multiple stakeholders to attain a consistent vision and design outcome.


Sustainability is many things to many people, it can be the materials used or the programs that a design promotes. The City of Whitehorse Signage Strategy encompasses many sustainable initiatives. The use of recycled materials, efficiencies in fabrication and implementation saved resources and materials.

The life span of materials coupled with a design that was both contemporary and refined, promoted the idea that signage could outlive the short term and be long lived and timeless. Panels were also divided so as to allow for information to be updated without the whole sign be replaced.

The wayfinding component of the project sought to reduce small car trips by enabling community capacity to better plan and negotiate travel around the municipality and link public transport services.

This award recognises traditional or digital visual representation of ideas and messages. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching information style to audience.
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