City tourism is booming, and Basel is no exception. Every year, the number of visitors attracted by the city's important trade fairs and famous museums continues to rise. Since the year 2000, overnight stays have more than doubled from 600,000 to 1.4 million. In addition, there are several million day trippers each year. These visitors rely on effective signage to help them navigate the city streets. For this reason, the old pedestrian wayfinding system from the 1980s is to be replaced with a new design.
Two representative visitor surveys served as a foundation for the redesign. The surveys showed that visitors appreciate a compact, legible map with high information density. They use both analogue and digital media to navigate the city. Wayfinding signage, on the other hand, is rarely used.
The new pedestrian wayfinding system for tourists in the city of Basel is based on two main elements: The first consists of newly designed city maps at five different scales and levels of detail. The entire city map is also available in digital format (iOS and Android) on Basel's geoportal. The second element consists of monolith signs and information panels in various formats. They are fitted with local area maps with a circle delineating the area within walking distance. These area maps are linked to the digital city map via QR code.
Monoliths with maps showing the entire city, allowing visitors to orient themselves at a large scale, are positioned at arrival points such as railway stations, the airport and boat landings. They include a full city map (1:10,300 scale) as well as other orientation aids such as the public transport network or a Schweiz Mobil map. An LED display provides information on current cultural events in three languages.
Further monoliths are placed in significant tourist locations. They allow visitors to navigate their immediate surroundings (1:4500 scale map). Additional signage is employed to guide the way to attractions or services that may be hard to find. The new pedestrian wayfinding system has cleaned up the clutter of signs that had accumulated in the public space over the years. The five existing old-town walking tours were adapted to visually match the new concept.
The most detailed area maps at a scale of 1:3000 were integrated into the more than 700 markers at public transport stops (BVB and BLT), thus ensuring the link between the new pedestrian wayfinding system and the public transport network.
At the information desks of Basel Tourismus and hotels, visitors receive printed city maps in two formats: A compact map in A4 size (1:11,500) displays all the attractions in the town centre. The larger city map (1:15,000) shows a wider section, allowing visitors to orient themselves at a larger scale and explore the city on their own.
The new brand "Basel Info" has the following outstanding features: All elements of information were carefully selected, visually matched and linked to each other. The overarching design approach ensures that the maps and monoliths form a unified whole.
A visual identity was defined for the maps based on the city's existing colour schemes: The city transport company's corporate colour is used for the public transport network; tourist attractions are represented in dark red, and buildings in various shades of warm grey. To increase legibility, an isometric view was chosen to depict tourist attractions and architectonic landmarks. The pictograms were designed to formally match the font "TStar Basel" (binnenland).
For the monoliths, the design and planning team developed a concept that guarantees high-quality design and execution while also considering durability and convenience: the signs are vandal-resistant, easy to dismantle (if required for certain events) and easy to maintain.
The frame is made of metal in a warm shade of dark grey-brown. The flush-fitting glass panels on both sides encase the street map. Thanks to their inconspicuous appearance, the monoliths harmonise well with the surroundings – a particularly important feature in areas with listed historic buildings.
Project study: 2013
Planning and implementation: 2013-2018
Präsidialdepartement des Kantons Basel-Stadt / Kantons- und Stadtentwicklung
Lengsfeld, designkonzepte: signage, graphic design and maps
SSA Architekten AG BSA SIA: monolith design and execution planning
Westpol, Landschaftsarchitektur: site analysis, technical data for landmarks