Signage system Swiss Re Munich
Intuitive orientation
Client Swiss Re Year 2001 Focus Wayfinding & signage systems Bothe Richter Teherani; Hamburg Contractor Intégral Ruedi Baur, Paris / Swiss Re Deutschland, Munich Project type Realisation unit Task Conception, design, planning, realisation Project partner Conception and graphic design: Ruedi Baur/ studio intégral, Isabelle Naegele and Peter Eckart / Product design and realisation: unit-design / Architecture: Bothe, Richter, Teherani, Hamburg / Landscape architecture: Martha Schwarz unit Employee Peter Eckart, Bernd Hilpert, Hendrik Tovar, Heidrun Althen, Markus Wierzoch Photography Myrzik and Jarisch

The new German headquarters of the re-insurance company Swiss Re were designed by the Hamburg architect Bothe Richter Teherani. Constructed in 2001, the building comprises a core, four wings and is encased by a high-tech glass facade. By the virtue of its structural design, it separates public domains from working domains. To sign the building areas and hence offer orientation, large graphics have been applied straight onto the glass facade. Sections of the orientation system also perform additional functions: A parametrically altered flora structure provides a light shield by filtering the shining sunlight. It also lends the typography a characteristic, ornamental surface.

A subjective guidance level has been incorporated for users and personnel. Anyone approaching the location they are looking for in an area familiar to them will not need the objective information provided by a sign. In a familiar, recognisable atmosphere, subjective elements can be tree, a building, an advertising sign. The building orientation system in Swiss Re’s headquarters uses discrete colour or picture and word markings or art exhibits to perform this function.

The flexible signage elements created by unit-design demonstrate the character of markings or insignia. Elusively coloured, lustrous glass elements with CNC-milled, permanent room signs become a fixed part of the architecture like calibration marks. The architectural split into a public and a pure working area means explanations and complex information can be kept to the bare minimum. The orientation system follows the architecture and hence the distinct separation between the central public domains created as a circle and the satellite structure of the working domains. The result is two different marking systems. Most of the orientation signs in the working areas are marked “Kerne” [cores] and “Units”. The dimensions and colours of the typographical elements have created a clear information hierarchy here. The cores and units themselves bear large, coloured markings and their sub-units are identified by smaller typography with irregular structure. “Helvetica rounded bold condensed” and “Univers 55 regular” are the selected fonts for the signage system.