The complex street pattern in the city centre can be confusing. Memorable buildings, spaces and sculptural details are helpful, as shown in a recent publication commissioned by the County Council to support the case for a culture-led approach to the Transforming Cities Fund programme6, but should be complemented by more conventional wayfinding systems.
Most elements of the current wayfinding system have been in place for 15 years, are hard to maintain, contain some out-of-date information and do not reflect current best practice. Norwich Business Improvement District recently coordinated a pilot project to re-skin some of the totem signs with new intuitive mapping where the maps are orientated according to the position of the viewer in the street with recognisable landmark buildings drawn in three-dimensions. A project to replace or upgrade the system is in the Transforming Cities programme. This will be complemented by the project to improve wayfinding on the riverside walk that is under development, funded by the community infrastructure levy.
The large size of the city centre leads to dividing it into areas, each with a particular character. The map opposite shows the areas that are familiar from tourist maps with one difference – it is proposed that the Creative Quarter is expanded beyond St Crispins Road to encompass the whole of Magdalen Street and St Augustines Street and the area known historically as Over the Water. This adjustment would chime with planning initiatives to reconnect the areas by diminishing the severance caused by the inner ring road. The recent replacement of the subway at the top of St Georges Street with parallel crossings for cyclists and pedestrians was a significant first move.
Analysing the configuration of walking routes, plains, public gardens and destinations is one way to identify where people need help with orientation. These places, where the features of a replacement wayfinding system could be located, are marked on the map. It will be important to check this by finding out from different users of the city centre where they need guiding information and the best format for presenting it.
6 Public art / public realm: a culture-led approach to the Greater Norwich Transforming Cities Fund programme, Urban Movement and Out Design (2019)