Ravensbourne inhabited a sleepy, suburban, low-rise brick campus on the outskirts of London but were planning a move to a purpose-built building, meticulously clad with 30,000 interlinked tiles on the Greenwich Peninsula in East London. Our task was to find a way to re-position the institution for this change, whilst bringing the internal staff and student community on board.
After six months in discussion and research, we had agreed the words they wanted to use to describe themselves, and the design process could begin. Following the tessellating patterns of Roger Penrose, the visual statement of the tiles was too powerful to ignore. The fact that, from just three shapes, so many permutations were possible, nicely echoed the education process.
We discovered that by slightly rotating the tiles, we could create a sense of movement and restlessness that seemed to fit well with the college's future ambitions. From countless permutations, we settled on half a dozen examples, in both colour and black and white.
At the first audit stages of the project, we realised that Ravensbourne, like many other design institutions, struggled to make their images and photos of students and student projects particularly unique. Every library, every computer shot seemed the same, especially after you've looked through a handful of competing prospectuses. So we developed a way to take the tiling pattern and incorporate it into student photographs that we commissioned.
Almost overnight, they gained an identity approach to logos, typography and images that could ‘glue' together elements such as folders, reports and prospectuses, and has been applied extensively online.
As the new building took shape and we attended the first of many site visits, it quickly became apparent that signage and wayfinding would prove critical to the building's success, as a viable work-and-play-place.
Because of the slightly confusing interior architecture of the building, using staggered floors more akin to a car park, we opted to use supergraphics within vast painted and stenciled shapes derived from the tiling pattern. These incorporated large floor numerals to make it clear to visitors exactly where they were at any stage of their visit.