Following a successful tender with wayfinding experts, PlaceMarque, Astra Group followed the brief which was to take the concept designs and develop, manufacture, and install the suite of architectural wayfinding signs to help visitors navigate Shepton Mallet with material finishes to blend in the environment seamlessly.
Over recent decades the town has lost its focus after out-of-town retail development drew the centre of gravity away from the historic shopping core. It’s an easily walkable town but most visitors drive around its edges, drawn to the out-of-town retail offer and free parking, despite the centre only being a 10-15 minute walk away.
Placemarque created a wayfinding scheme that would bring to life the stories of this historic town and highlight the town’s visitor offer, the aim was to encourage more visitors on foot to walk a little further and stay a little longer.
The work at the historical market town was delivered in partnership with wayfinding experts Placemarque with Astra Group, securing the contract on its innovative approach to design, market-leading value engineering, and a commitment to a perfect end product.
Astra Group has excelled in the technical intricacies of fabricating and installing the innovative Shepton Mallet wayfinding scheme. We meticulously approached every aspect of fabrication, adhering to the highest standards and certifications.
The town boasts significant visual landmarks, such as the viaduct, market cross, Anglo Bavarian Brewery, and Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage, forming the foundation of its new brand, influencing PlaceMarque’s signage design.
The branding of Shepton Mallet emphasises vibrant colours, embodying a personality of warmth, quirkiness, hopefulness, and boldness. Collaborating closely, PlaceMarque translated this brand identity into a comprehensive family of signs. Striking a balance between originality and clarity, the wayfinding scheme includes large map monoliths, mini monoliths, wall-mounted map signs, and directional signs.
To accentuate the brand’s vivid colors, we opted for a bronze background on the powder-coated sign structure, creating a captivating contrast. Embedded circular “heads-up” maps on the signs showcase landmarks, routes, and walking times. Gateway monoliths, inspired by the town’s brand, feature a unique 3D decorative element for enhanced visual impact, crucial for capturing the attention of car-borne visitors. Openings strategically placed along the high street signage offer glimpses of the town to passers-by.
Glass-faced maps facilitate easy updates, vital for a town undergoing potential changes outlined in an emerging masterplan. Focused on enticing visitors into the town center, PlaceMarque’s signage prioritises correct viewing distances, accessibility for pedestrians and wheelchair users, and consistent styles. “Heads-up” map displays encourage cognitive awareness, aiding people in understanding their direction within the town.
In creating the monolith signs, Astra Group’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovative manufacturing processes is vividly apparent. At the core of this is the utilisation of an internal steel subframe crafted from high-grade S355 steel, a material chosen for its exceptional strength and durability.
The meticulous crafting of this subframe adheres rigorously to the standards outlined in the BSEN1090 certification, ensuring that every component meets the highest industry benchmarks.
The monolith signage itself represents the harmonious fusion of artistry and functionality. Clad in bespoke folded aluminum and featuring an internal subframe, it stands as a testament to our dedication to both form and function. The bespoke folding of aluminum not only contributes to the aesthetic appeal but also serves a vital structural role, providing a sturdy outer layer that shields the internal elements from environmental factors. This dual-purpose design approach not only enhances the visual impact of the signage but also reinforces its durability and longevity.
One of the standout features of our monolith design is its ability to accommodate additional sign elements seamlessly, eliminating the need for visible fixings that might disrupt the clean lines and overall aesthetics. This innovative design allows for modular expansion and modification, facilitating adaptability to evolving wayfinding needs without compromising the visual coherence of the entire signage system.
The townscape featured in the design, constructed of 10mm aluminum, showcases not only our technical prowess but also our attention to detail. The dark bronze IGP E82987 powder-coated steel finish not only ensures a consistent branding identity but also represents a pioneering use of the first quality-certified high-reactive product range. This choice not only upholds our commitment to quality but also underscores our environmental responsibility, requiring less time, temperatures, and electricity when curing the paint finish and thereby reducing our ecological footprint.
The smaller monoliths further exemplify technical mastery with hidden fixings facilitated by carefully crafted slots. The use of 8mm thick low iron toughened glass not only enhances the strength of the signage ensuring a prolonged lifespan, particularly in adverse weather conditions, but it also preserves the aesthetic appeal of the monolith design.
For the wall-mounted wayfinding signs, we sought to create a visually appealing appearance without visible fixings. Leveraging CNC router technology, we grooved unwanted areas, ingeniously creating the illusion of slacks. This innovative solution not only showcases technical skills but also demonstrates our dedication to meeting aesthetic demands without compromising functionality.
In conclusion, the collaboration between Astra Signs and Placemarque in revitalising Shepton Mallet through an innovative wayfinding scheme stands as a testament to their commitment to excellence.
The meticulous design and fabrication process, driven by a fusion of artistry and functionality, have resulted in a visually striking and durable signage system that not only guides visitors but also tells the stories of this historic town.
Astra Group’s technical prowess, exemplified in the use of high-grade materials, attention to detail, and commitment to environmental responsibility, has produced a signage solution that seamlessly integrates with the town’s character.
This project not only successfully addresses the challenge of reorienting visitors toward the town center but also contributes to the town’s identity with vibrant colors, unique design elements, and adaptable structures that anticipate future wayfinding needs.
The Shepton Mallet wayfinding scheme serves as a model for blending modern design with historical context, creating a lasting impact on both residents and visitors alike.
Looking for more wayfinding inspiration? Read more about our award-winning wayfinding scheme for Wellington Place, in conjunction with PlaceMarque.
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