The Use of Signs in Landscaping

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019  2017-Sep-14 15:59:50

As a medium of information dissemination, signs are a part of the urban environment and landscape, and they are important members in the category of environmental facilities. In modern urban landscape, there are many signs, such as the common signboard, direction board, display board, explanation board, notice, name tag, etc. They serve to guide the route for visitors, provide the necessary information and other functions as an indispensable part of modern landscape.

1.The Types of Signs

According to the roles and functions they play in the landscape, signs can be divided into five types: signboard, direction board, explanation board, publication board, and notice.

(1) Signboard: Signboard appears at the entrance of the specific facility of the park. On the signboard is the name of the park and the facility, as well as locations, which is intended to help tourists understand the overall layout of the park and confirm the certain facility and its name.

(2) Direction Board: Direction board generally appears on the side of the road to indicate distance, direction and time. The purpose is to offer guidance for tourists to determine their routes and their locations in the park.

(3) Explanation Board: Explanation board is commonly set in the park or outside the building for publication and advertising. On the board are mainly word descriptions that explain the history and construction scale of the park, or introduce some important ancient architecture to tourists.

(4) Publication Board: Publication board includes slogan board, exhibition board, science knowledge explanation board, bulletin and publication gallery, which are a kind of facility for publication and education in the landscape. Publication board can demonstrate the results of national construction, science and technology, culture and sports, etc. Therefore, it is one of the ways to promote education of ideology, politics, science, technology and culture. Generally, it will be a combination of words and pictures to attract tourists and impart knowledge. Because such boards are light, small, flexible and versatile, they save space and money, and create beautiful environment. Therefore, they can be placed in various kinds of parks, gardens and green spaces whether scattered or at one spot. People would consider them as a form of publication tool. Moreover, they can display information whether it be day or night, so they are also a publication tool that has high utilization rate and outstanding results. Therefore, publication board is the most commonly used facility in green space.

(5) Notice: To prevent disasters, protect the environment and maintain public morality, notice is commonly used. Notice mainly includes warning sign and administrative sign. Warning sign is set up for safety concerns. Such signs appear in the dangerous places of a park, beast infested areas, and unclimbable mountains. Eye-catching yellow signs are often used to warn tourists. Administrative sign is for telling tourists about administrative rules and opening hours of the park, as well as common knowledge concerning social morality. For example, a management sign can say to not pick flowers and to not tread on grass in the park. Such notice should be simple in design and easy to read, mostly expressing information through pictures.

2.Sign Materials

Materials used to make signs should be durable and can withstand the weather. There are many proper sign materials, both artificial and natural.

(1) Artificial materials include cement, cast iron, stainless steel, aluminum, plastic cement, etc. Of these materials, cement is economical, solid and durable but too heavy, generally used to build large signs or make natural-looking materials with certain treatment. Other metals like stainless steel are lightweight and beautiful but cannot be used for a long time, so they are often set under eaves or covered with paint for protection.

(2) Natural materials include wood, bamboo, stone, etc. Of these materials, wood can reflect the nature of plants and match the surrounding plants, making it a common material for signs. But wood is easy to decay, and therefore requires artificial protection. Bamboo can directly show the features of bamboo, and is good for buildings located by a bamboo forest. Stone is more simple and stable, and can be put around a rock landscape.

3.Standards of Choosing Materials

The choice of artificial or natural materials should be based on the environment surrounding the sign. Signs beside modern buildings should be made of artificial materials to match the environment, whereas signs in an ancient garden should be made of natural materials.

4.Sign Design and Application

(1) Selection of Shape of the Sign: Signs can not only send message to the public and give introduction, but also serve as decoration, guide and a way of separating space. Therefore, when choosing the design of their shapes, we should consider the uniform style for easy identification and individual features for other purposes. There is no fixed shape, because various shapes are designed based on local environment and situation to ensure environmental harmony. For example, a sign on the grassland made of the cross section of a round wood makes people feel simple and natural. Publication gallery and bulletin can adopt straight lines, curves and arcs in design based on surrounding environment. The forms can be one-sided, double-sided, three dimensional or print. In crowded places, signs should be set up slightly away from the path so that readers will not interrupt pedestrians. In summer, signs should also be sheltered by trees. The size of the sign depends on the content. If the content needs to be read closely or in detail, then the distance between the upper end and the lower end of the sign should be 1.2-2.2 meters. And the gallery should be at least about 2.3 meters high.

(2) Content of the Sign: The content should be concise, simple and bright. It should be properly designed and consistent with the colors being used. Pictures and graphics should be the main part of the sign because they can directly send the message and impress people. When words are used, the size of the words should be proper and in line with relevant standards, and the sentences should be concise. The colors being used and displayed should be highly visible. Generally, the colors of the words can be best visible when such colors are highly different from the colors in the background. In other words, the background color and the word color should be complementary colors like red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple, etc.

In places with many environmental facilities, signs should be like sculptures and integrated into clocks, doors, lighting, pavilions, galleries, and other buildings to expand space and conjure up rich images. For the convenience of display content replacement, light setting, maintenance, management and prevent rains from entering the sign, we should consider a good way of opening the sign and its airtight seal in design.

(3) Selection of Location of the Sign: The main function of the sign is allowing tourists to easily read the message from the designer, and that is why a sign should be located at a spot with maximum visibility. It should be easily found but not sticking out too much from the environment. Therefore, the sign should be on the side of the path, at the center of crossroads, the entrance and exit of buildings and public places like squares, where tourists often pass. In scenic areas and ancient building protection areas, size and height of signs are specified.

The sign should be designed in a way that the core content of the sign is of the same height of the tourist’s sight line, especially for complex tourist map. Simple signs can be lifted or lowered to make them more interesting. Signs should be placed in crowed places, such as entrance and exit of squares, plazas, crossroads, before the buildings, near pavilions and galleries, beside benches and chairs. In addition, they can be integrated into retaining walls, garden walls, flowerbeds, flower vessels and landscape. Although signs should be set up in places where people always pass by, readers of the signs should not interrupt passers-by. Therefore, signs should best be placed out of the path. There should be an open ground before the signs for the readers to stop and read. The ground should be flat and covered by trees to provide better reading environment. The normal height of human sight line is 1.4-1.5 meters, and the height of the main display area of the publication board should be within this range to provide comfortable reading experience.

(4) Matching Signs with Plants: In landscape design, signs should first be in line with the overall style of the landscape. Beside regular style green space should be signs with regular shapes. Beside natural style garden should be signs with natural forms. At the same time, signs and surrounding plants in a small area should match properly. Different plants should be used to match different signs, so that there are both contrast and unity.