Context With its long industrial history of coal and steel, the city of Ostrava (in the tri-national border region Czech Republic – Poland – Slovakia) was long referred to as the »black city« or »steel backbone« of the Czech Republic and former Hapsburg monarchy. On the site of the decommissioned Karolina colliery, the 32-ha. surface area of which extends up to the city centre, a new district of residential, office and commercial buildings is rising up, to be completed by 2015. The architectural highlight here is the shopping centre designed by architects OMA (Rem Koolhaas). A signage system is to be developed for both the district and the mall itself, underscoring the unique aspect of the site whilst at the same time facilitating orientation in the newly-created environment. The shop- ping centre was opened on 21 March 2012.
Overall concept A comprehensive concept was developed for the new site, incorporating both the exterior area and the shopping mall. The system comprises information points in the form of portals and pylons with floor plans, floor overviews and service information, as well as informative signposts and destination confirmation signs. At the same time the signage system was augmented to include designs for exterior fixtures such as street lamps, bus stops, benches and litter bins.
Information bearers Slim, black and rectangular surfaces surrounded by radi- ant blue edging define the underlying language of the information elements: reduced and technical. In combina- tion with an intricate, »steely« cool lettering, the result is a particularly distinctive appearance. The accentuated length of the directional arrows with tapering lines and their unusual positioning on the signs underscore the ref- erence to movement and communication – providing identity for the new district with its mixed usage. The cho- sen font is characterised by an even body, strict geo- metry and pointed shape.
The interaction between form, materials, light and graphics reflects the fascination between the material and the immaterial that the mining and transformation of coal into steel and electricity evokes. An expressive, futuristic visualisation of these elements can be seen in the floor numerals of the overview columns and the large-format pictograms in the sanitation areas.
Pictogram system The direct proximity to Poland and Slovakia means that numerous foreign language-speaking visitors are anti- cipated in Ostrava in particular. A uniform pictogram family provides information about different forms of transport, infrastructure and leisure activities.
Client Multi Development Czech Republic a.s.
Architecture OMA (concept shopping center)
Planning period 2011–2012
Scope of services Conceptual design, Design
Scope of realisation Overviews, Signposts, Destination confirmations, Pictogram system
Project participants Nathanaël Gourdin, Katy Müller, Daniel Perraudin, Felix Wissing