As part of the Portugal’s program to modernize schools, a new building was introduced to the campus of Quinta das Flores Secondary School, to house the Artistic School of Music of the Coimbra Conservatory. The new addition not only provides a space for musical events and integrates musical lessons into the educational program but also enriches the school’s relationship with the city and its urban environment.
The design brief called for new signage system that was innovative yet functional, inexpensive to realize, and integrated with the new architecture.
Given the campus’ accommodation of a conservatory, the designers decided to focus on the school’s unique relationship to music as a starting point for the design. Inspired by the visualization of sound waves as repetitive lines, as well as the verticality of the façade windows, they created a base type comprised of vertical strips and a series of pictograms that also allude to sound.
The idea of sound intensity was translated into the design by differentiating the density of the typeface according to the numerical value of the level of the building on which it is situated; the higher the floor, the more bold the characters. This effect was achieved by a more compact arrangement of vertical lines, the alternating void and fill of the pattern also a visual interpretation of sound versus silence. The spatial character of the building— predominantly large open volumes and long corridors—made the use an oversized typeface particularly appropriate in terms of scale, also lending the signage added functionality.
The bespoke typeface was designed by R2 (Lizá Defossez Ramalho and Artur Rebelo) in collaboration with Sebastian Fischer.
ARCHITECTURE BY: José Paulo dos Santos