What are the visual communication requirements of a built environment? How do urban places function through graphic objects? Why is this so little understood by built environment professionals? In this book, I explore these questions through the perspective of graphic design as urban design.
By examining a number of historical and theoretical approaches, including those from graphic design historians, urban theorists and semioticians, the book exposes the difficulties with inter-disciplinary discourse about the topic. After outlining the basis of an argument, I analyse this through four key approaches: history, imageability, pattern and representamen. Each of these is supported by empirical case studies that utilize material from a photographic collection I have developed over the past decade.
Through super-imposing a graphic design perspective onto established units of urban design analysis, as well as less formal environments, Graphic Design in Urban Environments will look at the way graphic design functions as a layer of urban design, thus contributing to the way cities work.
This book not only fills a gap between the concerns of graphic communication and urban development, it also links the smaller concerns of type design with the larger ambitions of urban design through the inter-relationship of a type–typographic–graphic–urban continuum. In doing so, a framework is offered for thinking about micro–meso–macrographic urban interventions.
There are many who have supported and inspired the ideas presented here, not least the many scholars referred to in the text. I am particularly grateful to those mentioned in the acknowledgements.
List of Tables, Figures and Plates
An everyday occurrence
Who is this book for?
Origin, bias and approach
What this book is not about
An array of urban objects
Studying partial urban systems
Art and design perspectives
Adopting a perspective
Towards a graphic design stance
In the name of graphic design
Graphic design as a spatial practice
Beyond graphic design
The urban graphic object
What is urban [design]?
Graphic design’s urban history
Trajan’s Column, Rome
Johnston’s ‘Underground’ typeface
Emergent ‘environmental information systems’
An urban-graphic analogy
The city image and its [graphic] elements
Problems associated with sign and scale
Concerning mesographic analysis
Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
City of Westminster street nameplate, London
The visual dimension
Form and context
Object as pattern
The road [zebra] crossing
Ornamentation [as Unification]
From typography towards typology
The semiotic sign
Object as representamen
The function of graphic objects
Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco (1962–7, 1982–4)
La Défence, Hauts-de-Seine, France (1958–90 and to the present)
Theater District and Times Square, New York (1967–74)
Symbolic resources for changing livelihoods