Signage as playful educational interaction

Whenever lettering is to be used in a school building in order to identify rooms and help orientation, alongside the demands of the signage, a playful game with letters seems a logical option; it in this building that children first learn to read and write correctly. For the new Altenstadt elementary school Atelier Andrea Gassner literally wove the signage design together with the architecture and the tactile materials that are left in their natural state. We see letters cut out of solid ash with laser, in the form of colourful upholstered furniture or glowing yellow plexiglass with magical colour reflections – between the panes of the glazing. The Atelier developed a special typeface that is based on the method of learning how to write. The beautifully shaped upper-case letters are divided into two elements in accordance with the momentum of this method. In the seating in the large courtyard the game played with the shapes of the letters is especially effective when seen from the upper floor. The cushions for lying or sitting on and for exercising are revealed as words formed from the letters of the two words “PAUSE” (break) and “INSEL” (island). The furniture can be moved around and arranged in different ways, creating anagrams and entirely new words. As well as being recognizable from afar on account of their glowing colours the almost wall-height capital letters on the facades are also effective impact protection. The clouds of words beside the entrances to the classrooms are like ornamental wall graphics. The columns of numbers and words stacked above each other at the classrooms doors are a simple plug-in system that can be used to make different room names. This is all serves orientation and direction in and around the building but is also, quite consciously, a playful educational interaction and perception. With this design Atelier Andreas Gassner operates in both a creative and interdisciplinary way: between space and graphics, between systematics and design, between play and teaching.