EPAL (Portuguese Water Company)
Nuno Gusmão (creative director); Pedro Anjos (project manager); Miguel Matos, Mário Videira, Joana Gala (designers)
Demetro a Metro (wall paintings, vinyl film, exterior totems), Electro Estúdio (parking pavement paintings)
Gonçalo Byrne Arquitectos (architects)
P-06 Atelier’s wayfinding design project for the new EPAL Central Laboratory (the Portuguese Water Company), was developed in partnership with the architect Gonçalo Byrne. The building contains two upper floors of laboratories, as well as a parking level.
The content and use of the building served as the designers’ conceptual starting point. The graphic world of chemical equations, with their distinctive contractions and formal representations, was transposed onto the wayfinding system through contractions of names and differences in scale used for the typography. The building’s identity, Lab C, also developed from this visual vocabulary.
On the two laboratory floors, primary destinations are identified by large-scale typography suitable for distant reading, with names represented like chemical equations. Color was used to simplify and organize the space and signage. Because the interiors are defined by corridors and intersections, the use of the project’s signature bright blue on one side of hallways aids in wayfinding. Sign text is cut vinyl applied directly to the walls.
On the parking floor, the blue wall is always on the left side of motor traffic, which simplifies the logic and perception of space and supports directional information such as “One Way,” “Entrance,” etc. White walls support site-specific information, indicating dedicated parking spaces and the exit. Crosswalks are a blue-painted “carpet” that invites visitors into the interior blue volume.
“The jury deduced that the designers did not have a lot of choice when it came to the color chosen for this project. How this color has been used––so bold and yet not overpowering––is a testament to how well it has been handled. The typography and layout of information are both playful and minimal, wholly appropriate for the use of the building. The spaces are clean and yet expressive, and we felt that finding this balance was a challenge that the designers met with gusto.”
“Scientific, technological, analytical—yet vibrant, informative, and alive. Excellent strategy creating an impactful atmosphere.”