The sense of belonging – a series

We are publishing a series of posts on our social media platforms to illustrate how we work to achieve what we call ‘the sense of belonging.’

It’s an insight into how we work. It could also help readers who aren’t familiar with wayfinding and environmental design to understand what’s involved in the discipline and why it really matters.

This short piece describes the way we enjoy approaching our projects and what we aim to achieve.

“A good environmental image gives its possessor an important sense of emotional security. He can establish an harmonious relationship between himself and the outside world.”

Kevin Lynch, pioneer of Environmental Psychology and Environmental Design, in his seminal book The Image of the City 1959

At first thought to link ‘environmental image’ and ‘emotional security’ is a big claim. We usually link feeling emotionally secure with people and relationships. But just think about places you feel good in and places you don’t.

It’s not about familiarity. There are familiar environments that feel alienating and threatening. And there are unfamiliar ones where you feel at home. There’s just something right about them.

When we work on a new wayfinding and environmental design project, we pay a great deal of attention to the place. We find the clues that lead to, as Kevin Lynch describes it, the ‘good environmental image’ at the root of emotional security in that place. We search for what belongs there.

We explore the identity of the environment itself and the stories embedded in it. There are always rich stories if you have the curiosity to look, the sensitivity to spot them and then the imagination to weave them into wayfinding installations – be they orientation maps, directional or regulatory signage or naming signage.

Success means people using the space feel comfortable there. In other words, as we see it, they achieve a sense of belonging.

In our series we share snapshots that reveal how we think about the details that deliver identity – the harmonious relationship – that feels right to place and people.

We hope you enjoy them.