Brandon Primary School

The village of Brandon lies south west of Durham City. With a population of around 2,900 people, the community has strong roots in both the coal mining and agricultural industries. In 2012, Durham County Council commissioned the building of a new school in the village, to replace its existing Victorian buildings.

Working with:
Client: Durham County Council
Architect: Red Box Design Group
Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine


The project timeline:
January 2012:
Initial briefing and outline proposal
February 2012:
Manufacture and installation

Picto develops design-led wayfinding and signage in schools
Clear, bright directional external signage at Brandon Primary School
A window manifestation of Brandon Primary School's logo
A design-led environmental supergraphic decorates a corridor at Brandon Primary School

Bold 3D graphics and clear pictograms direct adults and children around the classrooms and community spaces. Door signage includes tactile and Braille graphics.

Pictograms at Brandon Primary School make it easy for school children to locate important areas in the building
Directional signs at Brandon Primary School are positioned to be clearly visible
Braille text at Brandon Primary School is indicated by small notches on door signs
Pictograms at Brandon Primary School indicate accessible toilets
Colourful and clear external signage at Brandon Primary School

What our client said:

“I am delighted with the quality of the signage provided for the school. The process was made less daunting as I felt our needs were listened to and acted upon. The support and advice I was given was also appreciated. The ideas for the manifestations and the school motto would not have occurred to me, but they are a talking point for everyone who visits the school – they look fantastic.”

Anne Chalton | Headteacher

Brandon Primary School

The new £7.2 million single-storey structure at Brandon Primary School
was designed to create a minimal carbon footprint and its siting was chosen to maximise daylight. The school also employed the latest technology to minimise energy consumption, including the use of biomass fuel, solar and thermal energy, earth tubes, and solar PV. As a result of these measures, Brandon Primary School was the first school in the country to be awarded a BREEAM rating of Outstanding

How to create a sense of belonging

Working with the architect, contractor and head teacher in the given short timeframe, Picto’s role was to develop and implement a signage scheme, within the school’s available budget. The project was relatively simple in that the internal layout of the new school required minimal wayfinding. However, as the school was a brand new build in a small community, we wanted to try and create a sense of belonging for the children in their new space.

How a regulatory need evolved into a design feature

One of the design features of the eco-friendly building was the use full-height glazing around both its perimeter and within its corridors and internal courtyards. Building regulations stipulate that glass of this type must be marked for safety, a typical solution being the application of vinyl in a spotted or striped pattern.

We decided to take this need to meet a regulatory requirement and develop it into an environmental graphic design feature of the school. Instead of spots or stripes, we created an elegant leaf pattern, which increases in complexity as the children progress through the school. In addition, we featured the school’s motto, based on a pupil’s idea to reflect the school’s respect for the environment, next to the main hall.

This manifestation worked to both create a sense of place for the children, and as partial privacy screening to ensure they were not distracted by activity in the corridors during lesson time.