Gateshead BAAF

In April 2010, Gateshead Council launched its three-year £36 million ‘Building An Active Future’ (BAAF) initiative. The project aim was to develop and rebuild leisure centres throughout the borough, giving people in the community access to top-class facilities, and encouraging them to improve their fitness, health and wellbeing.

Working with:
Client: Gateshead Council
Architect: S & P Architects
Contractor: Willmott Dixon


The project timeline:
April 2010: Gateshead Leisure Centre
September 2010: Blaydon Leisure Centre
September 2010: Gateshead Indoor Bowling Centre
November 2010: Heworth Leisure Centre
March 2011: Dunston Leisure Centre
April 2011: Dunston Activity Centre
July 2011: Birtley Swimming Pool
July 2011: Gateshead Stadium
November 2011: Birtley Pavilion

External signage and information graphics at Blaydon Swimming Pool
The door signage and external graphics at leisure centres need to be clear, robust and easy-to-update
Internal signage and information graphics include pictograms for ease of navigation
Directional signage and information graphics are positioned above doors for added visibility in busy public spaces like gym facilities

Each signage scheme for the BAAF initiative was evaluated, assessed and approved for inclusivity by the Gateshead Access Panel, whose focus is ‘access for all.’

Clear signage and information graphics indicate areas within a swimming pool facility
Paper inserts provide flexible and easily updatable signage and information graphics for leisure centres
3D signage and information graphics provide direction around this leisure centre
The use of Braille on this door sign is part of an accessible signage and information graphics scheme
Wayfinding and signage with pictograms to indicate the location of accessible toilets
Pictograms indicate where the toilets are in this wayfinding and signage scheme
Braille is used on the door signs in this inclusive and accessible wayfinding and signage scheme
Wayfinding and signage in pool areas indicates no diving, using robust chlorine-proof materials
Clear signage and information graphics in swimming pools indicates water depth
Window manifestations display Gateshead Council's logo on the sports facility doors

What our client said:

“The overall impact has been to provide an informative and elegant solution consistent with the design of the buildings.

Gary Livsey | Sport & Leisure Manager

Gateshead | Building An Active Future Initiative

In April 2010, following a competitive pitch, Picto won the contract to design, manufacture and install signage and information graphics across a range of new and redeveloped sports and leisure facilities as part of Gateshead Council’s ‘Building An Active Future’ initiative.

Signage to attract and engage new members

At the start of the project we worked with the council’s marketing department and sport and leisure manager who identified that the signage scheme at the facilities to have the look and feel of that at a private gym or club. It needed to be attractive and engaging, and work to support the marketing department’s branding.

The first stage of the project involved developing the signage and information graphics for two brand new leisure centres in Blaydon and Heworth, and three refurbished leisure centres in Gateshead, Dunston and Birtley. The project then expanded, and we developed new internal signage for Gateshead Stadium and for several smaller refurbishments, including an indoor bowling centre and football pavilion.

Using robust and flexible signage in leisure facility buildings

The initial project scope required the design and development a robust and inclusive signage scheme that would make it easy for visitors to find their way around the leisure facilities.

We needed to consider the fact that some aspects of the signage – like the opening hours, class timetables and events – would change on a regular basis and so needed to be easy to update.

The challenges of a chlorinated environment

It’s worth noting that any signage within a swimming pool area needs to be able to withstand the corrosive effects of a chlorinated environment. It must also resist high levels of humidity, and endure the physical wear and tear of a busy public space. In addition, legibility is key, as many people will remove their glasses or contact lenses before entering a swimming pool.

Selecting appropriate materials and manufacturing techniques

Employing our existing knowledge and experience of wayfinding for leisure facilities around the UK, we advised on investing in signage materials, manufacturing techniques and finishes that would give robust, durable – and long-lasting results. To further protect the signage from potential damage and public interference we used either concealed or tamper-resistant fixings throughout the scheme.