Stockton Globe

Picto has developed the wayfinding and signage for the newly redeveloped Stockton Globe in Teesside. Designed by the Newcastle-based architectural practice of Percy L. Browne, the Art Deco venue first opened in 1935 when it was known simply as ‘The Globe’. Some of the biggest names in entertainment have played there, from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Shirley Bassey and Morecambe and Wise and today the Globe is Grade II listed.

Working with:
Client: Stockton Borough Council
Architect: Space Architects
Contractor: Willmott Dixon
Operator: ATG

The project timeline:
July 2020: Approached by Stockton Borough Council and completed site visit 
August 2020: Outlined process
September 2020: Official appointment
November 2020: Presented design concepts 
November 2020 to March 2021: Design development
April 2021: Phase one – manufacture and installation of illuminated and external signs 
May 2021: Phase two – manufacture and installation of front and back of house wayfinding 
May 2021: Venue opens to the press
September 2021: Venue opens with first performance by McFly



Stockton Globe foyer with feature wayfinding
Stockton Globe auditorium illuminated signs
Stockton Globe auditorium illuminated wayfinding
The newly renovated Stockton Globe features a range of stylish pictograms developed by renowned graphic designer and typographer, Otl Aicher.



Stockton Globe foyer wayfinding
Otl Aicher pictograms at Stockton Globe
lower and mid circle signage
directional signage at Stockton Globe
wayfinding signage in art deco setting
Stockton Globe view from auditorium seating
lift sign with Otl Aicher pictogram
wayfinding within The Link
The Link toilet signage and wayfinding
large format toilet signs in The Link
The Link external illuminated signage
Stockton Globe canopy signage
Stockton Globe stage door sign writing
Stockton Globe hand painted stage door sign
Stockton Globe stage door signage
Stockton Globe back of house signage
Stockton Globe back of house wayfinding
Dressing room signage with inlaid magnetic and dry wipe board
To manufacture the illuminated signs, the graphics were laser cut into aluminium with flush inlaid opal acrylic. This was then carried through the remainder of the front of house signage.



front of house signage features  laser cut flush inlaid graphics
preparing individual letters and pictograms for power coating
Sarah, Faye and Claire finding their way around the back of house area
Stockton Globe foyer during the renovations
Sarah looks out towards the auditorium on her first visit to the site

What our client said:

“Picto have been fantastic to work with on the Stockton Globe project.

The design process was very well managed by Sarah and the result is perfect for the venue – each sign location is spot on, legible and has the information and graphics to quickly and easily support movement around the building to the places that people want to reach. 

The overall design complements the mix of art deco and contemporary styles required for the architecture of the 1930s building and new build elements of the scheme, along with a range of illuminated signs that provide attractive and effective signage for a variety of house lighting / show scenarios.”

Claire Frawley | Stockton Borough Council

Placing culture at the heart of the High Street

The reopening of the Stockton Globe follows a decade-long effort by the town’s Borough Council to renovate the Art Deco building, which fell into dereliction in 1997. 

Jointly funded by Stockton Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund to a total value of £29m, the venue is the flagship project in the Borough Council’s plans to reinvent Stockton High Street, moving from its reliance on retail to developing places for people to enjoy leisure, culture, events, and recreation.

Large venues demand clear wayfinding

When it opens, the Stockton Globe will seat 1,650 people and have a combined seating and standing capacity of over 3,000 people. For a venue to host this volume of people in comfort meant we needed to develop a clear wayfinding scheme that would direct everyone in and out of the venue at its busiest times.

Installing wayfinding within listed buildings

As with many historic buildings, the development of the Globe’s wayfinding scheme was not straightforward. We needed to find a balance between the best locations for the signage that was needed within the venue and its rich Art Deco interior. 

In addition, the design for each sign was dictated by the space available and any specific fixing restrictions. The signage scheme also needed to follow the DDA guidelines and use the colours and typefaces outlined in the venue operator’s brand guidelines.

We employed manufacturing techniques we don’t get to use very often, combining the traditional technique of flush inlaid graphics with the accuracy of laser cutting. This has resulted in signage which sits beautifully in the rich and opulent decor.

Understanding spaces, creating places

From our first site visit to the building in its unrenovated state, it was clear that pictograms would play a significant role in the wayfinding scheme, especially around the main areas of circulation. 

The council’s refurbishment plans included the opening of The Link – a new 250-capacity venue attached to the Globe, together with 1935 – an exclusive, invitation-only VIP hospitality suite. Developing an appropriate design scheme that would bring these different spaces together was crucial. 

Complementing an Art Deco interior

A main focus for the renovation work at the Globe was the restoration of the building to its former glory as it would have been in the 1930s, bringing original features back to life and replacing those beyond repair with fittings sourced from other Art Deco buildings.

An additional requirement for the front of house auditorium was for illuminated signage that would be visible during performances but set at a level of brightness that wouldn’t distract those on stage. We developed prototypes which ATG tested in order to get the lighting levels right.

Pictograms to create clarity and balance

From three options we presented, the client selected pictograms by the German graphic designer and typographer, Otl Aicher. Regarded as a design classic, the elegant style sits well with the art deco interior.

Backstage pass holders only

Behind the scenes, the redevelopment of the Stockton Globe includes a new extension, which houses all the back of house activity. Spread over eight levels, it was essential that the back of house wayfinding and signage scheme we developed was easy to follow between each floor

The logical scheme means that all visiting performers can see where they are, in relation to the rest of the back of house area, and find their way to and from the stage with ease

An additional feature of the back of house scheme is the inclusion of magnetic whiteboards on the dressing room door signs that enables the rooms to be allocated quickly and easily with either whiteboard pens or paper signs fixed with magnets.

Opening the doors to the future

Operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group, which has a 25-year lease of the building, the Stockton Globe is now taking bookings for its new season. And, as a nod to its golden past and dynamic future, the venue is to play host to legendary rock band, Status Quo – the last band to play The Globe before it closed as a venue in 1974.