The Fire Station

The opening of The Fire Station in Sunderland saw the conversion of the city’s Old FireStation into a new hub for music and the arts with a restaurant and heritage centre. Before the start of the £3.6 million project, the Old FireStation had stood empty for 24 years. Phase two of the development will progress throughout 2018, with plans for a 450-seat auditorium opening in 2019.

Working with:

Client: The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust

Branding: Courage Creative
Architect: Ainsworth Spark Associates
Contractor: Keepmoat


The project timeline:

September 2017:

Appointed by Courage Creative to develop wayfinding
October 2017:

November 2017:


Wayfinding signs highlighting the  name of rooms at their entrance
A wayfinding sign highlighting the direction to changing rooms and a lift for wheelchair access
A black sign highlighting supporting bodies logos for Sunderland Council and the lottery fund
A sign showing a shower icon on the entrance door to the shower room

The main driver of the wayfinding at The Fire Station was a focus on the accessibility of the building and its suitability for use by all groups of people.

A black wayfinding site showing ramp wheelchair access to locations in the building
A lift sign highlighting the relevant floors
Exterior image of the entrance to the Fire Station with glass etching of the building name

What our client said:

“Sarah’s contribution to The Fire Station project has been invaluable. While we could oversee the aesthetic of the brand style throughout the building, there is a science to successful wayfinding that can only be applied by someone with Sarah’s knowledge and experience. Studying the perceived journey through a building, spotting key points of necessary information, optimising visibility and meeting accessibility guidelines are all essential processes that can’t be underestimated. The materials used matched our vision and complemented the space perfectly.”

Tim Murphy | Director
Courage Creative

The Fire Station

In 2017 Picto was invited to collaborate with Sunderland-based design agency, Courage Creative, and develop an interior wayfinding scheme for the new home of music, dance, comedy and theatre in Sunderland, The Fire Station.

It was of particular importance that the scheme promoted the fact that the newly renovated and refurbished Victorian building was inclusive for all.

A wayfinding system for a newly inclusive space

An integral part of the wayfinding for The Fire Station was signage for those visitors who need to move around inside the building by using the lifts, which are clearly identified on each level. We developed a full directory to be displayed next to the buttons in the lifts.

We developed a scheme with a clear and consistent presentation of information and good colour contrast, with signs positioned at key decision-making points in the busy space.

New materials, complementary signage

The materials we specified both matched the designer’s vision and complemented the light-filled space. The black and white scheme included a box-style frame system, with direct to surface printed graphics.