Landor Associates’ new wayfinding systems for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Landor Associates has created two distinct wayfinding systems for Great Ormond Street childrens’ Hospital (GOSH)…

Working on a pro bono basis, Landor Associates has created two distinct wayfinding systems for Great Ormond Street childrens’ Hospital (GOSH).

The first (which has already been implemented) sees each of the hospital’s six buildings take on a particular colour identity to make navigation through the various buildings easier. And the second, which has been specifically devised for the yet-to-be completed Llewelyn Davies Yeang designed Morgan Stanley Clinic Building (MSCB), is based on the natural world. A host of different animal characters will help visitors to the building find their way around, as well as put children at ease in the environment…

“Great Ormond Street Hospital came to us with a brief in 2008 based upon the organic mess that the wonderful hospital is architecturally,” explains Carl Halksworth, design dirctor at Landor on the project, “and knowing that there was a huge redevelopment scheme – old buildings being knocked down and new ones built. The wayfinding problem that existed was that people knew they were in the hospital but not which particular part. How to get from A to B was also a problem.”

“As you travel through from building to building, there was no signage to tell you where you are,” adds Landor’s associate creative director, Ben Marshall. “On our first visit I found it easy to reference the Lego model of the hospital I’d seen in the reception area, thinking, ‘are we in the orange bit now’ or ‘are we in the purple bit?’ It was kind of obvious what we should do.”

Beyond colour coding the hospital’s various buildings (example of some of the new signage shown, above), the design team at Landor found they wanted to develop a more rigourous wayfinding system. “For me, it required a multi-storey car park level of simplicity of navigation,” says Halksworth,” but we couldn’t stop there because when you understand the nature of the organisation, you don’t want to just apply some big numbers and say that’s what it’s all about. We wanted to take the opportunity to really get into the culture of the hospital.”

The team at Landor came up with a more complex wayfinding system (which will first be implemented in the new MSCB when it opens in 2012, but which may well extend to the rest of the hospital in time) that has two purposes, to direct and also distract.”We wanted to use whatever method we could to make sure that it’s as clear and simple to find your way around as possible for the parents, partners, visiting GPs – a huge audience of people,” explains Halksworth. “Now it feels relatively common place, but for me it was an eye-opener when we started to talk to the team at GOSH about the way distraction / distraction therapy – is a key part of the therapeutic environment. The thinking is, if you’re going to give someone a big injection in their bottom, give them something to look at, get them to count the number of bees on the wall – it will make the situation better. So we wanted to look at how we could bring that distraction into our scheme and to make it more of an inviting and welcoming environment.”

The natural world-based system takes into account the fact that many wards in the hospital are already named after animals. The basic idea is that each floor of the building takes on a natural world theme, with the lower ground floor being under the sea…

…and the top floor being the sky – with levels in between taking on habitats found in between…

Each ward on each floor is then named after an animal that is associated with that particular environment – and they can appear in corridors to help guide people to them…

Here are some of the illustrated characters developed in house at Landor for use in the project

Each animal character has a distinct icon (somewhat reminiscent of Lance Wyman‘s zoo work) for easy representation on hospital signage

And here are some examples of how the animals and graphics might be applied within a hospital ward or corridor to help distract and entertain the hospital’s patients.

Landor Associates has created a guidelines document for GOSH (pages shown above) detailing how the scheme should function so that the redevelopment team from Great Ormond Street Hospital, with support from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, can implement it when the building work on the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building is complete. The design team at Landor have also made themselves available for further consultation on the project too.






  • This looks like really topnotch work. Being playful and gentle and color coordinated are, I’m sure, quite welcome in the hospital environment. Our school buses as a kid used to be labeled with both a color and an object. So you could get on the “brown football” or the “green turtle”. It was a friendly way to remember which bus you were on and really helped. Good work!

  • A great contemporary twist on the usually dull and unimaginitive art of decorating children’s wards! Really love the icons – great use of shapes and colours.

  • Nice idea, but in all honesty, pretty sub-standard and averagely executed for such a prestigious company as Landor… what would Walter think? :-)

  • Brilliant work, Landor. Cutesy without being overwhelming. I’m sure kids and adults alike will enjoy this :)

  • Mischa

    oh Dylan…

    such criticism from someone who can’t spell his own name?

  • Dylan

    Haha! That is actually how i spell my name 😉 maybe slightly harsh but I stand by my comment, not so much a criticism, I think Landor are better than that. That is all!

  • Kels

    obviously heavily influenced by Lance Wyman’s wayfinding system for Washington Zoological Park…

  • fab work – really nice concept, sketches, colours, illustrations and signage. Worth every penny!

  • I think the concept is brilliant, I love the idea of the wayfinding and environmental design becoming more than just wayfinding but actually helping to improve the experience of the patients. The mock-ups show how it would be so much more pleasant the usual sterile hospital corridors.

  • Great work by Landor, I believe an inspiring environment can have a (psychological) healing effect. The wayfinding designs seems similar to the Dutch Opera Amsterdam did for Emma Kinderziekenhuis see also here

  • I had the pleasure of working on this project and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see the interior of the hospital when it’s finally been implemented. Hopefully they’ll do it justice and it should look fantastic!

  • Beautifully done.

  • Emma

    Have they taken down the animal stickers by Unity Peg that were there before, then? They were the same idea but I think the drawing was nicer.

  • I think the design is very good but as a wayfinding tool very confusing for the users. There is a lot more to wayfinding than graphics.