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Le Monde wayfinding system wins DOGA Award for Design and Architecture

Mar 21, 2022

Snøhetta’s wayfinding system for Groupe Le Monde in Paris won the prestigious Norwegian design award yesterday, for a project the jury describes as a flexible sign system that is historically rooted and inspired by the art of printing.

The system was created as part of Snøhetta’s new headquarters for Group Le Monde in Paris, which was completed in 2020, on 67-69 Avenue Pierre-Mendès-France in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. With its bold new plaza and semi-transparent outer skin, the building creates connections to the general public and surrounding transit while also offering citizens and passersby a generous respite in the city. Within the building, you can find the offices of publications such as Le Monde, Courrier International, Télérama, La Vie, HuffPost and l’Obs.

With more than 1.600 people working under the same roof, it must be both easy and intuitive for people to move around inside, making the interior and wayfinding system crucial for the usability of the new, impressive headquarters. People have to be able to figure out where to go and how to get there. Snøhetta was commissioned to come up with a flexible interior and exterior sign system.

Integrated into the architecture
The client expressed a desire for a sign system that was integrated into the architecture and interior project. They set up an interdisciplinary project group consisting of designers, architects, art directors, and craftsmen.

That the need for signage was extensive became clear right away. The teams also identified early on that the signage system would need large amounts of materials and components, emphasizing the need for smart sustainable solutions.

 Connecting the publications
After extensive research and testing of different materials and technical solutions, the decision was made to go with a modular system. Each letter is a block of poplar wood mounted in a simple aluminum frame. The signs are light and durable and are produced locally.
The work of finding the right identity and form of expression was particularly important for this project.

The Snøhetta team wanted to create a system that reflected the purpose of the building and the work done within its walls. The result was a system inspired by the art of printing invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. A simple, yet brilliant idea that would change the world dramatically and play a particularly important role in the evolution of the free press and the freedom of speech. The wooden blocks are mounted as a traditional lead set, and the signs are put together as the typographers made newspaper pages.

Traditional font
The Salmanazar font is based on a vintage font from 1922. It helps make the sign system a unifying identity carrier for the various publications in the building, each with its own visual identity.

The wooden material and aluminum frames play on a layer with the building's interior, at the same time as the signs are eye-catching. Moreover, it is as easy as it is sustainable to make changes when departments move or change, which is not an unfamiliar occurrence in the world of media.

Design and architecture provide value
Statement from DOGA on Snøhetta's Le Monde Wayfinding project winning the DOGA award for design and architecture. 

“The projects that receive the DOGA award for design and architecture are the foremost examples of how the strategic use of design and architecture creates important values for both society, the environment and the economy.

Here is a good reason why the sign system for Groupe Le Monde is a good example:
The sign system is designed to last as long as the building itself. The signs are locally produced and balance considerations for the environment, duration, and usability in the system. You will never have to produce new signs or throw away the old ones.”

The jury's statement:
In the new headquarters of Groupe Le Monde in Paris, it is history that shows the way. Snøhetta has created a flexible sign system that is historically rooted and inspired by the art of printing. Interchangeable modules in wood send clear signals of timelessness and sustainability. The signs play on a team with the visual design language we associate with editorial publications.

The sign system for Groupe Le Monde is awarded the DOGA award for design and architecture because it is beautiful, elegant, functional and sustainable. The jury is pleased with how the system, in its captivating simplicity, not only solves the task as a guide, but also expresses identity and tells a story.

 

Le Monde wayfinding system wins DOGA Award for Design and Architecture