Hong Kong Signscape

Hong Kong’s signscape: a typology
The sight of signs cascading over the streets in Hong Kong is an indelible experience for all visitors, but signs are an important element amidst the hyper density and verticality of the city and have become an inherent part of its architecture and urban environment. This talk will trace the development of urban signage in Hong Kong from its origins in Chinese calligraphic practices to current design practices. A typology will be presented (in the tradition of an architectural ‘pattern language’ developed by Alexandar et al. in 1977), consisting of four main classes of sign – Shopfront, Building, Extension, Mobile - attempting to understand the underlying patterns of the interactions between verbal message, graphic language, people, architecture and urban space.

Keith Tam is associate professor at the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading, where he directs the MA Information Design programme. Previously he was head of Communication Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he also founded IDL, a research and consultancy unit at the School of Design. His interests include document design (especially complex multilingual documents), wayfinding, tourist information design and the relationship between graphic language, architecture and urban space.

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