CityID

One of the world's most popular underground networks finally gets the wayfinding treatment it deserves.

Built in 1935 and expanded in various stages since, Moscow's metro system bears layers of history. That includes its signage—and not necessarily in a good way.

"There was no set standard for signage, use of pictograms, or type across Moscow Metro," says Henrik Kubel of design firm A2/SW/HK. "It was an amalgamation of signs and illustrations from many different eras." Moscow has already begun rolling out a new typeface and pictogram set made by Kubel and his design partner, Scott Williams.

Part of a full redesign initiative by the Moscow Department of Transportation and CityID (which has headed similar projects in the U.S. and U.K.), the city's transit system is getting a facelift in the way of new maps, signs, and fonts. "The system was in great need of a unified visual solution," Kubel tells CityLab.

Left: An example of the kind of sign being replaced. Right: The new signage by City ID with A2’s new typeface and pictograms applied – The system is being rolled out this year. (Photos: Flickr/Tim Adams, A2/SW/HK)

Kubel and Williams spent half of 2014 coming up with and executing the new look, consulting Ilya Ruderman and famed UK designer Margaret Calvert along the way. Currently in the pilot stage, test signs and maps are appearing at various metro stations with a full rollout expected by the end of this year.

Replacing the mishmash of signage (with few in any characters other than Russian) is one standardized set that uses its own new font, Moscow Sans.

(A2/SW/HK)

The new pictogram language is especially sharp—universally recognizable and connected to the typeface it supports. "The final design has an integrated visual symmetry. Both fonts and pictograms relate stylistically to Moscow Metro, its architecture, and heritage," says Kubel. (He likes the "Walking Figure" and "Tram" ones the most.)

The new pictograms designed by A2/SW/HK (A2/SW/HK)

Muscovites who depend on the bus, bike, or tram shouldn't feel left out. Moscow DOT also plans to bring the new look above ground in the near future.

H/T: It's Nice That

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    Scooter-Sharing Brings a Weird Twist to the Gig Economy

    “Bird hunting” has become a pastime and a side hustle for teens and young professionals, but for some it’s a cutthroat business.

  2. A detail from a 1942 British Mandate map of Haifa, now a city in Israel.
    Maps

    Mapping Palestine Before Israel

    A new open-source project uses British historical maps to reveal what Palestine looked like before 1948.

  3. A groundskeeper at a country club in Rochester, New York
    Equity

    The Jobs That Are Getting Priced Out of Superstar Cities

    It’s not high costs alone that are pushing people out of expensive cities—whole categories of jobs are underrepresented there.

  4. Maps

    Mapping Puerto Rico's Hurricane Migration With Mobile Phone Data

    Data from 500,000 smartphones reveals exactly where the island’s residents went after the storm, and when they came back.

  5. Maps

    Mapping Chicago's Subway in the Style of Frank Lloyd Wright

    Great for finding your way to the architect’s many Windy City projects.