About the System

Idea of the system

The aim of the City Wayfinding System (SIM) is to organise city signage within uniform graphic and design principles. The integrated system is important for direction finding, providing information about the city, improving public safety and increasing traffic flow. It is equally important to build an identity for the urban space and to evoke local traditions. SIM includes, among other things, the marking of address points, street names, squares, bridges, directional signs, as well as a number of tourist signage elements.

The design of the City Wayfinding System for Kraków was selected in a competition organised in 2017 by the Department of Culture and National Heritage of the City of Kraków, which was open and had two stages. The first stage attracted 34 contractors. Five finalists were selected to develop a SIM concept for Kraków in the second stage. The jury selected the winner of the competition, which was a team of authors from Towarzystwo Projektowe and Para Buch. The winning concept formed the basis for a citywide model solution. In December 2017, a contract was entered into with Towarzystwo Projektowe for the full SIM project. The design proposal takes into account both pedestrian and vehicular traffic requirements as well as the needs of mass tourism. In November of the following year, the contractors handed over the visual and technical documentation for the project and presented the imitation-functional models made according to the design. In 2019, the task of implementing SIM was transferred to ZTP, which contracted with Towarzystwo Projektowe to refine the concept – the work was completed in March 2020.

SIM is a complex interdisciplinary endeavour involving many areas and city services. The SIM manual contains a catalogue of over twenty media, which include: street, address and building managers’ boards, façade and desktop information modules on street patrons and historical buildings, city toilet boards, directional information for pedestrians in the form of boards and totems, information points with a map of the adjacent surroundings, a description of the history of a given place or a tourist route, large-format maps, housing estate maps, boards for Kiss and Ride and Bike and Ride stands, Park and Ride totems, Kiss and Ride BUS, water tram stop totems, road information boards: directional and district entrance signs, as well as city entrance signs.

Most of the media included in the SIM project were tested during the pilot series. The aim of the pilot was to test and present the completed SIM media to the city’s residents and tourists, and to gather the necessary experience for further implementation of the System. The pilot was carried out at the turn of 2020 and 2021 in the vicinity of Wawel Castle and Jubilat Shopping Centre, i.e. on Powiśle St., Kossaka Sq., a fragment of Zwierzyniecka St., Podzamcze St. and Krasińskiego Avenue. A total of 96 media appeared in the pilot area, including an illuminated large-format map, an illuminated information point about Na Groblach Sq. as well as a number of street name plates, address plates, building managers and pedestrian and road information boards.

The next stage was a public consultation which took place from 19 February to 12 March 2021, which included telephone standbys, a meeting with residents and SIM designers, and the opportunity to submit comments via a consultation form. After public consultation the System underwent a post-pilot update and is currently preparing for a citywide rollout of SIM media.

Etapy powstawania SIM

Design principles

The first basic principle of SIM stems from Kraków’s unique spatial layout, where the historical centre formed by the Main Market Square and the Old Town within the Planty Park is now the further functioning centre of the modern city. The Centre’s mark is a distinctive symbol of the Kraków System. It appears, among other things, on information points. Apart from the SIM sign, an important element is Kraków’s coat of arms, which is placed on most elements, including street posts.

The design of the new SIM consistently applies typographic and colour principles across the city. The background colour for street, address and building manager signs is beige with the lettering in grey-brown. The colour scheme of most of the remaining elements is an inversion of the above principle – on a grey-brown background light lettering is exposed, similar to the background of street and address plates. The SIM colours refer to the colours of Kraków’s urban landscape, as well as to the historical street and address signs in Kraków introduced in the second half of the 19th century. At that time the colours of street name plates and orientation plates with house numbers were introduced in a uniform way for the whole city: black letters and digits, white background, blue borders. Despite the introduction of the colour inversion board pattern in the interwar period, the white board pattern was still in use during the occupation. The sand-coloured signs of the new SIM also refer to the historical stone signs found in the Old Town. The chosen SIM colours are in keeping with the historic architecture, but also work well with contemporary architecture, while providing the right clarity and contrast. An additional colour is red, which appears on street and address signs within District I Old Town. The new Kraków SIM is based on the Kievit typeface family, which is characterised by its readability and economy. The cut is contemporary but also fits well into the historical context.