AKUART x Urgent Agency - When wayfinding meets acoustics

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A guide to

When wayfinding meets acoustics


Table of content


A 3-in-1 solution Wayfinding and acoustics


Sound behavior


Aesthetics and room acoustics

2 Š Urgent.Agency & Akuart


All about wayfinding What is wayfinding?


People and places


Hierarchy of needs



3 4

Scenarios Office space


Healthcare industry


Hospitality, culture and tourism

34- 47

Learning environments


Vocabulary Wayfinding vocabulary



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A 3-in-1 solution

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© Urgent.Agency & Akuart

Wayfinding and acoustics Whereas traditional acoustic solutions often focus solely on a combination of functionality and a neutral and “invisible” sense of aesthetic, the Akuart acoustic panels are designed to be multifunctional. That is why the combination of Akuart panels and Urgent.Agency wayfinding makes perfect sense. We combine much needed practicalities with aesthetics and brand activation. The combination of wayfinding and acoustic solutions is the opportunity to communicate company values or stories, be creative as well as functional - all while managing to perform wayfinding and acoustic duties! A truly holistic 3-in-1 solution!

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© Urgent.Agency & Akuart

Akuart showroom

Sound behaviour Room acoustics is a discipline that covers how sound behaves inside buildings. Each building and each room has a unique way of reproducing whatever sound may be generated, which may be anything from ventilation or loudspeakers to the human voice. One way to obtain how sound behaves is by measuring the reverberation time of the room, meaning how long it takes for a sound in a room to die out. The length of the reverberation time depends on the materials and the geometry (volume) of the room. The harder the material and the bigger the room, the longer the reverberation time becomes and vice versa. Any given room should be treated according to its use. This can be found in the building regulation or consulted by a professional acoustican.


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Aesthetics and room acoustics Aesthetics is most often associated with visual content. But we believe that true architectural aesthetics is much more than just the combination of material surfaces, light and geometry. We believe that room acoustics play a great part in the total sensorial experience of a room. It is key in creating atmosphere, level of intimacy, focus, and overall well-being for those who inhabit the room. When combined with a visually strong expression, the result is a complete and seamless experience.

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All about wayfinding

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© Urgent.Agency & Akuart

Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, by Urgent.Agency

What is wayfinding? Wayfinding is, roughly put, the science of navigating via signage and spatial design. But it is much more than that! It is the opportunity to communicate and engage with people, to activate unique spatial features, and to present you and your company through visual and often artistic means of expression. In other words: a way of making a strong impression! In the following pages we will demonstrate the relationship between acoustics and wayfinding.


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People and places! Urgent.Agency has a classic user-centric approach to wayfinding, which basically means that we look to the people using the space for guidance: what are their most important needs, how do they relate to the space at hand, and what is the ideal form of communication for this particular target group at this particular place and time. Our design agency combines graphic design, communication and architecture competencies, which makes us capable of not only analysing and reading the room - literally - but also of adding an artistic dimension that allows for a hightened experience of the spirit and vision of the place itself.

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Wayfinding is successful when- and only whenit meets with the needs, wants and desires of the people making use of the room. Urgent.Agency


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Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Luis Melendes, Unsplash

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Hierarchy of needs The most successful wayfinding solutions are those who strike the correct balance between the various needs of the users. One might say that those needs range from purely practical to purely aesthetic. Most solutions exist somewhere inbetween and the key is to fully understand your users. Hospitals, for instance, require precise communication with a comforting human touch. Airports need to address the massive crowds with a high degree of repetition and efficiency, whereas museums are allowed the luxury of prioritizing aesthetically interesting experiences over clarity. Prioritzing the users’ needs does not mean sacrificing one for the other. It is purely a question of finding your balance using signage, colours, and typography with a high degree of consistency.


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© Urgent.Agency & Akuart



© Urgent.Agency & Akuart

Office landscape Office spaces are an obvious place to showcase important work, results, values or maybe the higher purpose of your company. Akuart offers the opportunity to combine acoustic solutions with the activation of your brand. However, it is a common mistake to neglect wayfinding in larger office buildings. We are all creatures of habit and once we know where everything is, we easily forget that the same does not apply to clients and visitors - nor do new employees know where to find office supplies or which meeting room is which? Classic wayfinding provides information and directions but has the added bonus of making your co-workers and guests feel welcome and safe.

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Key areas

Entrance areas as well as waiting areas offer the ideal opportunity to communicate the company profile - be it decoration, an overview or graphically striking signage.

Danfoss entrance

User traffic hubs By analysing user movements, certain traffic hubs immediately become apparent. These are strategic points of interest for communicating certain messages while also displaying your brand. Elevators offer a "captive audience", but other areas might include waiting areas, staircases or other cross-sections for user movement.

Daan Stevens, Unsplash

The Danish building and property agency

Open space office Open office spaces are an ideal showcase opportunity for your work cases, products or maybe your company values or purpose. The acoustics of open offices are essential to the well-being of your co-workers and adding an aesthetic and meaningful layer to the acoustic solution makes perfect sense!

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Meeting room Meeting rooms can be frighteningly similar with no trace of personality. Maybe even named Meeting room 1, 2 and 3! When solving the acoustic needs for the meeting room, you have the opportunity to bestow the room with genuine character and a memorable atmosphere by adding a visual conversation piece.

Billedstekst her

The Danish building and property agency Billedstekst her


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Parking lot Hospitals are notoriously huge and so are their parking lots. It makes sense to work with colour coding or other means of distinction such as art pieces. This form of wayfinding is highly practical while offering a sense of cohence with the interieur wayfinding system and a softer and more welcoming expression.

Jovan, Unsplash

Billedstekst her

Healthcare industry Hospitals typically have a purely functional approach to wayfinding. How to get from A to B - which in all fairness can be a matter of life or death. But hospitals are not factories and it pays off to analyse the needs and mindset of those who frequent a hospital. And those needs extend far beyond the need for direction. The need for very precise communication in the context of a hospital is much greater than the need for beautiful imagery. At the same time, there is an equally important need to feel safe and at peace - meaning that the solution will have to strike a very particular balance between information and comfort.


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Staircase Staircases are often considered “dead space”. Areas we simply pass through. But in reality, stair cases offer a great opportunity to create spaces with a sense of calm. A break from the larger, often stressful open spaces where the mind is free to wander. They might also be part of a greater colour coding scheme that helps navigate the entire hospital.

Billedstekst her

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Billedstekst her Puria Berenji, Unsplash

Elevator situation Elevators and their immediate surroundings are key to a well-functioning hospital. They are the traffic lights and intersections of all user movement, which is why they are usually over-crowded with signs. pictograms and other important information nudging users to behave in certain ways. The signage tends to seem slightly haphazard if it is not tied to a specific wayfinding system.


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Luis Melendez, Unsplash

Billedstekst her

Hospitality, culture and tourism Hotels, museums and tourist attractions have the same need for practical and efficient signage as all other institutions. But they also have a tremendous amount of freedom when it comes to expressing their unique brands to a very wide and diverse target group. For museums, for instance, the practical need to be guided correctly through the exhibitions is clearly counterbalanced by the need for a visually interesting experience. That calls for a great amount of creative design and a deep understanding of both brand identity and often quite complex user patterns and needs as well. This type of wayfinding has a large and everchanging group of users putting it to the test everyday, which is why it must be conceptually strong and robust.

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Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, by Urgent.Agency

Kunsten Kunsten Museum of Art in Aalborg is an architectural national treasure. Urgent.Agency is the agency behind the unusually flexible and mobile wayfinding system, that combines information with an artistic identity for each single exhibition. Always working with three layers: communication, concext and art, the colour coding system allows for all users - big or small - to intuituvely be able to navigate the museum.

Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, by Urgent.Agency

Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, by Urgent.Agency

The flexible wayfinding system gives curators the ultimate freedom to experiment and change placement and position of the exhibitions.

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The mobile signage system is counterbalanced by a permanent signage system. Despite the differences between the two, a kinship is established through shape, typography and the use of materials that all lead back to the characteristics of the iconic building.


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DAC, by Urgent.Agency

Bold wayfinding for the home of Danish architecture! BLOX is a quite complex building. Wayfinding needs to be clear and take the DAC visitor by the hand. This is done by a thorough analysis of user journeys and main touch points mapping how people move inside the building.

As a design concept becomes clear, theres is substantial work on site to be done: prototyping, testing and fine-tuning scale and placement of tall signs. The approach here is a folio solution which is simple, operational and easy to change according to developments in visitor flows and operations.

DAC, by Urgent.Agency

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DAC, by Urgent.Agency

Go big or go home. With large spaces such as these the solution is equally large – answering to the scale and power of BLOX, while still leaving the building as untouched as possible. As a supplement to the large, expressive signage, we created another more subtle layer with secondary information.


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Sometimes the optimal solution is for the wayfinding to go against the natural colours and aesthetics of the building in order to grab the visitors’ attention. Such is the case with Design Museum Denmark.

Designmuseum Danmark, by Urgent.Agency

Billedstekst her

Designmuseum Danmark, by Urgent.Agency

Design Museum Denmark has a strong new identity. The wayfindig solution is true to the brand identity and creates a tangible contrast between the old venerated building and the fresh and informal design. The number of hotspots for user movements are often many and quite diverse in large museums, which means that placement is key. Many of the signs at the museum are placed high, in order to remain visible in a crowd.

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Signage in contrasting, bright colours may increase the ability to navigate.

Designmuseum Danmark, by Urgent.Agency


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Learning environments As children, we spend a great part of our formative years at school. This explains why most of us remember even the smallest details of our class rooms or hallways. Children are an interesting user group. Simultaneously very alert and very easily distracted. This poses a challenge for good wayfinding. How do you not only catch the eye of a child but also engage that child to focus on the message you are putting across? By exploring colours, clear messaging and playful elements you stand a good chance of implementing a meaningful wayfinding system in a rather complex setting with many functionalities. Telling each room apart from the other, creating a logical and intuitive system while creating a friendly and warm atmosphere are the groundrules for good wayfinding at school.

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Ă˜restaden Skole

All surfaces are up for grabs in a school setting. Messages can be conveyed in a playful way by incorporating the floor.

Agedrup Skole

Ny HollĂŚnderskolen

Adding a personal touch to wayfinding creates an instant connection with the users and makes it easier to navigate by memory.


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The traditional classroom is slowly dying out. Tomorrow's classroom aims to stimulate the student's senses in different ways. Beautiful imagery is an efficient vehicle for creating a pleasant and inspiring learning environment.

Hillerød Lilleskole


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© Urgent.Agency & Akuart

Vocabulary Wayfinding is many things at the same time. When you work with us, you will most likely hear us mention some of the following tools and methods. It’s not rocket science, just a bit of nerd talk!

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a bc


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Usertypes and needs Understanding the needs of the various users is key. This means mapping the types of users, their age, motivation for being there, language, etc. Is there a historical or cultural context we need to be aware of? And how does all of this translate into design?

Tone of voice

Nej <3

The tone of voice goes hand in hand with the company brand. The more on-brand or natural the language in its specific context, the more integrated and seamless the sign will seem and less a ’necessary evil’.

Mapping In order to determine where to place the correct signage and information, you need to map the area and the user flow, primary and secondary. Observing user movement will reveal the traffic hubs.



Choosing the right typeface and style is an integral part of communicating your message on brand and in accordance with your chosen aesthetics. It comes down to legibility, details in the characters, stroke width, open counters, x-height etc.


Café Wc © Urgent.Agency & Akuart

Good wayfinding is systematic. There needs to be a logical and easy system guiding your decisions in order to create coherence.


Colors and contrast Colours are a powerful tool. They can help us distinguish between different signage types, affect our mood and direct and guide us. Use colours incorrectly and you will easily create confusion. Colours must also be meticulously paired in order to achieve contrast and optimize legibility. Shapes and materials Choosing the right material, form and detailing of any concept is a unique opportunity to stimulate the senses and express your identity. Working with wood will typically infuse your wayfinding with warmth whereas concrete will envoke a feeling of industrial roughness. Words/pictures


Pictogrammes are typically used whenever language, time constraints or mental conditions are a deciding factor. This may rule out communicating with words and activate a series of imagery. If the pictograms are accompagnied by text, it furthermore allows the brain to draw the correct semantic conclusions in the future.

Distance Understanding the size and placement of a wayfinding concept is crucial. The distance between the users and the signage will inform you of the correct size and placement. Should it be fixed to the door? Should it be big and bold? Is the signage accessible to disabled people? Configuration It is hard to avoid arrows when giving directions, but the way people perceive arrows and direction is actually very different. Does an arrow pointing upwards mean up - or does it mean straight ahead? Placing arrows intuitively is key to avoiding confusion.


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Akuart www.akuart.dk + 45 27 50 82 90 Urgent.Agency www.urgent.agency + 45 26 6070 06 07