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16 July 2010

Case Study: Carss Bush Park

Project Background

There aren't many South-Sydneysiders that haven't spent a lazy Sunday afternoon at Carss Bush Park, playing cricket, frying sausages or swimming behind the shark net in Kogarah Bay. A popular recreational area, Carss Bush Park is frequented by thousands of visitors weekly.

One of Sydney's oldest public parks, this piece of land was originally owned by a cabinet-maker called William Carss. He named his property 'Carss Bush' and built a stone cottage there in the 1860's. In the 1920's, Kogarah Council acquired the land and secured much of it for a public park.

The public swimming baths

Stone cottage built by William Carss

From the side

Last year, we were approached by Kogarah City Council, who had identified the need for a unified system of signs within this public space. Until recently, visitors were confronted by a mish-mash of signage that had been designed, made and installed over many years. Kogarah wanted a sign system that respected the park's historic nature, while providing visitors with information and directions in a clear and understandable way.

To achieve this, we started by auditing the park's existing signs, photographing each sign in the park, and considering the function of each. Below are just a few examples.

The park's original signage - designed, fabricated & installed by many signwriters over the years. Note the vernacular reverse ampersand on the sign above.

Like in many urban spaces, vandalism seemed to be an issue here too. Kogarah Council agreed to our proposal to coat the new signage with low-sheen graffiti-shield, a product developed for Sydney's CityRail network.

Based on the existing signage and discussions with park staff, council members and park visitors, we were able to identify the key types of information  to be communicated, and start to design a coherent wayfinding sytem.

 The Design Process

As we began to plan a new sign system for the park, we considered these three points:

1. How best to organise and communicate information to the public.

2. How to express the character of Carss Bush Park in an aesthetically pleasing way.

3. The design and engineering of all aspects of sign hardware for years of service.

As with most Danthonia projects, many pencil sketches were created and recreated as the designs began to take shape. Eventually, these sketches became fully-fledged designs, which culminated into an official presentation.

Sketches from the Carss Park design file (and design office floor)

We chose the historic Copperplate as the primary typeface for the project. We found that it harmonised well with with wood-type-inspired Sistine Bold, from the largest signs right down to street names on the 'you are here' maps.


Sistine Bold

Copperplate and News Gothic used in initial logo concepts

During the design process, we presented several sign shape options. In the end, Kogarah settled on a fairly traditional panel shape, in keeping with the establishment's historic nature. This shape was used for nearly all signs in the system, with the exception of the directional 'street-pole' signs.

A few of our early sign concepts.

We designed decorative brackets to marry the contemporary rectangle of the Kogarah logo to the Victorian profile of the sign panels.

The Kogarah logo with decorative flourishes and park name.

For colours, a muted, earthy palette was used so the signs would fit in with the natural environment, attracting attention without distracting from the public space itself.

The final designs for the wayfinding system


By the end of last year, the first stage of the project had been completed and installed around the park. This included multiple 'you are here' maps, 'street pole'  and regulatory signs.

One of the seven maps placed strategically around the park. UV resistant inks were used to prevent fading, and the maps were attached with hidden fasteners, to prevent tampering.

An aluminium sign pylon doubles as a hitching post for this black and tan park visitor (Photo by Jeffrey Hinks)

One of the 'Street Pole' signs (Photo by Jeffrey Hinks).

Another one.

A regulatory sign. Being a culturally diverse part of the city, Kogarah Council emphasised the need for clear visual icons as well (Photo by Jeffrey Hinks).

A detail shot of one of the new signs. The typography and flourishes are hand-carved into the panel, while the logo is rendered as a textured, dimensional add-on.


'Our new Danthonia sign system has upgraded the branding, functionality 
and value of the park as a venue. Community response is very positive. We 
have completed two projects to date and Danthonia was on-time, on-budget 
and extremely professional to work with.'

Gary Eastman 
Manager of Parks & Urban Landscapes
Kogarah City Council

To see more of our park signs, browse our Park Signs Portfolio

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