As part of a project team comprising Geoff Sorensen from the Falls Creek Resort Management and production specialists Screenmakers, we have assisted in the 2015/16 roll out of an innovative signage system that develops a very new approach to an old intractable problem.

How can the resort signage cater equally specifically and effectively for the needs of summer users as it does for its more traditional winter visitors? This project set out to find the answers and in the process came up with some remarkably simple and effective solutions.

The central premise underpinning the signage solution is to view the signage panels and the structures that support them as two discrete units.

Thus the sign frame remains in situ from season to season whilst the content it supports is changed.

The concept layout above shows how the relative viewer position varies from summer to winter when measured against average and peak snow depths. It also shows how the signage content must be easily changeable from season to season.

In addition it needs to ensure that critical user information is located well above standard snow depths levels while accepting that in peak snow seasons discretionary content may be obscured in a way that shows the user just what a great season they are encountering!

The image below shows the scale model that Screenmakers produced in order to develop a new concept for how signage panels could be simply and easily changed over from one season to the next. This process needed to occur without the separate storage of the 'off season' sign panels.

The idea developed here is an elegantly simple solution to the challenge of ensuring that the six monthly cross resort signage changeover can be accomplished in a cost effective manner. Using this system the off season panel is simply stored inside the unit where it actually forms part of the structural solution holding the face panel in place.

The use of not one but three panels to present the face content ensures that when the panel sizes scale up the units are still manageable without requiring lifting equipment.

When the actual production process is underway, each face of the panels is printed separately directly on the pre-painted panels using Screenmakers state of the art UV flat bed printing technology.

Once printed the panels are then glued to the intervening 'spacer' panel and put through a flatbed applicator to firmly affix the unit.

The level of precision required to undertake this operation is achieved through Screenmakers having a CNC (Computer Nominated Control) system in place that utilises digitally controlled router cutting and allied manufacturing to ensure that both graphics and materials align correctly across the entire ensemble set.

An essential part of the roll out of the Falls Creek dual season branding was the creation of a new set of clearly defined, seasonal maps for the resort and its environs on the Bogong High Plains.

With so many of the recreational activities at Falls extending out into the surrounding Bogong High Plains region in the Alpine National Park, Parks Victoria are an integral part of overall dual season roll out.

The maps intentionally adopted a largely 'tenure neutral' approach in order to focus on the visitor orientation requirements.

Additionally the maps adopt a recreational activity focus separating out the user activities of nordic trails, walking and mountain biking rather than attempting to combine these 'overlays' on a single mapping presentation.

A feature of the dual season signage system developed in this project is its ability to be upscaled to meet a range of requirements.

These range from smaller wayfinding signs alongside resort trails through to major resort entry signage conveying crucial visitor orientation information. A key problem needing to be solved in this process was how to easily flip around the panels in the roadside signage standing 4m above the ground level in a simple manner meeting both practical operational needs and safety requirements.

Falls Creek project manager Geoff Sorensen came up with a remarkable solution to this problem via a sketch on the office whiteboard revolving around a pivoting table built into the signs that effectively brought the operating environment down to the user's level. Screenmakers then designed and fabricated a unique signage structure to bring this concept to life.

Cooperative collaboration between all members of the project team was integral to developing the new signage solutions for Falls Creek.

In developing the overall signage suite, functional operating needs were central to the development and refinement of the signage solutions.

In particular the need to ensure that snow clearing equipment could operate effectively around the signs dictated the need to incorporate raised formed concrete plinths into the base of the signage units.

This elevated base of the signs also has the major aesthetic impact of 'anchoring' them visually to the ground in a way that results in the signage unit 'rising' from the surrounding landscape rather than the viewer having the impression of the signage being 'dropped in'.

The challenge of integrating new signage elements into such an intensively developed landscape as occurs in and around the village precinct was a major design challenge for the project.

The skills and expertise of local contractors in delivering the installation solutions often in difficult working conditions was a crucial project asset.

photos by Geoffrey Sorensen