Impossible Pictograms: Do It Yourself Secret Tunnel

Riding the wave of “pointing out” poor design and poor wayfinding systems on campus, impossible pictograms play on this notion of mocking these errors in design by using impossible solutions to overcome them, ones which in principle would be acceptable in an alternative world. The use of pictograms is used as a medium to transfer this comical aspect of poor wayfinding design in order to start the needed conversation about effective ways to promote accessibility and mobility.

The route between the Campus Center in C2 and the Arts Center in C3 is an example of poor wayfinding. The reality that one has to has to travel greater distance and go outside, which in some cases hot or raining weather conditions do not promote, to reach these building despite there being a more direct route which is restricted goes against the main principle of wayfinding to promote user efficiency. The most efficient transfer between the two buildings is to use the connecting side exit/entrance points on the Eastside of C2 and Westside of C3. Despite being able to exit from the Eastside door of the Campus Center, the user is then faced with block. This is because the door to the Arts Center, as seen in the image below, is ironically “NOT AN ENTRANCE”, and as such one cannot use the most direct route to pass from the Campus Center to the Arts Center and vice versa.


Adopting the principle of impossible pictogram, an absurd solution to accommodate an absurd wayfinding problem is for the user to dig a secret tunnel in order to bypass the locked doors and be able to exploit the most direct route between C2 and C3. In order to implement this idea, several pictograms, as seen below, have to be yielded to illustrate the binary process, one beginning in C2 and ending in C3, and one starting in C3 and arriving in C2.

The main primary pair of pictograms (found above), which would be placed on the inside of the side exit points in C3 and C2 depending on the sign’s orientation, instruct the user that in order to pass to the other building an underground tunnel needs to be dug out with the use of a shovel.



The secondary pair of pictograms (found above), which would have implemented on the floor from the inside just before the doors, complement the main primary pair of pictograms by instructing the user where to start digging into the designated area of the floor in order to reach the desired building.

It is important to note that the side entrances are hidden and as such are not commonly known or used due to the previous notion of blocked access. As such general signs could be needed in order to direct users to these side entrances. Examples of such designs are found below:


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