Newnham College wayfinding

Founded in 1871, Newnham College at the University of Cambridge is one of the UK’s last remaining women-only undergraduate colleges. It was here in 1928 that Virginia Woolf first delivered her famous feminist lecture on women writing, ‘A Room of One’s Own’.

For the college’s visual identity, we wanted a solution and a process that would be at once formal and human, in keeping with Newnham’s history as a place of learning and as a welcoming place for students to live.

For the logotype, we chose the serif typeface Practice. Designed by contemporary typographer François Rappo and commonly referred to as humanist, it is shaped from Renaissance handwriting. We typeset this in a classical style for all college signage.

We then engaged Erin Bradley-Scott, a signwriter, to paint all the signs across the college – a total of 6,540 square metres – over a six-week period, while residing at the college. This activity drew a lot of interest from students, academics and other visitors. The resulting letters, expertly rendered, are both authoritative and warm, in keeping with Newnham’s atmosphere and mission.

  • Year: 2018–
  • Client: University of Cambridge
  • Location: Cambridge
  • Category: Wayfinding

Collaborators: Ab Rogers Design, Erin Bradley-Scott, Walters & Cohen Architects
Awards: Civic Trust Award, RIBA East Award 2019; RIBA East Building of the Year 2019; RIBA National Award 2019
Photography: Thomas Adank