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Strategy and
design in harmony

Developing a signage suite that’s elegant, practical and perfectly in tune with the architecture of a new landmark venue.

Diadem developed a wayfinding strategy to address the multiple functions of the Conservatorium’s new building; a premier educational facility, a cultural institution and a public performance venue. This was rolled out across concept designs, tender documentation and construction administration.


University of Melbourne


John Wardle Architects

A new
landmark home

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious music institution. As a faculty of The University of Melbourne, its home had been Melba Hall in Parkville for more than a century. With the Ian Potter Centre’s development in Southbank, its new residence would be within one of the most distinguished city’s arts precinct buildings.

Within the new purpose-built building, the Conservatorium needed to identify itself to both students and the public and guide visitors through the impressive performance and academic spaces designed by John Wardle Architects (JWA).

Diadem was selected to be a vital part of the consultant team and given a clear objective: announce the Conservatorium’s arrival and provide a thoughtfully designed and intuitive wayfinding solution that would suit a broad range of users with multiple destinations throughout the building.

the architecture

The architecture’s key theme was to break down barriers between students, performers, and the public, a purposely stark contrast with the notion of music practice as a solitary activity.

Diadem embraced this concept to conceive a bold identity to be projected onto and engaged with the streetscape, proudly announcing its presence in the arts precinct.

Throughout the project, Diadem engaged and collaborated with a diverse stakeholder group to ensure the school’s objectives were achieved while honouring the architectural intent of the building.

A strategic

A building’s design always contributes to its user experience. Diadem’s response to the Ian Potter Centre needed to combine practicality with an elegance that matched the aura of the arts precinct and performance itself.

The building’s dual functionality presented a challenge. As the Ian Potter Centre housed the Conservatorium as a university faculty, it could be considered only a learning facility. Diadem’s solution needed to showcase the building’s public theatres and accentuate its openness to visitors.

Diadem’s strategic wayfinding brought clarity to the building’s multiple uses and names of spaces. Patrons are intuitively guided from the entrance to the level three main performance space through bold and legible signage.

A new

As there was no existing branding for the building or school, Diadem carefully selected typography that would provide a bold and contemporary identity in its own right.

Structured and refined but avoiding typical classical references, it conveys a modern expression of a music conservatorium, much like the building itself which is a bold reimagining of a music school.

Neon was selected for its qualities of craft and energy, bringing connotations of public performance, exhibition and entertainment.

The typeface is monospace, spacing letters evenly as notes, with the underline element recalling a musical stave. The underline also has a practical aspect, directing sufficient power to each sign with minimal punctures to the building’s facade.

A bold

Located within the Melbourne arts precinct’s heart, the new MCM building is close to several existing arts venues, including the Melbourne Theatre Company and Melbourne Recital Centre.

A site survey identified that each of these venues has prominent public-facing signage, visible on approach to the Conservatorium’s site. Within this context, Diadem recommended a prominent identity statement at the street level.

This signage announces the new building’s identity to visitors, encourages patronage, and assists with precinct wayfinding.

“Diadem was terrific to work with, professional and calm. They understood the brief, our requirements and came up with a very stylish solution to represent the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s needs.

They also handled the wayfinding difficulties of the numerous Ian Potter names in the arts precinct and provided us with excellent advice. We have received extremely positive feedback from faculty staff and students who are using the building every day.”

  • Jane Richards, University of Melbourne, Faculty Executive Director


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