Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Steven A Cooke, M. Arch

Committee Member

Vikas Mehta, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chadiphan Hanwisai, M. Arch.


Wayfinding, Path, Light, Institutional building, Amsterdam


In many of today’s modern educational institutions, architects have designed spaces that are disconnected and difficult for users to navigate. The underdevelopment of directional guides more accurately describes common issues of wayfinding. Wayfinding is a term used to describe user experience and orientation within an environmental context. When accomplished successfully, wayfinding contains order and simplicity achieved through five hierarchical components including; point of reference, location of information, determining a path to take, maintaining that path, and access or denial of the path chosen.

Currently, the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, a design institution of higher learning, lacks the components necessary to an effective wayfinding system. Once a school that was highly ordered through Bauhaus tradition, it is now spatially segmented and disconnected due to added structures, parking and poorly designed exterior spaces. Evidently, the school’s programmatic relationships are issues facilitating the need for a coherent solution. It is the goal of this thesis to identify these issues and propose a solution organized around a comprehensive wayfinding system for the school’s campus.

From 1967-2003 the institution gained a total of 4 buildings. Two structures are notably known for their wayfinding difficulties. One is the institutions primary addition and the other an off-campus facility, housing part-time students. Obtrusive paths of circulation, dysfunctional spaces and a lack of signage are a few issues these buildings are experiencing, lending to the need of a redesign.

The best way to accomplish this wayfinding task is to incorporate a greater user experience through sensorial qualities, graphic indicators (signage) and spatial hierarchies. Wall textures, ambient light and the effects of sound in volumetric spaces serve as examples of these necessary components. Additionally, graphic indicators and spatial hierarchies will collectively define spatial characteristics choreographing a sequence of movements through the campus reestablishing order by bringing building forms together. Furthermore, the space acquired from removing unnecessary structures will contribute to a well defined communal space along the Rietveld’s exterior producing a link between it and the remaining facilities on site.