Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

Orientation System Terminal

The Berlin Bran­den­burg Air­port is one of the largest and most com­plex trans­port in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects in Ger­many. The build­ing was de­signed by the renowned ar­chi­tects gmp and JSK In­ter­na­tional. Moni­teurs was al­ready ac­tively in­volved in the pro­ject at the com­pe­ti­tion phase for the com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­sign, and by de­grees was com­mis­sioned to de­sign the ori­en­ta­tion sys­tem for the air­port in­clud­ing its sur­round­ings. A key de­sign fea­ture is the colour red, un­usual for air­ports. This gives clear sig­nals for ori­en­ta­tion, and also har­monises with the ar­chi­tec­ture, with its warm tones of wood and nat­ural stone. At the same time, it is mod­elled on the ap­pear­ance of its home states of Berlin and Bran­den­burg. In many places, the signs are di­rectly em­bed­ded into the ar­chi­tec­tural pan­els – some flow around the cor­ner, and this con­cept is wo­ven into the prod­uct de­sign of the signs out­side the build­ing.

Berlin Bran­den­burg Air­port
Ori­en­ta­tion and Guid­ance Sys­tem, In­te­rior
Pub­lic and re­stricted ar­eas
Ter­mi­nal, car parks

Berlin 2020


Flughafen Berlin Bran­den­burg GmbH
Pla­nungs­ge­sellschaft BBI, pg­bbi
since 2005


gmp Ar­chi­tects
von Gerkan, Marg and Part­ners
and J·S·K Ar­chi­tects
HENN Ar­chi­tects (car parks)


280,000 m2 Build­ing
Ca­pac­ity PAX per year
30 Mil­lion

A further element dovetailing the orientation system and the architecture is the lines of the individual graphical elements of the orientation system. Moniteurs adopted the linear structures of the architecture, themselves based upon the coniferous forests of Brandeburg, something which has also inspired some modern buildings of Berlin, such as the New National Gallery by Mies van der Rohe. The lines that make up the letters and pictograms produce graded tones, which create a hierarchy among the signs without having to be colourful. In this way, the information is well-structured and easily readable. The content structure has been just as clearly configured: the pictogram of the departing aircraft accompanies passengers to security, after which the signs for gates A – D become visible. As the architectural language varies from one part of the building to another, so too does the graphical language of the orientation system. In the North Pier, for example, where the wall fixtures are not made of wood, passenger information is applied directly to the walls. This variety of applications illustrates once more the strength of the clear, integrated design concept.

The ar­chi­tec­tural pat­terns were in­cor­po­rated into the ori­en­ta­tion sys­tem and re­fined for the graph­ics. In this way, the ori­en­ta­tion sys­tem is op­ti­mally in­te­grated into the ar­chi­tec­ture, as in this ex­am­ple of the wood panel walls.
The ar­chi­tec­ture is in­spired equally by the pine forests of Bran­den­burg and the mod­ern build­ings of Berlin. Hor­i­zon­tally set lines be­came the fun­da­men­tal de­sign el­e­ment for both the ar­chite­cture and the ori­en­ta­tion sys­tem.
The ruled lines, par­tic­u­larly on large let­ters, pre­vent them from be­ing too bright, and pro­vide the per­fect con­trast for the back­lit signs. Dig­i­tal print­ing on foil proved to be the best man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nique: the red glow shines through just as clearly and looks calm. Smaller ar­eas with purely white let­ter­ing, on the other hand, are par­tic­u­larly bright and clearly vis­i­ble. Thus, it is pos­si­ble to dif­fer­en­ti­ate font size and style us­ing tonal val­ues with­out the need for mul­ti­ple colours.
The lines vi­su­alise the be­hav­iour of air­flow, the force which gives the air­craft its lift.
The con­cept of us­ing lines in the ori­en­ta­tion sys­tem con­tin­ues onto the walls and glass and acts as a safety mea­sure against walk­ing into the glass.
The air­port’s cor­po­rate font con­nects the dig­i­tal signs to the ori­en­ta­tion sys­tem.