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Metro Bilbao identity and signs (1988–)

Contributed by Eduardo on Sep 7th, 2020. Artwork published in .
    Metro Bilbao identity and signs (1988–) 1
    Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org License: All Rights Reserved.

    Metro Bilbao is the subway system of Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country in northern Spain. It uses Rotis SemiSans for signage and communications.

    The corporate design including the logo as well as the wayfinding system were designed by Otl Aicher and developed by his team members Michael Weiss and Hans Brucklacher.

    In 1988, the contract for the underground metro system in Bilbao was awarded to the architects Sir Norman Foster and partners, following an open competition. The same year the first underground station was opened in Erandio, on the existing Bilbao-Plentzia railway. [Wikipedia] According to Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura MUGAK, this “exemplar mass transport information design project was realized thanks to [Aicher’s] special relationship with […] Foster”. Bilbao’s subway signage system was the last important design project of Aicher. Born in 1922, the German graphic designer and Ulm School of Design main co-founder died in 1991, and didn’t live to see the opening of the first part of line 1 in November 1995.

    From the brand presentation:

    The symbol of Metro Bilbao is an abstract figure based on tunnels and wheels in movement. It is formed by three rings of different thicknesses, which “move” inside each other. Their thickness grows in the direction of reading (left to right) and creates a sensation of movement that perfectly expresses the dynamic nature of this means of transport.

    The wordmark uses Rotis SemiSans 65 Bold, in lowercase letters. The serifless yet contrasted typeface is part of Aicher’s Rotis superfamily, which also comprises Rotis SansSerif, Rotis SemiSerif, and Rotis Serif. The initial eight Rotis styles were released in 1988 for AGFA Compugraphic’s laser and digital imagesetters, followed by Postscript versions for desktop use.

    On Issuu, Michael Weiss has shared the brand manual as published in November 1995 in three volumes; Vol. 1 (introduction, basic signs, materials), Vol. 2 (stationery, publications, promotion, advertising), and Vol. 3 (signage, rolling stock, equipment). In 2020, Metro Bilbao still uses the identity with Rotis SemiSans, with applications ranging from station signs to social media.

    Casco Viejo station sign.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    Casco Viejo station sign.

    Areeta station, 2018.
    Source: https://kelvinhayesofficial.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Areeta station, 2018.

    “Trena geldi dagoenean sartu.” (Basque for “Enter when the train is stationary”), photographed in 2012.
    Source: https://groundbeneathmyfeet.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    “Trena geldi dagoenean sartu.” (Basque for “Enter when the train is stationary”), photographed in 2012.

    Line diagrams show station names set on an angle.
    Source: https://www.instagram.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Line diagrams show station names set on an angle.

    Intercom system, 2019.
    Source: https://twitter.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Intercom system, 2019.

    Trilingual sign; in Basque, Spanish, and English. Key info is also provided in Braille.
    Source: https://www.instagram.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Trilingual sign; in Basque, Spanish, and English. Key info is also provided in Braille.

    On this district plan, the English text is set in , which appears to be an exception.
    License: All Rights Reserved.

    On this district plan, the English text is set in Rotis SemiSerif, which appears to be an exception.

    Cover of a brochure with general contracting conditions, 2019.
    Source: https://www.metrobilbao.eus License: All Rights Reserved.

    Cover of a brochure with general contracting conditions, 2019.

    Metro Bilbao identity and signs (1988–) 10
    Source: https://www.metrobilbao.eus License: All Rights Reserved.
    “Masks with valves are not allowed”, 2020.
    Source: https://twitter.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    “Masks with valves are not allowed”, 2020.

    Metro Bilbao identity and signs (1988–) 12
    Source: https://www.skyscrapercity.com License: All Rights Reserved.
    Metro Bilbao identity and signs (1988–) 13
    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org License: All Rights Reserved.
    Sopelako dorrea / Torre de Sopela, 1999.
    Source: https://www.instagram.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Sopelako dorrea / Torre de Sopela, 1999.

    Metro Bilbao identity and signs (1988–) 15
    Source: https://twitter.com License: All Rights Reserved.

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