For my thesis project at the Geneva University of Art and Design, I am compiling a collection of signs used in disaster areas, from standardized systems created by professionals to vernacular systems.

By bringing together these examples, that will become an online inventory, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of the role and potential of visual aid in catastrophic situations.

To broaden the scope of my investigation, I would like to request all readers to help me collect relevant examples!

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No smoke without fire

How can visual signs be used at different moments to either help prevent catastrophes, inform populations of disaster zones or as symbols to remember situations of crisis.

From the letters painted on doors during the Peste de Marseille (1720), to the sprayed signs used to mark houses explored for survivors by relief workers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

During situation of emergency different signs systems are generated, either corresponding to international standardized systems or locally developed codes.

How do emergency situations prompt the creation and use of such signs? What is the state of the art in the field? What makes a system efficient, and how can past situations inspire more efficient systems?

Contribute to this research by sending pictures to signs4disaster@gmail.com


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