Events and public defences

Doctoral thesis: Predictive system design solutions to direct and optimise the flow of visitors in large spaces


In his thesis MA (Dipl. Des.) Markus Schröppel focuses on producing guidance aid for large, shared spaces through graphic design. The results of the study and the corresponding solutions and recommendations can be used to avoid problems in confronting icons and guidance systems. The presented solutions, with the array of methodologies and the focus on the user, enable us to efficiently check and evaluate the functionality of existing sign systems.

Only a moment's disorientation can bring joy or cause an utter disaster, or lead to the loss of an entire annual holiday, or ruin the success of a business transaction. Such tragedies and changes of fortune happen every day at international airport terminals when passengers desperately search for the departure gate. The rapid development of international traffic characterises our increasingly globalised and ever more complex world. Long-haul travel is booming as a result of reduced fares, and airport terminals are suddenly populated by hordes of people unfamiliar with the local "access interface". Airports have formed in nodal points, where people from various cultural backgrounds and with differing levels of education need to reorient themselves in an unfamiliar and often confusing environment.

According to Mr. Markus Schröppel, a key condition for ensuring that everything works smoothly in such an international junction is the fast reception and immediate processing of information by everyone involved. Numerous studies attest the difficulty experienced by airline passengers in trying to navigate their way through an unfamiliar and crowded environment with the help of a symbol- and text-based signage system.

Designers usually do not focus on the use pictograms. On the basis of a number of case studies, the following question has arisen: "Is it possible to evolve a predictive system to develop, implement, and verify design solutions to direct and optimise the flow of visitors in large public spaces?"

Overcoming age, language and culture barriers

In his dissertation Mr. Markus Schröppel focused on the visual perception and spatial orientation of people seeking their way through large and crowded spaces. The moment of meaning-making is experienced differently by each individual and spans the entire spectrum of perceiving a designated item – from manifold interpretations to absolute certainty. The various perspectives on "situational awareness", accompanied by a number of methodologies, provide solutions to the design process. Furthermore, taking into account perceptual psychology contributes to the systemic/holistic and user-centred design of orientation systems in public spaces.

Identifying and consulting the predictive parameters of a systematic process yields practicable solutions to the planning and evaluation of guidance and routing systems. The process reliability and processing quality of these solutions have been demonstrated in various national and international case studies. Through observation and interpretation, the ethnic habits and personal views of people were taken into account to develop the method. The capacity of the model and the perationalisation of the research demonstrated the effectiveness of the method in overcoming the barriers of age, language, and culture.

A variety of experiments and practical applications show that this thesis is not merely based on logical conclusions. Here are a few examples of applications already implemented through the method: the rework of the Public Guidance System at the Düsseldorf Airport (2007); Reflection on the Experience of Signage Without Signs: Krefeld (GER) Hospital (2008); Testing and Optimisation the Visual Saliency of Signs at the Bremen (GER) Airport (2009); Raising Public Awareness for the Design of Public Spaces and Signage in the Berlin (GER) Humboldthain Park (2010); and Development of a User-Friendly Design for a Signage System for Adults and Children at the Junior Uni, Wuppertal (GER) (2013).

Information on the public examination of the dissertation:

MA (Dipl. Des.) Markus Schröppel's doctoral thesis Elimination of doubt: Methods for a predictive design to direct and optimise the flow of visitors will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Art and Design, University of Lapland on Saturday 28 November 2015 at 12 noon in the Esko ja Asko auditorium (street address: Yliopistonkatu 8, Rovaniemi). The Opponent will be Dr., Senior Lecturer Joyce S. R. Yee from the Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK). The Custos will be Professor Dr. Riitta Brusila from the University of Lapland. Welcome!

Information on the doctoral candidate:

Marku Schröppel

Mr. Markus Schröppel (born 1965 in Nördlingen, Bavaria, Germany) graduated as a diploma designer in 1996 at Fachhochschule Augsburg, Germany and received a second diploma in 2002 at Wuppertal University, Germany. Mr. Schröppel studied as an exchange student in 1994–1995 at Rovaniemen taide- ja käsiteollisuusoppilaitos, Finland.

In addition to his positions as a creative director in advertising agencies, he has been a teacher and trainer of communications design and typography since 1996 and given lectures on visual communication at the University of Lapland since 2007.

He is currently working as a professor of graphic design and visual communication at the HMKW (Hochschule für Medien, Kommunikation und Wirtschaft) University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

Further information:

Markus Schröppel
m.schroeppel (at)
Tel. +49 221 22 21 39 27

Press copies of the thesis are available at Lapland University Press, tel. 040 821 4242, publications (at)

Printed copies of the book can be purchased via Verkkokauppa Juvenes.

Information on the Publication:

Markus Schröppel: Elimination of doubt: Methods for a predictive design to direct and optimise the flow of visitors. Acta Universitatis Lapponiensis 313. ISBN 978-952-484-857-2. ISSN 0788-7604. Web version (pdf): Acta Electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 181. ISBN 978-952-484-858-9. ISSN (pdf) 1796-6310.

ULapland / Communications & Language Centre / RJ&AT
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