Leaning signs: The reasons they’re such a nuisance

Written by By Järn Madsen in Stockholm, Sweden; CNN

Leaning signs have caused a flap in the U.K. for the last few months, with signs appearing at busy construction sites to project a variety of images, from nude models to car headlights to the face of Margaret Thatcher.

But the sight of a finger touching the side of a building is as unwelcome to commuters as it is to some artists and designers.

Sergi Bayer’s proposal for leaning sign posts would allow drivers to take the road less traveled and egress with more ease. Credit: Courtesy Siggi Bayer

New research from Swedish architecture firm Urbanspace finds the growing phenomenon is even easier on the eyes, for both humans and animals.

Urbanspace’s research team analyzed photographs of 1,000 of the leaning signs to gauge the visual impact on humans. The team found that the signs look more lovely at the angles they really are, regardless of what their designers intended.

In fact, the more angle there is between the pole and the horizon, the more visually pleasing the design, Urbanspace claims in its findings.

The research challenges the traditional notion that leaning signs negatively affect people’s vision. It points out that when people are trying to back out of the road, leaning signs are actually one of the only things standing between them and their destination.

Sergi Bayer, the architect behind one of the United Kingdom’s most famous leaning signs. Credit: Nick Armitage

“Due to their smaller size, scopes do not allow the viewer to register the changes made by the kicker, which causes visual distress,” the researchers wrote.

Bayer’s proposal for a new network of leaning signs in the city of Gothenburg would shift the pole’s location to fix the skewed effect.

“I designed a bike bridge in Italy, and there were too many complaints because the pole is so far back and you can’t see the train coming down,” he says. “So I figured you need a sign where the pole can actually be seen, and (otherwise) the edges can get crazy.”

Bayer’s design is a radical departure from conventional leaning signs. The design would physically relocate the pole and redirect its positioning closer to the center of the road, which would reduce traffic.

The sign would also turn away the top several times, giving drivers a clearer line of sight into a nearby road that is further down the road.

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