Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Pieter van Rosmalen's picture

Hello,

Last month the new main train station of Berlin was opened. It's a very impressive building.
They use a custom (?) typeface in their advertisement, posters etc.
Is there anybody who can tell me more about the typeface?
Thanks!

Pieter

dan_reynolds's picture

This is the from the extensive new Bahn typeface family that Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwarz designed for Deutsche Bahn recently. It is still only sporadically seen in Germany, because implementation takes a long time over such a big network. Most of the printed stuff seems to have changed over in my neck of the woods, though.

Since the Berlin train station just opened, I guess they would have done things in the new type, instead of redoing things. Looks good, though, right?

w_berlin's picture

This is DBType, a custom font created by Erik Spiekermann's office United Designers for Deutsche Bahn (german rail company).

See this link for details:
http://www.spiekermann.com/iblog/C61720386/E20051013130639/index.html

Pieter van Rosmalen's picture

It is indeed a very nice typeface. The shape of the stroke endings makes it very crisp.
Thanks for the information and link!

Pieter

dezcom's picture

Kinda makes we wish some American signage would take notice and try something as sweet as that. We sure could use something as well done here it here in the Washington Metro stations.

ChrisL

Pieter van Rosmalen's picture

Chris, maybe you can convince them that they need a new typeface for signage and promotion!

Pieter

dezcom's picture

Pieter,
Yes, me against the Metro Board! I would need some clout somehow to push them into spending money for new signs--maybe some other folks would join in and help?

ChrisL

dan_reynolds's picture

Chris, I think that one of the problems is decentralization. In Germany, the train company (which is still state owned, or at least mostly state owned) is involved with every local city's transit networks as well. They run the commuter trains, while local organizations seem to handle subways, trams, and buses. Local transit system have their own signage identities (especially Berlin and Munich, whose most recent redesigns are all very good, in my opinion, even if the whole network wasn't really covered).

If Amtrak was a real, well, a real *anything*, maybe one could talk to them about a national Amtrak signage typeface and/or system. Local prop-us like the DC Metro might then be impressed by said results, and a "me too" effect could ensure. The closest thing one can show would be James Maltabano's new highway faces. Somehow, I don't think that showing European success stories, even great ones, would carry much water :(

I worked in DC for a year, and I must say that I was thankful that Metro had any sort of coherent signage system at all. It wasn't good, but in the US, most transit authorities seem not to put anything together.

dezcom's picture

Dan,
You are right. It would not be the best approach to show European success. We would need to do one of our own. James has done much of this kind of work and may want to show his success to the Metro folks. The Metro board is made up of DC, VA, and MD officials who as a committee, agree or disagree about how to do things so it isn't a smooth path.

ChrisL

Stephen Lording's picture

Very nice. Any chance someone could take me a quick pic of a new sign in action? I'd love to add this one to my train(signage)spotter collection? :-)

twardoch's picture

Of course, if the whole thing is centralized like in Germany, it’s gonna be only one designer’s office who will do the one typeface and that’s it. In the U.S., you have great chances that more local folks will get commissions from the local transportation authorities, and that there will be more competition.

mili's picture

Stephen,
I'll be going to Berlin in August and a look at the new station has been planned. I saw it last year when it was not quite ready, so it should be interesting to see it finished. I'll try to take a picture for you.

dezcom's picture

Mili,
Would you post pictures here for the rest of us too?

Thanks,

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Stephen, have you ever come across a platform sign with super-extended letters?

It would be similar in effect to "STOP" painted on a road in super-condensed letters.

Stephen Lording's picture

Mili, that's brilliant. Thanks a lot. I love Typophile (where people don't laugh if you ask them to travel to another country to photograph a sign).

Nick, no I haven't, but then my collection is still in its infancy. If the 'STOP' on the road is super-condensed because it's on the ground, would you likewise paint super-extended letters on the platform to be read as you travel past? Be a great way to add a some texture to an otherwise dull surface, anyway. Like the opposite (in size) to the Concorde station in Paris. Few things better than letterforms to create texture. :-)


stw's picture

Nice sample! Havent seen the DB Type in use yet. So i think the signs will be change soon at the stations in Dortmund (maybe 600km away from Berlin). I am looking forward to them. : )

mjh's picture

As far as I have learned, Deutsche Bahn are using Spiekermann's typeface for printed material only. Signage remains what it has been for the last couple of years. See this picture on Flickr for example.

leonpmc's picture

I visited the Berlin Hauptbahnhof a few days after it opened. The information system in the new station does not utilize the new Spiekermann typeface. You see this new face, however, in the on-board printed timetables DB places in just about every seat in the EC and ICE trainsets. (although the graphic integration/modifications in the timetables are not yet complete)

Additionally, the new typeface was viewed by billions during the world cup, as it was clearly present in close proximity to the goalposts on the DB billboard cards in virtually all twelve stadiums.

Some of my Berliner friends criticize the new Hauptbahnhof because it flows the ICE trains away from the traditional Berlin Stadtbahn stations, but that is a very minor flaw. Others are upset because the original design was compromised by DB to reduce costs. I heard others call it a "big shopping plaza."

I say all of this is nonsense. This new station is so intriguing, so compelling, so well thought out, that it becomes clear immediately upon arriving that it is the most light-years advanced facility of its kind in the world. Its the first epic train station built from the ground up in Europe in 100 years. As a lifelong resident of highway cluttered California, its a joy experiencing public facilities like this one.

dan_reynolds's picture

Some of my Berliner friends criticize the new Hauptbahnhof because it flows the ICE trains away from the traditional Berlin Stadtbahn stations, but that is a very minor flaw.

Actually, this is a very major flaw, especially if you live in Berlin, or are visiting Berlin for virtually any business or pleasure trip. The location of this new station is only good for traveling politicians, and a few people who travel to meet business or consoluting contacts in the government park.

The train station is a monolith that was intended to act as a service hub for a city of 6 million. However, since reunification, Berlin's population has not doubled, as was originally expected. And even if Germany had another economic miracle, I doubt that it would.

But, it is a pretty building.

twardoch's picture

> Actually, this is a very major flaw,
> especially if you live in Berlin

Not true. Thanks to Hauptbahnhof, the thin and very error-prune East-West connection can be relieved a bit. This should result in less delays and better scheduling. One of the major flaws of the Berlin train transit so far was that if one train was late, the entire system was shuffled around because practically all trains had to be rescheduled.

Getting to Hauptbahnhof from any of the other stations (Ostbahnhof, Friedrichstrasse, Zoo) is really not much of a challenge. You just go to another platform and take an S-Bahn.

A.

leonpmc's picture

The benefits and flow of the new system were quite evident: during my visit, I used the Hauptbahnhof as a transfer point to the S-bahn on twelve occasions, day and night. The total aggregate time I spent waiting for S-bahn trains on the upper Bahnsteig during those twelve journeys was about ninety seconds.

Yet, if you live in Charlottenberg and use the ICE frequently, you must transfer to the S-bahn upon arriving in Berlin. This is a major annoyance, to say the least. Also, there must be fears that the new Hauptbahnhof will overshadow the efficiency, charm, and character of the other Berlin stations, which are world-class facilities in their own right.

mili's picture

Better late than never... I visited Berlin mid August, but I still use a camera with film, so producing pictures for this format took some time.

Here's the new station from the outside

and here's the platform sign

Some advertising

and an unexpected restaurant

Some pictures from other stations

From the East

In Charlottenburg

and Wannsee

Nick Shinn's picture

I can imagine a reaction against totalitarian signage systems in a few years time.
That will be more work for typographers and type designers of course.

Because how can you have a unique sense of place when everywhere is signed the same?

Typeface systems such as Chalet 1960/70/80 and Lisboa/Lisboa Sans point the way.
Not quite the same thing as Humana or such mega-families.

When I worked for Raymond Lee back in 1980, one of our clients was the National Ballet of Canada. Ray would use any face that caught his fancy, Pontifex, Goudy OS, Bodoni, Century, Garamond -- in his own exemplary manner of course.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Mili!

ChrisL

PS: I still use film too ;-)

Stephen Lording's picture

Hey, thanks for the shots, Mili.

And um, "Bombardier"?! Way to make me feel "willkommen"! I wonder what they do if you can't pay your bill? Sometimes you just need to let a pun go... :-)

Jonathan Clede's picture

I'm sure Bombardier refers to the company, probably the major manufacturer for the trains. But yes, it is a bit of a frightening word.

dezcom's picture

"Sometimes you just need to let a pun go"

Never!

ChrisL

Stephen Lording's picture

Ha. I thought I might get such a reaction from you, Chris. :-)

And yes, I guess it would be rather a grand sign for a bar, but that highlighted 'bar' bit drew my eye and led me to conclusions. Conclusions encouraged by bars being (I think) second only to hairdressers for shoe-horning a pun into their name, no matter how weak a connection might be. Scubar, Bar Humbug, Bar None, Brew Bar Ha, The Candy Bar, etc, etc. 'Bombardier' seems right at home. I do like one in Melbourne called 'So bar' though. Very responsible name for a bar. :-)

timd's picture

Now Old King Cole was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he
He called for is pipe in the middle of the night and he called for
his Bombardiers three.

Bubble Line Level Line Bubble said the Bombardier
Beer Beer Beer said the Gunners,
Merry merry men are we;
There's none so fair as can compare with the Royal Artillery

Tim

dezcom's picture

Stephen,
I think I have seen many unaffiliated bars called "The Elbow Room" in every town and hollow. It does wear thin after more than 10,000 viewings :-)

ChrisL

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