Signboards: Inconsistent signboards and billboards in the city calls for legal rules and regulations to guide the signage designs in the city, according to the thromde.

Thimphu thromde, recognising the need for proper signboards and billboards to represent the city’s identity for different activities such as commercial, institutions, industries, private property and offices, among others, drafted signage guidelines last year.

Thromde’s executive secretary, Passang Dorji, said that the signboards in the city are currently inconsistent and spoiling the aesthetics. “The existing signboards are un-monitored and designed with poor safety measures because of lack of legal rules and regulations to guide the signage design.”

In other countries, a building’s architectural design is hidden with signboards covering more than half of the building. “We don’t want such things to happen in our country,” Passang Dorji said. “Thimphu, being the capital of Bhutan, we want to keep it unique.”

An urban planner with the thromde pointed out that many of the current signboards in the city contain unnecessary information including inappropriate graphics but not the necessary information like contact details.

The urban planner said that poor maintenance of the signboards and safety issues can also be seen in the city. “Some of the current signboards are poorly anchored to the main structure, with wiring exposed, and the boards torn and colours faded,” he added.

Passang Dorji said that the thromde is collaborating with the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority and the draft Signage Guidelines 2016, will be implemented this year.

After the implementation of the guidelines, all the signage displayed should be designed as per the guidelines and approved by the respective authority, he added. If found not complying with the guidelines, the person shall be fined with respect to the number of days the guidelines are violated.

A building’s front will be allowed to have a maximum of three types of signage. However, the sign displayed should not overlook the architectural element of building and should have similar character to the sign displayed within the same building front to avoid varieties in signs displayed on the same building.

The guideline says that signage shall not exceed the Maximum Signage Allowable Area for activities allocated in the building. The signage allowable area shall be calculated with respect to the front area of the activity that is the maximum area used by the particular activity.

Use of window graphics, door graphics and standing signage will not be considered during the signage allowable area calculation, however, content of signage such as text and contact numbers in window and door graphics shall be included during calculation of allowable area.

Each function/activity shall be allowed to have a maximum of two types of signage with one major and one minor sign on the storefront.

Those functions on building sides or rear without direct access/opposite to access point shall be allowed to have one directional signage on the front of the building. The signage should not be big and obscure the storefront signage.

The guideline classifies signage to different types according to different uses each property or area provides.

To create uniform and reliable signage throughout the city, the guidelines consist of standards that include the materials to be used, signboard design and construction, contents, location or placement of signboards, among others.

Passang Dorji said that once the guideline are implemented, it would beautify the street with reliable and uniform signage for different activities within the city.

The guideline is subject to review to meet the changing need of the user and functions as and when needed.

The thromde had posted the draft guideline on its website and has invited individuals and organisations to comment or review on any needed changes and improvements on the draft guideline.

Dechen Tshomo