Design studio Wunder Werkz is using design tactics and branding to revive a poor and historically underserved neighborhood and “give it back to the immigrants that made it a home.” The studio is known for an eclectic mix of hospitality, residential/commercial development and other clients.
By way of background, Sun Valley’s 1925 zoning law turned the area into an industrial zone, leaving behind immigrant families who, over the decades, have dealt with various challenges (see a brief history here). As of 2010, nearly 80% of residents live below the poverty line. However, recent efforts by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) have looked to bring residents back with new developments, improved policies and better support for the community and its businesses. To that end, the DHA partnered with Wunder Werkz to give voice to the community, with a new identity that embodies a storied past and hopeful future.
Their team worked hand-in-hand with the community to develop the identity which, beyond the logo, includes:
- Designs for painting large swatches of asphalt to fight the urban heatwell effect
- A monument, using a rammed earth base, created by packing a mixture of gravel, sand, silt and a small amount of clay into place between flat panels
- A tile icon system built from various heritage motifs – flags, textiles, tiles and patterns from a number of cultural groups to create a non-linguistic visual system
- Work to address the neighborhood’s food desert with supermarket Decatur Fresh. This included a custom font translatable into 12 languages.
- Various wayfinding solutions, posters and easy-to-use templates
Wunder Werkz states that its “guiding principles throughout this project were to create a visual language and brand systems as exciting and diverse as the community it was derived for and from a design-perspective create an equitable urban core.”