Area C
Naming, logo and sign system for Milan’s
congestion charge.
Area C
Naming, logo and sign system for Milan’s congestion charge.
area c milano logo
The symbol and logotype designed
for Milan’s Area C.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari + Total Tool
area c milano cartelli
Graphic example of horizontal
road markings.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
area c milano congestion charge
One of the signs and an
anamorphic road markings.

Ph. © All rights reserved
The Congestion Charge of Milan

In 2011 the Municipality of Milan launched a popular referendum to deal with the problem of pollution, following which a congestion charge system called Area C was established with the purpose of contain urban traffic and consequently reducing pollutions produced by vehicles.

Closed by 43 gates, 7 of which are for the exclusive use of public transport, the Area C coincides with an area of the historic centre that is called the Cerchia dei Bastioni (Circle of Bastions), which can only be accessed by paying a toll. Circulation was also completely banned for the most polluting vehicles and made free for electric ones.
mappa milano 1832
The perimeter of the Cerchia
dei Bastioni, already clearly visible
in a 19th century map of Milan.

© Atlassen
area c milano congestion charge
One of the street signs positioned
at the access gates to Area C.

Ph. © All rights reserved
expo 2015 boulevard bandiere
The installation of the first signs positioned at the access gates.

Ph. © All rights reserved
A Public Utility Project

The communication design for Area C was a comple and important project, during which all the phases of the process were addressed, from naming to logo design, from colour identification to the definition of typography, from the coordination of the signage system to the development of promotional materials.

A massive information campaign accompanied the introduction of the Area C—two million postcards, one hundred thousand flyers, nearly five hundred posters distributed in schools, dozens of billboards in the subway lines, door-to-door activity carried out by volunteers, in addition to the seven hundred thousand letters sent by the mayor of Milan to citizens.
area c milano congestion charge
Numerous volunteers contributed to the Area C information campaign.

Ph. © All rights reserved
area c milano congestion charge
The logo of Area C, reproduced
on all bicycles of the public bike sharing service.

Ph. © BikeMi
area c milano congestion charge
An invitation to a conference
dedicated to Area C, held at the Triennale Design Museum.

2012 © Nicola-Matteo Munari + Total Tool
Identity and Signage System

Given the number of implications that are inevitable in a project of this magnitude, the principle that guided the design choices was that of clarity and simplicity, so that communication would be understandable to anyone, but at the same time open to everyone’s interpretation.

For this reason, it was chosen a simple name but also a name with an open meaning—the C could stand for city centre, but also for Cerchia dei Bastioni, or congestion charge. And among the dozens of logos that were designed, it was chosen a logo that may looks like a leaf, but in fact clearly represents a schematic graphic diagram of the urban portion that coincides with Area C.

Thanks to such a symbol and given the possibility of accessing the area from different points of the city, it was possible to devise a system of geo-referencing road signs—perhaps a first case in the world—on which a coloured circle indicates the exact point of the perimeter where you are accessing the area.
area c milano cartelli
Compositional scheme between
symbol and logotype.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari + Total Tool
area c milano congestion charge
The geo-referenced signage
system with the location
of the access point to Area C.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari + Total Tool
area c milano congestion charge
A manual was devised with
the information about
usage of the Area C logo.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
An Ecological Vision

The choice of the colours has been made in full respect of the standards related to street signage and giving a particular attention to the legibility of signs among other signs that were already present on the street.

The hues that were identified are the more appropriate to communicate the idea of ecology and the sensation of positivity associated to the introduction of a system aimed at improving the environmental quality.

The horizontal road markings were designed in anamorphosis and painting with an ecological technique that let the logo appear through jets of cleaning liquid.

To provide excellent legibility to texts on the signs, a specific typeface called Area was purposely designed with letters characterised by large openings and counterforms, thus facilitating fast and easy reading even from a long distance.
area c milano congestion charge
Preliminary sketches for the study
of the typeface designed to
be used for the logo and signage.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
area c milano congestion charge
A presentation of the logotype set
in the purposely designed typeface called Area.

2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
area c milano congestion charge
2011 © Nicola-Matteo Munari + Total Tool
The Quality of Air

Introduced on an experimental basis in January 2012 and immediately opposed by the opposition political forces, Area C proved to be an important measure for improving the quality of the environment, extremely positive from both an environmental and an economic point of view.

Generating almost 30 million euros in annual revenues—used to finance the subway and the public bike sharing service—thanks to Area C the traffic has decreased by 30%, the speed of public transport has increased by 6% and road accidents have decreased by 28%.

Above all, the emissions of the main pollutants have drastically decreased, including PM10 (–22%), ammonia (–15%), nitrogen oxides (–20%), carbon dioxide (–22%), and carbon black (–40%), improving the air quality for the benefit of both the environment and the people.

—Nicola-Matteo Munari

City of Milan

Total Tool, Milan

CernutoPizzigoni, Milan

Creative Direction
Giulio Ceppi

Nicola-Matteo Munari

Marcela Betancur
Stefano Mandato

Project Date