Project Information

Category: Competition
Date: 2023 
Status: Unbuilt
Location: UK
Organizer: National Highways in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Award: Highly Commended scheme


Project Architect: Hooman Talebi

Project Lead: Farshad Nasiri

Project Manager: Ehsan Masoud

Design Team: Minoo Mashhadi, Razie Rasapour


Rendering: MohamadReza Hourjandi

National Highways, in collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), launched an open architectural design competition to enhance the aesthetic appeal of highway gantries, aiming for a more visually consistent and pleasing experience for drivers. Among the three commended proposals, MARZ Studio’s entry stood out for its innovative use of digital screen technology, transforming the gantry into a cohesive information-based structure that marries efficiency with striking visual design.

Design proposal by Marz Architecture+Design

Our design concept in Marz Studio for a new generation of highway gantries moves away from both the late 19th century idea of design of structure as a spectacle or the 20th century technological presentation of bare functional form. Instead, our proposal transforms the Gantry as a design object fit for the 21st century, benefiting from the contemporary technologies of signage where the efficacy and instantaneous control of information transmission, as well as energetic functioning of its functional form, enhances its aesthetic presence and sustainable performance within environment. 

Exploded diagram
Gantries Family
Legibility Diagram

Our proposed design for Filterface uses the existing structure to form a new sign system. A new belt/screen of black tubes with LED pixels of light attached to one end fed by solar panels wraps around the existing structure and turns this configuration of parts into a single sculptural form functioning as a sign made of pixelated by tubes of light. However, this is not simply a screen that covers the existing structural skeleton; it is an optical filter that interferes with the rectilinear/industrial image of the structure and transforms it into a dynamic spatial pattern that responds to the observer`s movement. The densely calculated arrangement of tubes ensures the legibility of the signs within the Reading Distance area. (Image) 

As such, the information/signage and the structure merge into one object.  Both aesthetic and efficient, the new Gantry avoids materially demolishing the existing structures and produces transformed gantries to gain sustainable efficiency while enhancing its sculptural aesthetic effect in its new integrated hybrid form. Whereas on the front side, the Gantry faces drivers, the pixelated rods are precisely arranged to maximize legibility within the effective visual zone; on the rear, the mesh turns the screen into a plane to be used for temporary informational messages or simply as a canvas for visual pleasure.