Tag Archives: 2D map

Here’s a first run at a poster I made trying to simplify Germany in order to memorize the provinces and the capital cities. I learned a while ago that maps are more understandable when corners and lines (or complex shapes) are minimized, so I used only 90 and 45 degree angles and simplified shapes and fonts. The map is part of a 1-poster-a-day project I’m trying to do over the next 100 days.

Poster 160528-01



Cities are built on networks of streets that move us through urban space, while also providing spaces for us to shop, hang out and observe. In today’s world however, the history and nature of the street is closely tied to the automobile.

While automobiles have allowed us to quickly travel long distances and easily transport heavy materials, there have still been negative effects resulting from their use. Cities around the world must accommodate pollution and smog caused from fossil fuel use in automobiles. As well, cars produce high amounts of noise which reduce the quality of life for people living near high-traffic roads and highways. Cities mitigate these negative effects with speed limits and other forms of control.

With this in mind, I wanted to see how the Berlin was organized based on its speed limits. I drew the following map of Berlin’s street network:

Article 1 - Speed Map-01

Unlike many North American cities that I’m more used to, Berlin has an irregular, quasi-radial street network with a half-completed ring road – all of which are remnants of Berlin’s tumultuous history.

For example, many larger avenues were based on the 17th century region’s urban structure, where Berlin was a small walled city surrounded by a constellation of small villages. As the city grew beyond its walls, these well-used roads were solidified as thoroughfares. During the Cold War and in the divided city, West Berlin invested in building heavy automobile infrastructure, including wide highways, tunnels, bridges and overpasses to build a ‘car-friendly’ city, with the hopes that the ring would be completed after reunification. In today’s Berlin, we see more and more suburban developments growing, requiring slow roads or even private local roads and the rise of semi-gated communities.

These histories are reflected in the speeds of the roads that one sees in the map. Large mid-speed avenues grow out from the old city center in all directions. Former West Berlin’s spine is demarcated in dark grey – a fast set of autobahns that slice through the city. On the fringes are wide blocks with extremely slow-speed roads reflected in a light grey – evidence of the suburban nature of these spaces.

In today’s Berlin, I found it somehow striking to see the concessions needed for certain roads. The map of Berlin seems like a constant struggle between speed and quiet living. Many neighbourhoods throughout the city are strongly hierarchical in their street structure: moving from fast arterial streets step-wise to slow residential streets (many featuring traffic calming mechanisms like speed bumps and cobblestones). Furthermore, the highways trace through areas that are strongly industrial or otherwise follow already-present rights of ways (ex. train lines, canals, etc.). The complex decisions associated with trying to accommodate cars in order to build a car-friendly city are ever-present, and become more interesting the deeper I dig.

As I continue to learn about this city that I call home now, I am drawn to the roads and the thoroughfares – maybe because of my close connection to them when I lived in Toronto.

(see a high quality map here: PDF, 9.8MB)

Edit – added a creative commons licence to the maps, as well as my name! 

151110 - Stadtklang

A map I just came across today is this one – the Stadtklang map by the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung and Wissenschaft im Dialog. The map is part of the German government’s science year programming, this year’s theme being The City of the Future (Zukunftsstadt).

The map is an interesting way of trying to get people to submit and collect the sounds around them. Part of the map is actually an upload section where you provide the sound recordings you’ve made. What I found interesting was the flow of the site – in order to hear the sounds, you follow a link on the front page. This takes you to a list, where you can immediately input your postal code (PLZ) to hear sounds nearby. Within these audio entries, there is a smaller link saying, “see on map (Auf Karte ansehen).” I think this is great because the flow matches people’s general tendency with maps to hone in on their home first and foremost. Once a person has their bearings, they can decide to let their eyes wander and explore the map. I am often a fan of these situations where the map ‘knows its place’, so to speak.

Link (to map):


A perennial problem in Berlin, for some reason, is figuring out where the city’s transit zones start and end. A seemingly simple question, but somehow so difficult to find answers to. The city’s transit operator, the BVG, has the map locked up in strange locations on the website, making it difficult to find the map.

I thought I’d do a service and post files here (as of May 2015):

ABC BVG Berlin Transit Map Karte (PDF 244 KB)
ABC BVG Berlin Transit Map Karte (PNG  940 KB)

with a bunch of common searches: ABC Berlin, ABC map Berlin, ABC Karte Berlin, ABC BVG, BVG Karte Berlin, BVG map Berlin, Transit map Berlin, plan BVG,

Accessibility doesn’t only mean putting information online – it has to be easy and quick to access too! Check out the bvg’s website here:

In the last few months I’ve been working with social scientist, Christine Prieser here in Berlin who’s work focuses on the function of bouncers (Türsteher) in the world of the night. Her work is extremely interesting and I was of course interested in getting involved in some way.

Together we dreamed up 168 Hours Berlin-Friedrichshain. In this project we sought to examine the nature of time in the city. Our ultimate goal would be to show how the city morphs through time, and that the space of the city is never constant. We starting on this exploration by examining what spaces could be entered and accessed from public space through a typical week.

In order to do this, we collected data on all of the street-level building uses throughout a section of the Berlin neighbourhood of Friedrichshain. Going door to door, we coded the each entrance to see what spaces could be entered. We collected information about the use, opening times, and form of entrance and then used this data to show how Friedrichshain opens and closes through 168 hours (the number of hours in a week). In cases where opening times were not displayed, we estimated them based on similar uses. Below are a sample of maps at selected times of the week, showing where one can enter, where each dot is an enterable space.

Map 1 - Monday Map 2 - Wednesday Map 3 - Friday Map 4 - Saturday

This is an ongoing project, and we hope to hone our analysis in the near future. Particularly important is the question of access, since access is different for different people. A space may be open, but it may not be welcoming, and certain spaces are selective to certain groups of people. Central to our analysis are critiques of the dichotomy of ‘day and night’, as well as the overarching focus of the disciplines of Planning, Geography and Civil Engineering on general daily patterns (i.e., the 9-5 work day).

This week’s tab-closing is all about sensory mapping – many people are wandering into the world of mapping the senses and a lot of very interesting problems are being faced. There are growing questions about what the purpose of geographical accuracy holds in the spatial representation of the senses. As well, the purpose of the map is called into question – is it for planning purposes, or to experience the senses of the world? What is the point of ‘collecting’ and archiving sensory experiences? Interestingly many of the maps and analyses have come out of the UK.

Sensory Mapping 1

(Photo copyright Joe Cornish)

British Coast Sound Map 

During the summer of 2015, the British Library is crowdsourcing a map of the sounds of the UK coast. The Library basically collects the sounds and posts them to the coordinates of the recording location. The result is a Google map with several points corresponding to different sounds throughout the UK’s coast. The aim was to have a permanent archive of the sounds of the UK summer. Interestingly the British Library already has an enormous collection of sound recordings in their holdings. Some of the holdings can be seen here:


Sensory mapping 3

(Photo copyright Kate McLean, Daniele Quercia, Rossano Schifanella and Luca Maria Aiello)

London’s Stinkmap 

Another map by UK designer Kate McLean, along with three computer scientists. The stinkmaps are visualizations of tags and words from social media posts, based on smell-words. The words were collected into a few categories (animals, food, emissions, nature) using algorithms that found word clusters.  Apparently the group has made the first dictionary of urban scents, containing about 285 words in English.


Sensory Mapping 4

(Photo copyright the Sound Survey UK)

Mapping the sound of London’s waterways 

This is a map collecting sounds of along London’s canals and streams. The map is based on the London Tube map. It always seems like subway map design is often a popular way to visualize data – people seem always to be attracted to these forms of maps.


Sensory Mapping 5

(Photo copyright

Questioning Sound Maps

From the same blog as the waterways sound map, is an interesting critique of sound maps that are overly dependent on spatial accuracy (specifically Google maps). The post discusses different ways in which sound mapping and web design are being creatively developed on the internet. It also contains a treasure trove of interesting interactive sound websites.


Sensory Mapping 6

(Photo copyright Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton)

Tasting Toronto through neighbourhood vegetation

This event took place at the Luminato Festival this past June and involved two artists cooking plant life from three iconic Torontonian neighbourhoods. The idea would be to give a sense of what the different communities ‘taste like’. The artists cook the plant material and serve it as meals for attendees.

As I continue to try to close my browser tabs, I will post today of some map examples that I wanted to keep track of. The topic – the evolution of Berlin’s nightlife and transit system map designs.

Berlin Club Kataster

Blog - Berlin Maps - Club Kadaster

The Berlin Club Kataster is a map that shows the locations of known Berlin nightclubs from the beginning of the 20th century to present day. The map shows different forms of clubs, including music bars, theaters, galleries and others. It also allows the user to play through time to watch the clubs appear and disappear. According to urbannightlife, there is a marked increase in clubs around 2009, mostly because many clubs couldn’t pin down exactly when they were established, and so, use that date as a catchall.

The map is especially interesting because of all the information it provides for each club and venue. The map was created by Musicboard Berlin GmbH, and is constantly being updated.


Mapping Berlin’s Transit System

Blog - Berlin Maps - Old Transit Map

This article in Slow Travel Berlin, provides a number of examples of old maps that were created to show Berlin’s underground and surface rail system. One of the most interesting things that these maps show are the psychological connections we have to a transit system that may not necessarily be directly about the use. The last section of the article shows the way politics and current events influenced the design of the transit map – first through Berlin’s east-west division, and then through Germany’s unification. The contemporary map was interestingly designed with much of the system still incomplete. The most prominent symbol, the Ring Bahn, was incomplete when the map was designed, but was such a strong symbol for unity that it was displayed regardless.


Recreating an S-Bahn (overground) transit map from the divided Berlin 


The final closed tab was all about a single map of Berlin’s transit, the S-Bahn map of 1980 recreated by Max Robert. This map was especially interesting as it was produced when Berlin was still separated, and had to somehow display the space of West Berlin as a separate nation. Further, the article talks about the politics of infrastructure and proposes that the colourful design was meant to aid in promoting the use of the network. Still, much is unknown about the design decisions underlying the map.