There’s more to maps than meets the eye

Filed under research & consultation

The first step with any design project is to do your research. So we’ve been collecting and using maps.

A recent trip to london gave cause to consider the ‘design classic’ albeit notoriously geographically inanccurate underground map. I find this hybrid london bus route map more interesting (see page 2), partly because of the thumbnail images of buildings and especially as we found oursleves largely navigating by the greenspaces of london from a pocket-size colour A-Z style map. This starts to combine both. We weren’t visiting the areas yet  covered by the legible london pilots although we’re obviously taking a great interest in the excellent work being done there.

In contrast to London, a holiday in the Yorkshire Dales found me half way up a hill above Settle wearing inappropriate footwear searching, with an enthusiastic 5 year old, for some caves suggested by a map that had no indication of distance and was next to useless. We didn’t find the caves. Another trek using a written guide to a route to find an otherwise well-hidden waterfall was much more successful.

It’s these kind of contrasts – visual versus written instructions, point-of-view images versus plan drawings – that we’ll be researching and testing within Scarborough with the intention of discovering how easy or difficult our town is to navigate and what local idiosyncrasies should influence a uniqely Scarborough map. We’ll record that process on this blog and post interesting examples, tasty nuggets, mild diversions and outcomes of our research as we come across them.

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