As proof copies of the map are heading out the door for use in workshops and as visitors to the studio take a look and comment, the main question is as to why it focusses on the town centre when Scarborough is so much more than that.
If you’ve been following progress on this blog, the reason is probably apparent. But if you’re dipping in in advance of the launch event, here’s a quick explanation which will also provide a neat overview of the theory behind the map.
The aim is to steer people to Scarborough’s cultural, historical and arts-related places, and by association, events. By doing so it is hoped that residents and visitors alike will build a picture of Scarborough as a culturally vibrant town and their movements around it will be shaped as a result.
In order to make this happen we felt this had to be a very usable/useful map, not something that would only appeal to people already looking for an arts experience. This led us to cognitive mapping – a theory that you can/should draw maps aligned to how the human brain works when working out journeys. A key part of cognitive mapping is the brain’s use of landmarks to navigate by. So, we thought, what if we loaded our map with cultural landmarks, thereby encouraging people to navigate by, and thus notice these places?
To enable us to draw a map which would function in this way meant working at a particular scale, and practicality issues meant A2 was going to be the limiting paper size in providing a physically useful map. The end result of taking this approach would be that we would only be able to concentrate on the town centre.
So the decision was made to focus on this locale and have an inset of the wider Scarborough area.
It’s a compromise and it does admittedly provide some problems, particularly in creating trails to accompany the map, many of which which will not be limited to the town centre.
The alternative however would have been to show a wider area but lessen the effectiveness of the cognitive mapping theory. There are a couple of existing maps of Scarborough which could have been quickly adapted to highlight cultural venues but would this has affected the way people move around the town? Our research suggests not.
There are some benefits to our decision beyond the cognitive mapping theory – it has allowed us add a level of detail that’s totally unique to this map and as such is the first map of the town truly designed for pedestrians rather than cars. It has also resulted in (or so people are telling us) a visually striking and somewhat unique map that attracts attention just because of how it looks.
We see this printed map as just the start. It is experimental, a pilot almost, but it opens up a whole new approach to mapping Scarborough. There’s scope to continue to map areas of the town in this detail if desired, particularly as hand-held digital media become more widespread. Or until we can print bigger maps that don’t blow away in the wind.