Category Archives: the map


Filed under design, the map

This month’s Renaissance Newsletter has a timeline of the CHART Scarborough project showing the research that went into the creation of the map and how it evolved as a result. You can pick up a free copy from the renaissance centre on Falconers Road [CHART Scarborough grid reference H10] or download it here

launch day

Filed under events, launch, postcards project, progress, the map

it’s launch day… we’ll be revealing the map, display stands, postcards and more. just tweaking the visuals. maybe see you there?

Where’s the rest of Scarborough?

Filed under research & consultation, the map, what is...

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.

Gone, gone, gone

Filed under progress, the map

(Miles Davis tune reference, in case you were wondering…)

Another peek at the collage side of the map which is now at the printers. First poem by John W Clarke, second by Kate Evans – a reference to The Beatles playing at the seafront Futurist theatre. The letter/number combinations you can see are map references that correspond to the other side of the publication.

Sign off

Filed under progress, the map

It’s final proof day today, just gone through some minor changes to be made and then it’s sign-off tomorrow, then to the printers.

Above is a close-up of the proof showing a new level of detail with the building footprints after our surveying. no-one has mapped an area of Scarborough in this level of detail before, I imagine its pretty rare in general.

The colours are something we’d have loved to spend more time researching but have gone on our experience and some gut instinct. We think that having a suggestion of the building colours instinctively helps the map user figure out where they are on the map. We surveyed the town classifying buildings into a limited palette based on the building material or the frontage/signage if that was more dominant. The cultural landmarks are all magenta regardless to emphasise the cluster of cultural, heritage and arts venues and works in the town.

This pic also demonstrates the ephemeral nature of printed maps in that they’re out of date the minute they’re printed: The Premier Inn is 6 months off completion but will be a landmark when completed due to its corner/roundabout position and the prominence of the brand so we felt we had to label what is currently a building site.

What’s in a name?

Filed under research & consultation, the map

Some neighbourhoods have names that have their roots in the history of the area, for example ‘Ramshill’, which evolves from the area being sheep pasture (originally the larger area of ‘Rams Dale’).  Some evolve over time through colloquial use – the ‘Old Town’ surely developed in this way as people sought to describe different areas of the ever-growing Victorian Scarborough. Some names are invented by councils, developers or other groups, often with an aspirational edge.

One such area is that centred around The Crescent which hosts the municipal Art Gallery, Crescent Arts studios and Woodend Creative Workspace/Gallery and extending either side to include Westwood School of Arts, down past the Rotunda museum and probably taking in the Spa and the Futurist theatre/cinema. Add the SJT and you almost form a pleasing ‘S’ shape linking these key cultural landmarks.

When Scarborough’s Renaissance programme kicked off about 7 years ago this stretch was referred to as a potential ‘cultural quarter’ – a phrase that’s very much late 90′s / early noughties town planning speak but at least suggests the importance of culture to the renaissance of Scarborough.

So is the label still valid? The Crescent didn’t quite expand culturally as intended although Woodend is a renaissance success story. An idea for a sculpture trail through the gardens linking the main locations didn’t come to fruition. But there’s a definite arc from the top of town to the seafront that takes in at least 7 culturally significant venues.

[current council-produced town centre map - i've marked the cultural venues with a pink dot]

Some stakeholders in the CHART Scarborough project think the label shouldn’t be used. Our focus groups thought it should, even if it is still partly aspirational. One person suggested it might even prompt renewed focus on the area to finish the job.

Maps have long put names to places, often turning the vernacular into the ‘official’ in the process. Should ‘Cultural Quarter’ become an accepted name for this part of town?

Of cartographers and philosophers

Filed under design, progress, research & consultation, the map

We’ve been getting some feedback on the map from cartographers who draw a lot more maps than we do. Very useful it’s been too, highlighting some key aspects that have slipped past us as we’ve developed that design-blindness that sometimes happens on a long-running project. But something I’ve detected in the resulting discussion and from observing others is that are sometimes two distinct trains of thought about map-making.

One is that maps have developed their own visual language over the last few centuries and a map that follows in this tradition is the best a map can be. It’s tried an tested and refined and it asks that potential users learn how to understand and use such maps.

The other train of thought is that maps are fluid and that cognitive mapping theory, usually in relation to urban maps and particularly in the context of city centre wayfinding, is rewriting the rules. Maps can be far more intuitive that most currently are. This isn’t to deny that cartographer’s skills are just as valuable as before, but that a map can have a different theoretical starting point to which those skills are applied.

Under challenge from the former perspective and a wealth of cartographic experience it’s given me cause to stop and question some of the non-traditional decisions we’ve made, even going back to the theories and philosophies that underpin this project. So buckle those mental seatbelts, and whilst we make some design tweaks, my next post on here will be a whistle-stop ultra-condensed look at situationist theories and whether a map can change place. I bet you can hardly wait.

On route

Filed under progress, the map

I feel rather brave giving a glimpse of some work bang in the middle of experimenting and asking questions and where aesthetic considerations are on the back burner. But this is how the map (or a tiny part of it, at least) was looking and the end of last week – it’s changing considerably by the day at the moment as we hit problems, raise issues and change our minds about how to best display the information.

As you can see here, the colours, text, sizes, everything is all over the place. But I think it’s worth showing this to illustrate our priorities. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll see see some legible cities thinking happening here as we explore using thumbnail images of landmarks and what sort of perspective renders them most recognisable. You’ll also see priority given to pedestrian navigation as we work out exactly where every footpath starts, goes and ends, how wide it is, how suitable it is for those with limited mobility and whether it’s flat or on a gradient. That’s time-consuming work as there isn’t yet (to the best of our knowledge) a map of Scarborough that has this level of detail. How to effectively show gradients on a town centre map is proving to be one of the biggest challenges.  But we like a challenge.

By the way, the reflection in the computer monitor is one of Scarborough’s iconic landmarks – the Spa footbridge – currently covered in scaffolding whilst it is being renovated.