There are all kinds of great maps; historical and landform maps are some of my favorites. Some maps give us lots of spatial information, such as a tourist map of a city, while other maps focus on one type of information, such as bike or transit maps. Maps are of great interest to urban designers. And, the act of mapping is as important to the design process as drawing sections or creating beautiful renderings. Map-making for the purpose of design is an active process between you, as the choreographer of the map, and the information you are gathering from your site. This is a subjective, political and personal narrative that you are creating with a base “map” as your canvas. It is you (and your team) that ultimately decides what to include and not include on your maps.
The act of mapping extrudes the information that is most relevant and significant to your site and represents its spatial significance in relation to something else. This something else can be a different scale (that of a region or of a particular building), another piece of data (such as the relationship between lack of open space and high obesity rates in an neighborhood), or various places or landmarks on your site (such as the relative distances between transit nodes and housing within a neighborhood). Active mapping should demonstrate a clear “cause and effect”. Maps for urban design do not need to show us everything about a site but rather communicate meaning about the site, the “aha” moments, and revelations that reveal hidden hypothesis. They should imply directionality towards various design scenarios.
The following images are examples of maps that show a clear choreographed process and good editing by designers working at various sites. They range in scales and types of content but all demonstrate the value of maps in telling important stories about our sites, stories that cannot be discovered with data alone. Additional links are included for more map examples.
http://infosthetics.com/ (a blog of examples of data visualization)
http://www.spatialinformationdesignlab.org/projects.php?id=16 (The million dollar block)
http://www.msaudcolumbia.org/summer/?page_id=4 (Summer Studio map resource page)
“Petrochemical America” by Kate Orff (Spring Studio Professor) and Richard Misrach. Ben Abelman, Summer faculty worked on this publication as well!
“Envisioning Information” and “Visual Explanation” by Edward Tufte
Figure 1.0. Credit: WE Design and Health X Design: Map showing the relationship between access to current and potential disaster relief centers and the “quality” of the streetscape in Freeport, Long Island, measured in number of trees.
Figure 2.0. Credit: WE Design and Health x Design: Map showing the relationship between perceived numbers of people and bike presence related to income levels along a underutilized commercial corridor in Freeport, Long Island
Figure 3.0. Credit: Warner Kuntz and Denise Hoffman Brandt: Emerging Ecologies to an increasingly urban world
Figure 4.0. Credit: James Khamsi FIRM a.d 20th St Access: This is a map of accessibility to green spaces in Chelsea that was part of a project we did for the Friends of the 20th St Park.
Figure 5.0. Credit: James Khamsi. Huburbs-0: This is a comparison of density and transit ridership patterns in different North American cities
Figure 6.0. Credit: James Khamsi and Kathleen Cayetano, Huburbs. Huburbs-2: This is a comparison of 4 modes of transportation that cross Toronto: highway, the proposed Eglington LRT, the Bloo-Danforth TTC Subway line and the Queens Street TTC Street Car. They are made in space and then mapped in time relative to their speeds.
Figure 7.0. Credit: WE Design. Temporal map of NYC urban habitat
Figure 8, 9: Credit: Unknown: Various examples for how to show distribution, relationships, activities and locations.
Figure 10: Credit: Unknown: Africa without its margins
Figure 11: Credit: http://southernspaces.org: From “Petrochemical America” by Kate Orff and Richard Misrach