December 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Thinking & Practice Session 26/11/13 – 3/12/13

These two sessions were all about analysing different maps and looking at how each one uses visual language to communicate different things. We got into pairs and picked out three maps from a collection of scans provided for us and answered a series of questions on each one. The questions to think about were:

What do you think you are looking at on this map?

What is the audience or context for this information?

What cartographic language is used?

What is the topographical information represented?

What cultural artefacts are present that represent how people live their lives?

How could this be of historical importance?

How does this map abstract reality?

Can you describe the composition and contraction? (you may need to refer to the originals)

Legend – symbols – what communication systems are used?

Emphasis – What is included and what isn’t – level of detail?

What scale is used?

Can you comment on the direction of the map?

How is typography specifically used within the design?

What linear qualities are evident throughout?

What is the colour pallet and why may this have been used?

Maps are socially constructed. What does this map say?

Flumserberg, Switzerland


This map shows a ski resort in a mountain region situated in Switzerland. Shown on this map are ski lifts, which is represented by black lines. Red lines show ski routes, green lines show walking routes and yellow lines show roads. These are shown by a key shown on the right hand side. Warning signs are clearly mapped  and the altitude is indicated in small, black type. Ski lodges and campsites are shown, showing pictures of actual housing areas rather than keeping it as a landscape drawing – this gives the map further detail. The audience for this map is mostly likely tourists or sports enthusiasts hoping to visit the resort. There is a lot of signage used in this map, making it easy to communicate the ideals to the audience despite it being in a different language. The topographical information represented is a specific use of shading which shows the different incline of the mountains. White indicates safe areas. There are some cultural artefacts included in the map, weather being the main one and the different language used. The map will have some historical importance, in that over the time, the mountains will shift, and avalanches will occur, perhaps causing the various routes to become unsafe. It also shows where old buildings may have been. The actual image is quite accurate rather than showing a birds eye view. The large key at the side is a main feature of the map, as it is in a pamphlet/leaflet form it is quite important that this part is clearly visible. Despite the detail in certain parts of the map, (ie the housing areas) the lines that show ski lifts/roads etc are purely represented by lines, no other imagery is used. There is no scale included in this map, only the height of the mountains is indicated. It’s simple, easy to read, legible, a sans serif font (Helvetica) is used and bright, bold colours are used for lines perhaps to be eyecatching.

Kenya/Uganda/Tanganyika, Africa


This African map features in the back page of book from the 1930s. It shows the coast of Africa along the Indian Ocean, showing Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. The book is a road map book of East Africa, aimed at tourists, safaris, road makers and hunters. This map is clearly drawn and has a limited use of colour. Roads and railways on this map indicate that the area is more developed region of Africa. It has historical importance in that it shows where the roads used to be if they do not exist or have moved today. It will also show the difference in the size of towns back then compared to now. As it is a drawing, the lines have been used to show water along the coast (waves) and the composition  is in a scale to grid format, only showing the East Coast. The communication systems used are simplistic lines. Diagrams are used for railways, mountains, and roads. Place names are included, however altitude or sense of depth is not shown. The map is quite simple in terms of detail. The scale is 1:5,000,000 English miles. The direction of the map is facing north. Typographic language is quite strong – large handwritten type is used for regions and oceans/countires, whereas small handwritten type is used for place names and roads. There is also colour coded type included in the key. As the map is old and weather it appears as if it has an old paper brown texture that looks coffee stained.

Central Park, New York


On this map we are looking at North Manhattan in New York, in particular Central Park. The map is aimed at tourists who want to look at local independent companies and museums – possibly tour groups. The map is hand-drawn with colour being quite accurate. Detailed drawings of the museums and surrounding areas are used to draw the audiences attention to these monuments. Museums, apartments, actives in the park (i.e Bowling Green), and other local business such as corner shops/cafes. The museums will discuss historical artefacts – potentially based around New York and surrounding areas. The map is drawn and coloured in pencil so potentially is not as accurate as a digitally produced one. All the blocks are the same shape, although the drawings of the main buildings are highly detailed. Colour coding is used for the different attractions for example – food, accommodation, shopping, and transit. Colour coding also represents major roads and smaller roads/paths. Dollar signs are used to show how expensive a hotel and restaurant is, making this map stand out from the others – there is no indication of cost on the other maps. The whole of the park is drawn in complete detail – other than the animals in the zoo. The main attractions around and in the park are drawn in detail, but smaller buildings are just represented by the block that they’re situated on. Traffic isn’t included but shows which way some of the roads are. The scale used is 1/8th of a mile is equal to a 5 minute walk. The map appears to be in a northernly direction. Typography is used to label all the individual shops and businesses, with a larger font for the more significant places and roads. With New York being set out in a gridded format the streets are represented in this aesthetically pleasing way. The colour pallet used consists of green, blue, orange, yellow and red. Black is used for type and outline to stand out. The other colours are used to create a sense of realism within the map. This map says that there are many places to visit in and around the Central Park area of Manhattan that will interest and attract a large amount of tourists/visitors.


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