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Always going in circles? New maps may help

Amazing map vision for London and New York.

Transit maps based on concentric circles could change the way we navigate around the world’s major cities



Transit maps based on concentric circles could change the way we navigate around the world's major cities (© Max Roberts)
  • Transit maps based on concentric circles could change the way we navigate around the world's major cities (© Max Roberts)
  • The London Underground is given a strikingly different look using the system (© Max Roberts)
  • Manhattan was the starting point for Roberts' map of New York (© Max Roberts)
  • Roberts calls mapping the New York Subway "the world's biggest design challenge (© Max Roberts)
  • By 2018, a completely new map will be required for London's transport network (© Max Roberts)
  • The designer has also mapped out disused railway lines south of the River Thames (© Max Roberts)
  • New York is a city that map designers can never ignore, mapping the Subway well is the world's biggest design challenge (© Max Roberts)
  • Circles Tube Map was really intended to be a cartographic joke: be careful what you want, in case you get it! (© Max Roberts)
Putting together public transport maps that are informative, thorough and accessible is no easy task, particularly given the dense maze of routes that make up most major cities in the world. Psychology lecturer and map-making enthusiast Max Roberts has produced a set of charts that tackle the problem using concentric rings, turning the underground networks of London and New York into geometric diagrams that give a whole new look to the locations.

Inspired by a design from Jonathan Fisher, Roberts first tackled the London Underground. He wanted to break free from the horizontal and vertical straight lines and 45-degree angles of the existing map to rethink the problem from scratch: the result was the Circles Tube Map, which uses spokes and tangents to chart the different Underground lines. “The design lost points for simplicity, but the payback was a massive gain in coherence,” says Roberts.

 

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