Map Making

Mapmaking is a basic human instinct. It is how we make sense of the world around us, and has become a hugely important record in our written history. Cartography has been known to date back approximately 8000 years, before we even learnt to write and has continued to be a valuable resource.

Mapping was a prominent part of our initial context studies in architecture school. It was a process which could be displayed in both 2D and 3D forms and exercised in a range of media. Maps are incredibly useful for data visualisation which can be used for personal benefit or as a tool to communicate a sense of the area with others. These outcomes can be incredibly important and could reveal patterns you may not have noticed initially. The maps we produce today within the creative field are often conceptual, being used for installation and explanation. When thinking of producing a map there are some things you could consider:

  • Edit out what you don’t feel important or relevant
  • Think of a specific objective
  • Do you want to show complex social structures?
  • Direction
  • Symbolism
  • Micro-climates
  • Sun-paths
  • Circulation
  • Transport
  • What are you recording?
  • What Qualitative and Quantitative data do you want to show?
  • Is it a diagrammatic map?
  • Are you focusing on mapping: particular buildings, roads, landscape, materials, textures or vegetation?

After deciding on the correct approach for your map it is a good idea to make sure you have the relevant information to accompany it or if you feel the image is enough to communicate your ideas.

  • Title
  • Orientation
  • Date
  • Author
  • Legend
  • Scale
  • Index
  • Grid

The map In the reference image is a figure-ground study drawing for Vitra Firestation by Zaha Hadid.

Quantitative – Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality.
Qualitative – Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity.
Cartography – The science or practice of drawing maps.