Denis Wood

Denis Wood is a cartographer who had been working on the atlas of the Boylan Heights, North Carolina since the mid 1970’s. The portions of completed atlas have never been published in their entirety, but it is known as Dancing and Singing: A Narrative Atlas of Boylan Heights.

However this atlas is not merely a display of geography but contains many differing unique examples of creative maps attuned to their surrounding area. They show maps of night, crime, fences, graffiti, textures, autumn leave, the underground and stars etc. They are diverse creations that take influence from anything and everything and were first created by Wood to try and encourage students to focus on location specifics and not the geography as a whole. The atlas of Boylan Heights takes all the aspects that make up the designers neighbourhood and illustrates them on separate maps. The reason that the maps are black and white copies is due to the fact that the atlas was intended to be given out freely to the residents of Boylan heights to help show them what built up their town. So the production costs had to be kept to a minimum. Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 20.23.29

The pumpkin map illustrates the houses in the neighbourhood that saw fit to display a pumpkin on their front porch. Their composition relies on the layout of the street and they are shown as individuals through the many differing horror faces that the residents carved into them. This is a much more indicative approach of the street and works in this format more so than if the pumpkins had been represented using the same symbol or ‘scary face’.

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The composition regarding the star map of Boylan heights is really interesting to me and is attractive through the use of framing. Tree’s and houses are silhouetted around the edges of the star map with a portioned piece of sky being located in the middle. Texture is a huge part of the piece, with the borders being stark black and the night sky itself being very tactile indeed.

‘What we were trying to do was a kind of fish-eye view, splashing up out of the neighborhood into the night sky. Using an atlas of star positions we improved our plotting of the night sky. This was not easy either because the projection we were making and the projection the star atlas used were very different. We pulled the rest of the stars from Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius both because they are so beautiful and because I liked the way Galileo integrated text and image. Crawford did the drawing, laid out the spread, and did the photomechanical work.’ – Denis Wood.

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I think the map that gives the most indicative representation of Boylan Heights in terms of Wayfinding is the Sign Map which composes every sign within the neighbourhood onto the canvas, displayed in a similar way as to how they would appear in the real world. The background is white, bringing all of the signs into focus more easily and the main street’s and roadways are instantly recognizable for the thicker mass of symbols that can be found there. The use of a blank background that has no streets displayed or underlying information gives a much more cleaner representation. Any other information would have been unnecessary as the impression of the place is easily conveyed as it is.


The Map Shop

The Map Shop, 15 High St, Upton Upon Severn, Worcester, WR8 0HJ


Tony Atkinson has been passionate about maps since the age of six; currently he is semi-retired and runs a highly successful business in Upton-Upon-Severn known as The Map Shop. As expected the shop deals mainly in OS maps, yet on my visit and meeting with Tony, I was shown a variety of different organizations that map international regions as well as location specifics such as Scotland that don’t display marked footpaths, as free roaming and right of way is assumed for the full country outside of hunting season. I also met with John Baker whilst visiting Upton, who has worked with Tony for over twelve years and mainly deals in using large scale OS maps.

Large Scale OS Maps are highly detailed with information such as the shape of buildings being highly visible. These maps are rendered at 1:2500 and show both aerial views of the location and the standard map rendering, which differs slightly from the OS printed, typically 1:25000. These large-scale maps have more of a utilitarian use to them, and the map shop itself is approached by a variety of different clients up and down the country who use their service for plotting and planning permissions. Baker said that the majority of their clients tend to be Lawyers, Architects etc. and a repeat client known as Bayliss Design who work in renovating petrol stations. The Large Scale are linked directly to Google Earth, so street view can also be incorporated into the information to give the best impression possible of a given area. It is also an option to turn these very simple line drawings into basic 3D images by using the lines and information provided.

During our conversation Baker laughed at the prospect of the death of the printed map. Due to GPS systems being incorporated into mobile phone devices he said that the naivety of people makes them believe they no longer require a printed version. However aerial view, most commonly used by users to get an overall impression of a place doesn’t include all of the information required if making a trip out into the countryside. Location specifics such as rivers, streams and railway lines may be concealed, yet switching to standard view brings all of these into focus. He stated that this was the reason for the need of cartographers, although ‘everything may have already been found’, satellite photographs and pictures from space will always be in aerial view, thus naturally leaving those location specifics out. The satellites can’t see under trees, which would be a major flaw for hikers and ramblers.  In modern days a lot of the cartographers employed around the world are used mainly for updating the current maps with renovations to cities or main roads etc.

kendal-map-showing-footpathsOS Large Scale

it’s possible to scale the large scale maps to any size right down to 1:2500. I think they are a very clear and focused example of mapping and the changes in design from the printed map have been well thought out. The contour lines have been rendered in a different shade altogether so they don’t stand out too much yet the information is still clear and visible for those who require it. The main roads are clearly stated with the road numbers rendered in the same shade so it is absolutely clear which one they belong to. And as i mentioned earlier, the shapes of the buildings are brought into focus a lot more as there is the space to make this possible.


Institut Geographique National

1cm = 250m

Although the french maps are similar to English rendered ones in the sense that the key remains the same and the overall styling is very similar to promote ease of navigation through multiple countries, the visible differences that immediately jump out to me is the shading along the contour lines. In my opinion this highlights unnecessarily that the areas of green are mountains. Unnecessary due to the fact that contour lines are used anyway. Tony Atkinson, on showing me this French example, told me of a customer who approached him a few years ago who was looking into the possibility of having a map rendered which would be assembled purely out of contour lines in order to show his Duke Of Edinburgh expedition the importance of them. To an expert map reader everything bar the contour lines is irrelevant information.


Harvey Maps – Lakeland North


The colours used on the Harvey maps are garish in my opinion, subtler shades would be less offensive to the eye and so would result in making the map a more attractive piece of work. Traditionally contour lines are usually rendered in a much softer shade which results in not confusing the user but in this example the lines are almost as dark as the writing.


BMM – Yorkshire Dales

2.5cm = 1KM

I think this version of a mapping technique has been over complicated again by the many different shades and colours. Everything seems to have been crammed in together and as a piece of work designed to help you, at a glance it appears to be far too confusing.


Kompass – Brienzersee

1cm = 500m

The contrast of red footpaths and roads on the Swiss map really enable the routes to stand out in quite a striking way. the contour lines are visible though not in an overly offensive way and the text doesn’t have a single direction to run in, it’s crammed all over the design and has been fitted in wherever possible.

Emotional Cartography

Nold, C. (2009)

The bio mapping device created by Nold is a culmination of two technologies – a simplified version of a biometric sensor which monitors the changes in the users sweat and temperature levels directly on the skin (in a similar way to lie detectors used by the authorities), and the other technology is a global positioning system (more commonly abbreviated as GPS), which tracks these changes in the users emotional state in accordance with their position on the globe. Giving an accurate reading of stress levels in a specific environment. The combination of these technologies provide an intimate link with the users emotions and the satellites orbiting the Earth to provide an emotional map of the users subconscious.

Since the creation of this device Nold has been approached by a multitude of businessmen and women who are interested in his technology to help redesign their own workspace. Estate agents want a further insight into the geographical distribution of desire; car companies want to look at the levels of stress that drivers go through when behind the wheel; doctors want to look into their patients emotional state to redesign their medical offices for a more stress free environment; advertising agencies intend to reform entire cities resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing atmosphere and lastly, Nold was also approached by individuals who wanted the technology behind the bio map as a therapeutic device so that they can better monitor their daily anxiety levels.

The most important aspect of emotional cartography is to create a tangible vision of a city, town or even the countryside as a dense multiplicity of personal sensations.

Boyd Davis, S. (2009).

Since the evolution of modern day technology and the introduction of unique concepts regarding cartography, Boyd Davis says that the Death of the Map Maker is just as unlikely as that of any other author. Whilst the role of the respective map has altered from a purely geographical stand point, the technologies surrounding mapping has led to interactive systems being built which then leads on to a more engaging and user friendly form of design. Boyd Davis states ‘a well made map serves purpose precisely through selectivity’ which concerns the differences in accuracy between the graphical map and that of an aerial view.

Novice walkers, children and the public at large will always find a graphical interpretation more engaging than an actual image of the countryside or the city in question. For me these aerial view photographs appear much more out-dated than the slick counter parts that we as designers create. They are also more confusing to look at, especially when specifying upon a certain trail. Their accuracy completely debilitates the use of enlarging pathways to make the public footbath and roads more clear to the user or using a colour coded system which could help the user more easily navigate themselves in response to where they want to go. Interactivity = Prioritizing, leading to the irrelevant information being discarded easily so as to make the relevant data easier to stand out.,0,423

The San Francisco Emotion Map (2007)

With the use of this bio mapping technology stated above, 98 participants of varying ages and cultures were given an hour to walk through the streets of San Francisco whilst being monitored as to their heightened or lowered arousal regarding the area to create an emotive map of the city. This project was commissioned and funded by the non-profit organisation located in the mission district known as Southern Exposure.  This process mapped the emotional perceptions of the city in a non-direct approach to contrast the static aerial view maps.

These results were then overlain and projected using a simplified key; the areas noted in red state levels of high physiological arousal and descend in colour down to black to note the periods of calm the participants felt throughout the time period.  As expected there are more of these darker circles towards the edges of the mapped area with the high arousal points being located more towards the city centre. After the results were collated the participants were then asked to annotate their walks with either past memories or current thoughts on what they had just experienced.  When displayed in such a simplified way these trends and patterns become immediately obvious, however the cluster of dots around the southern exposure unit can be attributed to the participants unease at being wired up to the bio mapping device. When reading some of the comments one participant even stated that they hid the device on their person so as not to attract unwanted attention to themselves.

The map also shows that the majority of participants preferred to take the main roads as opposed to the backstreets of San Francisco as they naturally found themselves drawn towards these areas, noted by the higher percentage of routes following through this part of the city. Naturally these routes were more stimulating to the levels of stress which works in contrast to the routes on the outskirts of the city being much more calm and relaxing. Although this was exactly what I would have expected the map to read, I still find it interesting to note the areas of high stress amongst the calm. The addition of annotation here also works to engage me further into reading why their emotions spiked at certain intervals.

These emotional responses combined with the annotations also show a difference into the participants and how their minds work. Past memories and what they had already witnessed or taken a part of in San Francisco shaped half of the responses, whereas inspiring views, landmarks, and even green spaces shaped the others.

The colours for this project work well in complimenting each other as they are a very simple monochromatic palette with strikes of red to give impact and patches of green to represent parks in the simplest of senses. The key is easy to read and although the traditional map has completely been abolished from the background it’s still clear to see where the participants travelled. This information would have been useless anyway to somebody not familiar with the area and for those who are, then the street names, which are located down the side and away from the main composition, will work well in letting them orientate themselves. Instead the pathways have been plainly marked by the emotional response of the participants, they give a clear indication of the roads and streets towards the exterior of the map to become an insane jumble of mess towards the centre. Keeping the annotations from the centre of the map separate to the rest is a clean feature that helps to simplify the middle and not overcomplicate it. The use of magnification merely allows for a bigger use of text and a neater composition so the typography isn’t overly cramped within the space.

Christian Nold – Sensory Journeys

Christian Nold was one of the designers I briefly looked into for my research on Emotive Mapping. Looking at a further scope of his work I have found that he is one of the leading experts in the emotional cartography world, most notable for his project on bio mapping.

As with the emotive Stockton map, Nolds work on Bristol also illustrates the emotional responses the participants had on the surrounding area, although this is more tailored regarding their reactions and the correlation between the mode of transport they are using. This map is in response to the question – Do people have different sensory experiences and emotional relationships with their local area depending on their mode of travel?

The participants were children and were asked to carry GPS units around the town and press a button at five different points to describe their most important experiences which were then marked on the specially crafted greyscale printed map of the area. They were encouraged to make sketches and notes on top of these maps including stating which route they travelled on, these were then scanned and uploaded onto the website.

I find the initial look of the emotive map quite a confusing piece of work to look at, it isn’t something the user will initially understand without first reading the background concept however when you zoom in to a specific location, Nold recommends a school, you begin to see what the children think of the area through a series of smiley faces. On clicking these faces you get a sentence or two directly from the kids about the area that are in their most raw state. Some don’t make sense, some are very brief and hard to understand and others are just plain weird.

  1. –       I got killed hear not
  2. –       Save me people are torching me at school
  3. –       Don’t come here ever
  4. –       Prison
  5. –       Prison
  6. –       My Old School I Move up to be more grown up!

These are just a few of the notes regarding the location around the prison and Elmlea School. I think it’s interesting to see these interactions and how they change based on the forms of transport used. Flicking through the tabs it’s clear that very few children cycle to school with scooters being a fraction more common. As expected driving in and walking were almost tied with those variations of the map being exceedingly confusing with the drawings and sketches overlain on top of them.

‘Looking at the maps, there is clear difference between the modes of transport. The Walking Maps for both schools show a much larger number of interactions with people, plants and animals as well as sensory events such as weather, noises and smells. In comparison the Driving Maps show mainly buildings and sights. The experience of being driven to school appears to be like a teleport with a beginning and an end and little in between.’

These findings show that the act of walking, whilst being the healthiest and more environmentally friendly choice is also the most enriching as the children found the journeys much more interactive and interesting as opposed to those on the driving maps. These findings were then presented to the schools to discuss the sensory, emotional and social impact on the travelling choices made by the children and their parents on their daily commute.

Thematic Mapping

Thematic maps emphasize upon a certain theme or topic. They discard all the information available except that which is immediate and relevant, this being one of the main features why they differ from conventional mapping approaches. As a general rule they don’t include natural features such as rivers, cities or political boundaries unless these details are essential to the maps formation, for example for the user to orientate themselves to the data or to highlight certain aspects. An English astronomer called Edmund Halley created the first thematic map during the 17th Century. He produced a star chart that was a lot more accurate than the current examples at the time due to the advancement of the cartography era.

Considerations when creating thematic maps today are to keep the intended audience in mind so that the information included is as minimal and relevant as possible.



John Snow, 1854

For me one of the most notable approaches for thematic mapping was the work by John Snow in 1854. Through the use of this medical cartography technique, patterns regarding the cholera epidemic in relation to the water pumps in the local area were made clear leading to revolutionary breakthroughs in the medicinal world which helped saved the lives of thousands. Due to this breakthrough Snow is now considered one of the founding fathers of Epidemiology – the science of the study of patterns, causes and effects of healthy organisms and diseased in defined populations.

His research took route from his refusal to believe the theory that Cholera was a disease bred through airborne means. He argued that the bacteria in fact entered the body through the mouth and published his ideas in an essay ‘On The Mode Of Communication of Cholera’ in 1849. He proved his theory after careful investigation of where the diseased areas fell on the map. Snow was then able to identify a water pump in the area as a source of the disease. He had the handle removed and soon after the cases of cholera began to diminish

I think this is an amazing discovery that was found through such a unique and imaginative method.


Emotive Mapping

As an alternative to the conventional mapping techniques in response to a given area some designers opt to illustrate the territories as an Emotive Map or Emotisurvey. Whereas a traditional map is a very analytical and precise approach, usually done as part of a house style as with the OS Maps, this new styling presents the region as less of a clinical place, giving way to the real emotions of the locals about their hometowns and making it seem more real. It shows their opinions, desires and sometimes even their past experiences regarding the area, which brings life into the Emotive Map. I think these maps work really well as in both of the examples I looked at, the responses given by the local community were both taken forward to help improve upon the area in reply to what they stated. This leads to the communities being improved by the people in them as opposed to an uncaring response by the government.

Emotive Mapping

Emotive Maps – Malvern (Stevenson, 2012)

The Emotisurvey of the town of Malvern was undertaken by Andrew Stevenson back in 2012 and displays the information gathered on an Interactive Website, which is a clear and easily understandable approach. Important information regarding the age of the participants and more specifically their thoughts for any given point along the route is communicated in a simple iconographic way, eliminating the need for being bogged down by a statistical overload.

The wide range of participants were asked to go along the same trail and review all of the 12 specified points on the map with both visual and video responses that were then uploaded onto the website. This information was then reviewed by ‘Route to the Hills’ and the ‘Malvern Hills District Council’ to better improve upon the given area. Aspects such as the Wayfinding signage, public facilities and pathways along the streets were picked up on along with many other points. Switching through the user profiles displays an image of the route that has been colour coordinated depending on the users thoughts upon the given environment. For example, areas that they were particularly unhappy with would be displayed as red and parts where they couldn’t see any room for improvement are displayed as green. For this aspect I think displaying the information, as an interactive map, is the best possible solution.

The only issue I could find with the Emotisurvey was that regarding the videos. Some were far too long and others I found difficult to understand what the participants were saying due to background noise and the recordings being of poor quality. This is something I felt should have been addressed at the start of the project.


Emotive Maps – Stockport (Nold, 2007)

In contrast to the visual display of the Malvern Hills route, the map of Stockport I looked at differs completely in the layout. This was due to the static approach and the avoidance of iconographic imagery. The Stockport map may have been compiled together by one designer but the illustrations were taken from all of the 200 participants that were asked to review the location and sketch anything they felt was appropriate depending on their thoughts of the place. This resulted in the map being an imperfect representation, and alternatively being much more impressionistic. The map itself doesn’t even fit north facing, as you would expect of a traditional map. Instead it has the river Mersey running parallel through the centre of the page. This is due to the river being the biggest resource available to the town of Stockport giving identity and also acting as a county boundary. They’re the features that make Stockport a unique area and as such take centre stage.

Blank space has been filled with handwritten script from the many participants which may be difficult to read if the map was scaled down. I for one had trouble reading the writing on the screen despite zooming the relevant parts in. The file was so large that it lagged the computer down to a depressingly low speed and so I feel the typography has been compromised upon.

In addition, the residents were also asked to state whenever they became particularly attentive to their surroundings, whether for good or bad. These emotional responses were then traced out onto the map for the viewer to follow. I didn’t think this was a very clear concept to understand – emotional responses are indicated by a red cylindrical shape that changes size and colour depending on the scale of the emotions.

From this research Nold discovered that consumerism is among the biggest aspects of town life. When residents were asked to draw people most drew shoppers and when asked of the places they went too, most said they’d rather go to coffee shops over recreational parks. There was also a notable isolation of young people with not enough centres or activities provided for them to go to.

Stockport has since gone through a regeneration scheme known as Future Stockport showing that surveys such as Emotive Mapping can show a real need for improving upon the local community.