In the news this week – an interesting new geographically accurate tube map. The standard map and the new map are inspired by the work of Harry Beck who’s simplified geometric map revolutionised underground maps. Londonist have an astoundingly varied and comprehensive guide to alternative tube maps with some really interesting images from maps of the underground drawn by memory to a live train movements map. Here’s what the designers of the new geographic map have to say about the concept, which I have to say looks pretty good, if slightly less easy to read than the familiar standard map.
A new angle on the London Underground – Creating a tube map for the 21st century
We welcome your views and ideas about this map and your experiences of using the London Underground system. You can contribute via our website which has links to the blog, twitter and facebook. Our aim is to create a dynamic map that responds to the needs of the user, makes best use of technology, and reflects the way we live our lives in the 21st Century.
The original London Underground diagram, designed by Harry Beck is one of the greatest designs of the twentieth century. He rationalised and clarified a complex system to produce a simple, easy to follow piece of information graphics. The principles he established for the diagram are still in use today.
However, in 1931 when it was first used, there were only seven lines so the compromises Beck made on geographical accuracy did not matter greatly. Today, with the constant development of the diagram now accommodating twice as many lines, these inaccuracies are more of a problem. Indeed, they form the basis for a major criticism of the diagram, that it bears little or no relation to London at street level.
This is particularly the case with newer lines especially London Overground which has been shoe-horned in leaving stations nowhere near their neighbours, for example: Watford and Watford Junction; Archway and Upper Holloway; Seven Sisters and South Tottenham; South Acton and Chiswick Park.
The map illustrated here is an attempt to see if it is possible to create a geographically-accurate representation of the underground system while still retaining some of the clarity of Beck’s original diagram. It uses similar principles, fixed line angles – in this case 30 and 60 degrees instead of 45 – and shortens the extremities of the lines to make it more compact.
Making the position of the stations the most important element of the design means there is less space for the station names. To allow for this, a new condensed typeface has been created – New Underground Condensed – which is based on Edward Johnston’s original font.
This map will help visitors to London navigate the city more efficiently. It will make it easier to decide which route to take including whether it is quicker to walk between stations. As the project develops, we will add more information to help users of the underground system which will be accessible on-line, in print, and via the app.