It’s my second post in Tube Month. Last week I looked at tube map covers, this time I am looking inside, at the tube maps themselves. The current tube map (above) is based upon the 1931 design by Harry Beck. It is a topological map, meaning that the map shows how lines link the underground stations, but don’t accurately reflect distances and directions.
I’ll start with a simple change; Mark Noad‘s map for london-tubemap.com places the stations closer to their geographical location and uses angles of 30 and 60 rather than the standard 45. What results seems more tidy, although arguably tube users don’t need to know the direction they are heading as they are not the ones navigating, not should they be concerned with distance if it dosen’t expend them energy.
Next up is Max Roberts‘ circular map. The circular design is often used on European subway systems. It too is less cluttered, but central London has become a lot smaller. Incidentally the circle line has formed what looks like the iconic roundel logo!
Francisco Dans has created my favourite alternative with swirling lines. I don’t know how easy it would be to find your destination on this map but it looks the most elegant. I like the contrasted underground logo as an apology for the lack of orthogonality, but it highlights why it was important for Dans to remove the corners in the first place.
Finally Bruno Imbrizi have created a 3D map, which not only allows you to view excatly how the network is laid out but also shows moving vehicles at their actual location and a prediction for up to 30 minuets in advance. The studio also has a number of other fun experiments on their site.
Finally, here is an elephant and a whale drawn purely using tube lines and stations from a standard map. Find more at animalsontheunderground.com