The London Tube Map Gets A Makeover

Here’s a delightful thing.

Max Roberts is a bit of an expert on the London Underground, and he’s concerned that the current map, which looks like this…

…and is getting cluttered with new stations and extensions and whatnot. So he set himself the challenge of putting together a couple of suggestions to make the map easier to read.

The first was to make it less grid-like and more curvy, as a fun way of making Londoners look at this iconic image through fresh eyes.

(click on images to go to bigger versions)

At the same time, another designer called Jonathan Fisher had worked up an idea using concentric circles:

So Max decided try something similar. In a blog post written for the Going Underground blog, he explains that he also wanted to integrate the most recent changes to the network, which gave him an idea:

“With the new orbital loop surrounding Central London, some people are suggesting a mapping approach based on circles to emphasize this feature. There is nothing new here, and Berlin, Paris, Moscow and Madrid have all received this treatment in the past. Grounding a map in familiar shapes such as circles can make it easy to comprehend. However, it is also possible to push a design priority too far. As the old saying goes, be careful of what you might desire, in case you get it.”

Max refers to the results (which, oddly, contain a distinct outline of the London Underground logo in the center) as being “quite attractive in a distinctly weird way. Although parts of the map suffer horribly, it is surprising just how much of London is resilient enough to withstand the attack.”

And having made this rather pretty thing, he concludes: “No great advances in usability here, but it was fun to make it.”
Ah well, back to the drawing board.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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