Unofficial Map: “Orbital” London Underground Map by Jonny Fisher

Here’s an interesting new look at the London Underground from architect/designer/writer Jonny Fisher. It’s always fun when someone reinterprets something as well known as this: every designer approaches the same problem differently. For me, this map isn’t wholly successful, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.

Have we been there? Yes.

What we like: A bold attempt at a redesign of possibly the most well-known transit map of all. The “orbital” theme actually makes a lot of sense: London already has a Circle Line, and the Overground does form a looser larger circle around that. As a map designer myself, I can certainly appreciate the skill and effort that’s gone into making this look as coherent and attractive as it does.

What we don’t like: Station labels set in all lower case text… ugh!

Inclusion of far-distant Thameslink stations like Brighton, Peterborough and Kings Lynn (97 miles from London and — from my understanding — no certainty to be a part of the final Thameslink Programme) is faintly ridiculous and leads to some awful crowding of station names in the north eastern quadrant of the map. Inclusion of the Tramlink services in southern London may have been more warranted, and would have helped with the “orbital” theme of the map.

Lack of differentiation betwen the different types of service shown, even in the legend, which opts for a pretty “rainbow”  of route lines instead. The colours may be in order, but the types of services are all mixed up. As the Underground operates at far greater frequencies that the mainline and rail services, this is an important distinction to make.

Some of the bigger interchange stations are now inordinately large: it looks as if you have to traverse across large parts of London to change from the Circle Line to the Victoria Line at Kings Cross/St. Pancras, for example.

I miss the Thames.

Our rating: Interesting new look at something familiar, if flawed. Two-and-a-half stars.

2.5 Stars

(Source: via Londonist)