Category: Cartography

A map can evoke a world on a piece of paper, or on a few million pixels. Big or small, real or fiction. A world that once was but no longer is. Or a world that does not exist yet but that could one day bethere.

I always liked browsing through atlases, studying street plans and dreaming away over maps. And I practice the noble craft of cartography myself. From the history of Rotterdam to the future of Mars: I map it.

Close-up of a large number of bottle caps of Belgian and Dutch beers on a white wooden floor, together making a world map

Bottle Caps on a Wooden Floor: the Beer World Map

Since I wrote an article about beer photography on this blog last year, I own a colorful collection of bottle caps. Its numbers are growing because my friends keep collecting caps for me and I also like to open the occasional bottle myself. I had the idea for some time to make a world map of all those beer caps. And the partial lockdown we’ve had in the Netherlands for a few weeks now was a good reason to implement that plan. As a kind of moral support for the Dutch bars and restaurants. Not that it really helps them,...

Detail of a world map made of facemasks, carelessly thrown away on the pavement, showing the distinct shape of North America

Toilet Paper and Facemasks, Icons of the Pandemic

In March of this year, in the week we discovered that the corona pandemic would not pass the Netherlands completely unnoticed, I saw someone walking with three mega packs of toilet paper. And moments later another person with the same commodities. And another one. It was a trend. And although there was still plenty of toilet paper in warehouses, the shelves in the supermarkets were mostly empty for a while. I’ve heard many explanations for that sudden toilet paper hoarding. Maybe it was because people ran out of their supplies faster because they worked from home. Perhaps a shortage of...

World map of a tiny section of a hypothetical Flat Earth, with the known oceans and continents in the center surrounded by various other land masses and bodies of water

The Flat Earth

One of the most bizarre conspiracy theories has to be that of the Flat Earth. There is even a society with hundreds of members who gather at conventions to discuss the “evidence” that NASA and other agencies, with malicious intentions or out of ignorance, maintain the idea that our planet is a sphere orbiting the Sun. But the mere fact that it is not day or night everywhere at the same time suggests that the Earth is not flat. When the sun is shining in Europe, it should be visible from New Zealand as well, on a flat Earth. Even...

A "post-completion drawing" of the Basic Plan for the Reconstruction of Rotterdam bij Cornelis van Traa from 1946, with the city as it has been built in the 80 years after the 1940 bombing

The Reconstruction of Rotterdam Revised

This year we commemorate that eighty years ago the reconstruction of Rotterdam started. On May 14, 1940, much of the city was destroyed by the German bombardment and subsequent fire. Just four days later, on May 18, city architect W.G. Witteveen was commissioned to make a plan for the rebuilding. The ultimate Basic Plan for Reconstruction, drawn by Witteveen’s successor Cornelis van Traa, was not aproved by the city council until 1946. As I searched through my Rotterdam archive, I came across a thirty-year-old brochure, published in 1990 to celebrate fifty years of reconstruction. On its front page is a...

Australia reforested, a detail of the Forest World Map, made of 15.000 digital trees, surrounded by virtual grassy meadows, with also New Zealand and a part of Indonesia

A Virtual Forest and One Trillion Real Trees

The World Map of Trees, shown below, is made of more than 15,000 trees that together form the continents of our planet, while the surrounding grassy meadows represent the oceans. A piece of land art on an area of approximately 200 hectares, accessed by roads and paths (the equator and some meridians) and with ditches representing tropics and polar circles. All this of course entirely digital and virtual, because unfortunately I have no backyard of this size. Apart from the fact that this forest map is a nice addition to my collection of world maps (see, for example, the stained...

close-up of a digitally created stained glass world map, featuring Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranan and the North Atlantic

A Stained Glass World Map

I have already made quite a few special world maps, but never a version in stained glass. Our planet played a part in the virtual stained glass window that I made of the famous Earthrise photo, but that is not the same. So it was about time to fill this gap in my collection. And here’s the result! Virtual glass The map is made of 1440 pieces of colored glass. Virtual glass, of course, because this artwork was made entirely with the help of Photoshop and a tiny bit of Autocad. Despite the abstraction, the elements that make our world...

The Drowned Earth: a world map as it looks after the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have melted, around 4000 AD

The Drowned Earth: 4000 AD, After The Thaw

What would the world map look like if all the polar ice would melt? And how long does it take to get there? These are interesting questions now that climate change is – finally – on the political agenda. And as a cartographer, I could not resist the temptation to visualize the worst case scenario. Gravity When the Greenland ice sheet melts, the sea level rises 7 meters, when the ice melts in Antarctica it causes a rise of 58 meters. So together that makes 65 meters. But that is an average. Because something else plays a role: gravity. Such...

The digital scrapwood map of Europe, made of 54 different pieces of virtually recycled wood

A map of Europa made of scrapwood

Well in time for the European elections, it’s finished: the map of Europe in digital scrap wood. The third in a series; previously I made a scrap wood map of the Netherlands and the world. 54 countries Making this map was a bit more difficult than the previous two. Instead of 12 provinces or seven continents, we are dealing with 54 different countries big and small here. And for each of them I have searched for a separate piece of wood. Virtual wood, by the way, let there be no misunderstanding about it. Geopolitics When making a map of Europe,...

world map made of scrapwood, old planks, plywood and othe recycled material

The Scrapwood World Map

The scrapwood map the the provinces of the Netherlands was the most popular item in my Dutch webshop in 2018. That does not mean that the map is decorating walls in hundreds of living rooms, but it is still a modest success for this piece of virtual recycling. The World After this achievement, I just had to make a world map in scrapwood as well and here it is… Just like the map of the Netherlands it was rendered in 3ds Max using digital scaffolding, plywood, planks, slats, floorboards and rusty nails. The colors and textures were chosen quite randomly....

A world map like a dolphin would make it: a network of oceans en seas with some terra incognita in between

A Dolphin’s World Map

Once again I have tried to imagine the point of view of one of the other species we humans share this planet with. After the penguins and the moles this time it’s the turn of the dolphins. How does a dolphin mapmaker see the world? Sympathetic and intelligent Dolphins are known as friendly animals. Are they really as sympathetic as they look or are we somewhat misled because their mouths are permanently in the smiley position? I would not dare to make any firm statements about that. Dolphins are also known as intelligent beings. But how intelligent are they exactly?...