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.

A world map according to the Antarctic or Penguin projection, with the southpole in the middle and increasingly dramatic distortions towards the north

The Antarctic Projection: a Penguin’s World Map

A world map tells a lot about the person who has made it, or about the market it is made for. Here in Europe, we think it’s only logical to place the edge of the map in the Bering Strait and the Pacific. After all, there is almost nobody living there and besides: this way we put ourselves nicely in the middle. The Amero-centric world map People in North and South America, understandably, do not like to live on the edge of the map. That’s why one sometimes sees maps like below, with America in the middle. That the cut...

Downtown rotterdam between central station and the river and between Claes de Vrieselaan and Mariniersweg; fragment of a map of Rotterdam with all city blocks as glass in 15 different colors

The Glass Map of Rotterdam: a plan in fifteen colors

Wow! That must have been a hell of a job … Cutting all those pieces of colored glass, exactly the right size and shape. And then carefully arranging them on a steel plate to create a colorful map of Rotterdam. Digital glass No, fortunately these days we have software to simulate things like that digitally. This glass map of Rotterdam was made using an AutoCAD file of the city’s building blocks. In 3ds Max, I added some irregularity to make it look not too computerized. Then I, totally randomly, assigned to each block one of fifteen different colors of glass....

World map inspired by cubism, showing our planet as a complex system of shapes, colors and lines

A Cubist World Map

No, you better not try to find your hometown or even your country on this cubist world map. Borders, cities, walls and other human constructs are not recognizable in this explosion of colors, shapes and lines. Polygons and blending modes The map was made in Photoshop by overlaying quite a few layers. I made those layers using the filter crystallize, which subdivides an image into polygons in an entirely arbitrary way. I also made a layer of squares that coincide with latitudes and longitudes. After that I generated line drawings from the edges of all those shapes. Eventually I put...

The inverted world map where land and sea have been swapped; continents are oceans, islands are lakes and the other way around, in colors inspired by NASA's Blue Marble imagery

The Inverted World Map – Variations on a Blue Marble

It probably happens to everyone who likes to look at maps. You imagine land to be water and water to be land. Continents to be oceans and and oceans to be continents. Islands to be lakes and lakes to be islands. I could not resist the temptation to make a detailed map of such a topsy-turvy world. But I am not the first to do so. A little bit of googling yields a nice collection of inverted maps. Vladislav Gerasimov, for example, made a lovely styled fantasy map. And Chris Wajan on his Panetocopia website extensively discusses climate, vegetation and...

A room with world map Mars 2.0, showing the planet as it may look after terraforming, as decoration on the wall, while Mars rover Sojourner is driving around between the furniture

Mars 2.0 – Return to the Red, Green and Blue Planet

Liquid water has just been found on Mars. The movie The Martian (the perfect blend of Castaway and Apollo 13, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever) is in cinemas right now. And NASA has announced detailed plans to send people to Mars in twenty years. A good moment for me to take a look at the planet again as well. Mars Society Netherlands Mars and I have a long history together. In 1999 I founded, together with Arno Wielders (currently involved in Mars One) the Dutch chapter of the Mars Society in a café in Leiden. In the first...

Fragment of the the Double Streep Map Rotterdam 1939-2016, showing the position of the overhead railway on Binnenrotte in relation to pre-war and contemporary city blocks

The Overhead Railway on the Double Street Map of Rotterdam

About a year ago I created the Double Street Map of Rotterdam 1939-2014, which shows how the street pattern of my hometown has changed as a result of the 1940 bombardment and the subsequent reconstruction. That map did not go unnoticed: local newspaper AD/Rotterdams Dagblad wrote about it and I received a lot of reactions. The comments were actually all positive, except for on a small point of criticism: the Overhead Railway is missing! Parisian allure Indeed, the Overhead Railway … I’m old enough to remember: the railway viaduct on Binnenrotte, which gave an almost Parisian allure to the market...

Orbital image of a terraformed Mars with the Northern ocean and the North Pole, Valles Marineris, Kasei Vallis, Arabia Terra and the Tharsis highlands, against a background of stars

Modified Mars Revisited

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who asked my permission to use Modified Mars as a setting for a novel. Modified Mars is a project that I conceived eight years ago, and it’s about terraforming the world currently known as the Red Planet. Another Earth A brief explanation for those who rarely or never read science fiction: terraforming (literally earth formation) is the alteration of a planet in such a way that Earth organisms, including humans, can thrive there. Terraformers are especially interested in Mars for several reasons: the planet is not too big, not too...

Future plan of Oostplein in Rotterdam, including reconstruction of windmill De Noord and greening of the public space

The Return of the Windmill, part 2

Half a year ago I made an artist impression of windmill De Noord, reconstructed at the Oostplein in Rotterdam. That action remained not completely unnoticed; it’s time for an update. Together with Gyz la Riviere, whose film Rotterdam 2040 inspired me to create the visualization, I launched a campaign to raise awareness of the possibility of rebuilding the windmill. We had 2000 postcards printed, which we distributed in local bars, restaurants and other places: Polictics and media Also the mayor and aldermen, political parties and the media received a copy. The AD/Rotterdams Dagblad published an article which evoked enthusiastic responses...

Fragment of the double street map of Rotterdam which compares the streets, blocks and harbours of the city in 1939 and 2014

Rotterdam: a Tale of Two Cities

If you’ve been reading my blog (for example, take the article on the old Bijenkorf or windmill De Noord) you know that I’m really interested in the history and architecture of Rotterdam. And that’s not just because I live there. What fascinates me is that there are actually two different cities. These two cities share the same location, but are separated from each other by time. With one major breaking point: the day of the bombing, May 14, 1940. Of course, other cities have changed enormously as well since, say, the thirties. But nowhere the changes have been as dramatic...