Inspired by Harry Beck’s iconic tube map, graphic designer Helen Ilus has created a new version that connects the dots between London’s parks and natural sites.
Like red buses and black cabs, Harry Beck’s tube map is an icon of London. But while it helps millions of people navigate the subway each year (in normal times), it is mostly useless for those traveling above ground.
Enter Helen Ilus, a graphic designer who dragged the map above the ground and redesigned it to help walkers and cyclists travel through London amidst greenery.
Instead of metro stations, Greenground Map connects the urban oases of the city: from forests and cemeteries to parks and waterways. Although exact routes are not provided, the map offers distances, an attempt by Ilus to encourage more people to approach the city on foot.
“I want to reach people who perceive cities through transport maps and bring them out later using similar images,” explained Ilus. “I believe that seeing parks and green spaces represented in this way brings people closer to nature.
“London has a great network of long distance walks and walks, but we also need a broader scope for ordinary everyday walks, and to see London as connected by green spaces and waterways, and with links to the countryside. Greenground Map aims to change this perception of how we see cities, when walking and biking long distances become common ways of moving. “
The successful campaign for London to be declared the world’s first national park city inspired Ilus to create his map and share it on Twitter, where it was warmly received by many Londoners. Later, Ilus had the map printed and had sold more than 500 copies when Positive News went to press.
The map was inspired by the campaign to have London declared a national park city. Image: Greenground Map
“When I started to make the map, I was thinking mainly of people like me, who want to make their trips more ecological or go out into nature on weekends,” said Ilus. However, with the pandemic generating more interest in active travel and green spaces, Ilus believes his map has become relevant to more people. “The past year has shown us that green spaces are essential,” he said.
London has more than 3,000 parks and green spaces, and although Ilus’s map covers only 380 of them, it has plans to expand it. “This is an ongoing project,” he said. “I hope it is a good starting point to discover new urban green spaces.”
Main Image: Greenground Map