City Railway System Project

Thanks to a colleague, I knew about Zero Per Zero’s City Railway System project. This project presents a redesign of existing Underground Diagrammatic Maps based on its own aesthetic rules and analytical design principles different from that of diagrammatic maps. Instead of being pure synthetic diagrams, Zero Per Zero (ZPZ) maps are projecting the identity of a city through its transport maps. In general, ZPZ maps retain the same visual structure than their official transport maps, but they based their aesthetic and visual language on iconic elements of the character of each city. As an example, following the well-known Milton Glaser’s design ‘I love New York’, ZPZ-New York map is inspired in that same concept, being visualised following a heart shape. Another difference from official versions is the addition of famous landmark and attraction icons, such as an Empire State Building icon in the NYC map, or a Gaudi’s Cathedral icon in the Barcelona map.

Left to right. Current official NYC underground map. Glaser's iconic logo. ZPZ's NYC map.

The ZPZ City Railway Map series includes several other pieces as a complement for the handy map. There are calendars, posters, pocket maps, mouse pads and tapes.

Image of the ZPZ London exhibition at Kemistry Gallery, May 2010 (©SP)

Although this project could be analysed, explored, examined or described following information design principles, I do think that, in this case, that kind of analysis would be pointless. These diagrammatic maps have been created with a different purpose than that of the official ones, being closer to be defined as artistic maps.

To see the whole map series, you can visit the ‘Zero Per Zero: Station’ exhibition at the Kemistry Gallery, here in London. Definitely, this exhibition is worth to be seen, as it is not often found exhibitions entirely devoted to Underground Diagrammatic Maps.

– Zero Per Zero: Station. Until 19th June. Free entrance. Maps and other design pieces of the series are available to buy.

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