Mapping Berlin

Laura Harker rounds up some of the finest cartographical representations of the city…

Cartography is both a utilitarian and creative artform. Predominantly a way for us to understand the world, maps plot out a given in order to enable us to travel from A to B. Yet since the very first maps, they have incorporated a more subjective artistic vision.

One of the first world maps, created by Ptolemy, was redesigned in the fifteenth century using creative license to personify the wind, and the seventeenth-century European cartographers included deities in the periphery details.

To this day, designers and artists still enjoy conjuring up unique ways to represent geography. Given Berlin’s abundance of creative types—artists, illustrators, graphic designers, bonafide cartographers—it’s hardly a surprise there are many interesting and inspiring visual takes on the city’s landscape. Below are some of our favourites…

Mark Andrew Webber


Over the space of five months, Mark Andrew Weber painstakingly hand-carved his map of Berlin from one enormous sheet of lino. The graphic map has none of the usual icons, images, or legends; it’s entirely made up of typefaces, all copied from signs he spotted while he spent six months wandering the city. What makes the feat of hand-carving all the minute details onto the map even more amazing is Weber was diagnosed with chronic arthritis at the age of 12, something he believes his love of art has helped him overcome.

Future Mapping Company


The Future Mapping Company’s beautifully detailed map is composed out of silk-coated paper, metallic inks and a lithographic printing process. Blues and greens highlight the city’s natural beauty, with parks, woods, allotments and rivers are all plotted out alongside some of Berlin’s most famous buildings. The map also manages to capture Berlin’s love of bikes, as all the city’s cycle paths have been printed onto the streets.

Jenni Sparks


Jenni Sparks brings her hand-drawn map to life with cute illustrations and fun facts. Commissioned by Ever Made, the London-based illustrator and map-maker spent just one week wandering Berlin for research before plotting out the map.

Damien Hirst


Yep, the Turner Prize winning artist, well known for exhibiting dissected animals in formaldehyde, has also turned his attention to Berlin map-making. Part of a series of various cities, it of course isn’t any ordinary map – it’s made by arranging different surgical blades and needles on a black background to create a 3D effect. According to the artist, the aim of the piece is to address surveillance and “dissect… deep-rooted, society-wide anxieties over surveillance… [and] the digitization of warfare.”

Sohei Nishino


This gorgeous black and white printed diorama map of Berlin was created by Japanese artist Sohei Nishino. While walking around the city, he shot many famous sights and landmarks on film from every possible angle. Nishino built the maps up by arranging and pasting together selected photographs. The final artwork was then reshot to create the final diorama map.

Vesa Sammalisto


With a background in architecture and graphic design, Vesa Sammalisto is a multitalented illustrator noted for his characterful map drawings created for Google, Twitter, Cartoon Network, Penguin Books, Monocle, Wired and Qatar Airways, etc. His Berlin map features adorable characters and animals as well as important buildings and landmarks. You can buy it as a large map on the viction:ary website.

Tom Wooley


Tom Woolley’s cartography might be slightly basic from a geographical point of view but it has the basics mapped out for a perfect Berlin day: third wave coffee and brunch at Five Elephant, urban exploring at Teufelsberg and rooftop tipples up at Klunkerkranich.

Office for Metropolitan Geography

B2014-MitteWaterFinalThe man behind Kreuzberg’s Office for Metropolitan Geography, Berlin-based cartographer J. Simon, has opted to break the city down into its distinctive neighbourhoods – and represent them typographically. His collection to date spans six maps – Charlottenburg, Mitte, Schöneberg, Prenzlauer Berg and East and West Kreuzberg – that are hand-drawn and reflect years of wandering through the city. Each is screen-printed onto 300gsm bristol board in strictly limited editions of fifty, and each map is numbered and signed.



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