I’ve been itching to tell you about this for months, ever since Matt last put me up for the night at Hotel Webb and gave me a sneak preview. The other half of the ever-inspirational Schulze & Webb has published the results of his Bendy Maps research and the finished product is even more beautiful and game-changing than I ever imagined.

“Imagine a person standing at a street corner. The projection begins with a three-dimensional representation of the immediate environment. Close buildings are represented normally, and the viewer himself is shown in the third person, exactly where she stands.

As the model bends from sideways to top-down in a smooth join, more distant parts of the city are revealed in plan view. The projection connects the viewer’s local environment to remote destinations normally out of sight.”

A map projection that simultaneously places you in your current location and future destination, it offers all the potency of well understood mental wayfinding devices and imagery in one single drawing. The potential, as both a drawing technique for urban design proposals as well as real-time guide for travellers, is huge.

Those well understood devices of course include references to ancient, seminal texts such as Lynchian ideas of nodes, boundaries and paths etc., but in the title of the project itself – ‘Here & There’ – lies another connection to the world of mid-20th century urban design theory explored here in past entries: Gordon Cullen’s Townscape.

From our previous entry:

“Place…is concerned with our reactions to the position of our body in the environment. This is as simple as it appears to be. It means, for instance, that when you go into a room you utter to yourself the unspoken words ‘I am outside IT, I am entering IT, I am in the middle of IT’. At this level of conciousness we are dealing with a range of experience stemming from the major impacts of exposure and enclosure.

Arising out of this sense of identity or sympathy with the environment … we discover that no sooner do we postulate a HERE than automatically we must create a THERE, for you cannot have one without the other. Some of the greatest townscape effects are created by a skillful relationship between the two…”

Which you may remember was followed by a some other examples supported by the imagery in Chuck Jones’ Pepe Le Pew cartoons.

You can read more about bendy maps on the S&W blog and order your own copy on the official project page or read more about it in this month’s Wired UK. I’ll certainly be ordering a copy for my wall, but as beautiful as it is I still can’t help dreaming about a version rendered like a letratone covered Cullen sketch or Chuck Jones animation cell.