WITH A TOTAL population of 56,000 spread across a landmass twice the size of all other Nordic countries combined, Greenland’s overall density hovers at just over zero. The precursors to Greenland’s modern-day inhabitants were settlers both indigenous and European, dating back millennia and including the Saqqaq, Independence I-II, and Dorset cultures, as well as the Greenlandic Vikings who settled in the far south in 982 (led by Erik the Red). All these prior cultures and settlements, however, disappeared, leaving only archaeological records.
Blue Crow Media, perhaps the foremost current publisher of city maps focused on modernist architecture, returns with the Berlin U-Bahn Architecture and Design Map. Like the previous entries in their series showcasing the architectural highlights of urban transit systems – London, New York, Paris, Moscow – the Berlin entry is attractively printed on thick, sturdy paper with a die-cut slipcase.
Also like the publisher’s previous offerings (including the Brutalist Berlin Map and the Pyongyang Architectural Map), the emphasis is less on wayfinding and more on presenting a minimalist and straightforward overview of the city’s architectural highlights. Rather than throwbacks to a purely analog era, where maps had to be followed street by meticulously detailed street, Blue Crow creates physical maps that are intended for the 21st century, in that they offer a clean, simple overlay of a city while leaving much of the work of navigation and transit connections to our ever-present smartphones. This stripped-down approach allows each map to focus on the essentials without getting bogged down in cartographic details that would likely be made redundant by modern technology.
HISTORY, WHETHER THROUGH its presence or its absence, informs the architecture of modern Japan to a much greater degree than it does in many other countries. One one hand, the country’s millennia-long political, religious, and artistic history permeates its architectural culture to a tremendous degree, serving as an endless wellspring of inspiration and guidance for successive generations of architects and designers. On the other, Japanese architecture since 1868 (the beginning of the Meiji era that defines “modern” Japan) and especially since WWII has countless examples of structures that eschew homegrown traditions in favor of European and global styles, with some architects pursuing a specifically futurist and ahistorical aesthetic. The unprecedented building boom of the postwar period saw Japan emerge as a relentlessly forward-looking and technology-oriented society, with emerging megacities expanding at a breakneck pace.
THE FIRST GUIDE of its kind, Chechnya and North Caucasus: An Architectural Guidebook explores the diverse architecture of one of the former Soviet Union’s least-explored regions. The seven independent republics and two Russian territories that make up the relatively small North Caucasus region represent an incredible array of languages, cultures, religions, and traditions, and offer a correspondingly broad range of architectural highlights, from modernism and brutalism to traditional and Islamic-inspired hybrids.
WE’VE COVERED BLUE Crow Media’s collection of Modernist Maps in the past, including an overview of the series and a look at their remarkable Pyongyang Architecture Map. Their newest addition, the Brutalist Berlin Map, joins London, Paris, Sydney, Boston and Washington in their sub-series on Brutalism, and serves as a fitting companion to 2016’s Modern Berlin Map. This newest map repeats some of the structures from its Modernist counterpart, which is to be expected given the implied Venn diagram that maps the ever-shifting overlap of Brutalism and Modernism: the Mäusebunker, Corbusierhaus, Akademie der Künste, the Czech Embassy, among others. Ultimately, while each map has more than enough unique entries to act as a standalone guide, the combination of the two offers even greater opportunities for exploration, as well as a perfect jumping-off point for further discussion.
BLUE CROW MEDIA IS a London-based publisher of maps, specializing in modernist and brutalist architecture worldwide. The maps are beautifully designed in a classic-modernist aesthetic, and take particular care in their choice of typefaces. The latter point is especially evident in the numerous bilingual maps, many of which use non-Latin scripts including Cyrillic, Georgian, and Hangul. In these maps, both languages get equal space in the layout, sending a clear message that they are intended for locals as well as tourists.
EVEN IN YEARS without worldwide pandemics, visiting Pyongyang is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for most of the world’s population. But it could be argued that the Pyongyang Architectural Map, the newest such guide from the UK’s Blue Crow Media, is the perfect map for 2020: with travel being such a fraught prospect for the foreseeable future, the role of travel literature (including physical maps) has shifted from supplementing actual journeys to partially or fully supplanting them.
Mount Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima, a small semi-tropical island located a short ferry ride from Hiroshima. The island is sparsely populated, and deer roam freely through the forests and streets at lower altitudes. The particular latitude of the island gives it a unique biome in which coniferous trees coexist with lush jungle plants and wildlife, including monkeys and poisonous snakes.