All images © Blue Crow Media
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.
Each map has a standard street-map side, with the featured structures highlighted in color, and photos, building names, architect info, and addresses on the back. While the overall aesthetic (and sizing, important for those who value attractive shelving options) is highly consistent, the naming system on the contrary enjoys a bit of intentional inconsistency, with titles tailored to the individual cities’ architectural histories. For example, some maps are “Modernist” (Berlin, Skopje), others are “Brutalist” (Sydney, Boston), and yet others are “Concrete” (Tokyo, Toronto, Seoul). Several larger cities have multiple maps with different themes, such as London, which has Art Deco London, Brutalist London, London Underground Architecture & Design, and even a botanical offering, Great Trees of London.
Eltham Palace, London
The actual street maps are extremely minimal, with most containing very few street names, landmarks, or transit stations. (There are some exceptions, such as Berlin, which contains numerous U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations.) The conscious decision to keep the maps minimal and use few words apart from the names of featured buildings anchors the project firmly in the 21st century, where they can easily be used in conjunction with smartphones, or at the very least, secondary city maps. The combination of the vividly colored footprints of buildings against sepia or gray backgrounds evokes a classic treasure-map feel, and serves as an effective prompt for urban exploration as a modern-day treasure hunt.
Below is a selection of Blue Crow’s architectural maps, along with some of their highlights:
1. MODERN BERLIN MAP
Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie: a modernist pagoda in the heart of Berlin
Highlights: Alexanderplatz and environs (including the Fernsehturm and Kino International), the wild, top-heavy Bierpinsel (“Beer Brush”) in Steglitz, the Freue Universität’s battleship-like “Mäusebunker”, the ICC, the Bauhaus-Archiv, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and the “realest” remaining section of the Berlin Wall on Bernauer Straße.
2. BRUTALIST LONDON MAP
The National Theatre, finished in 1977.
Highlights: National Theatre (above), Brutalist icons the Barbican and Balfron Tower, the sliced-looking raw concrete of the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery, and housing estates including Lambeth Towers, World’s End, and Cotton Gardens Estate.
3. TBILISI ARCHITECTURE MAP
Highlights: The gothic-arched Transcaucasia Hydroelectric Station, the primitive Palace of Rituals, the spiral-structured Lower Funicular Station, and the Former Georgia Ministry of Transport, one of the most wildly sculptural office buildings ever created.
4. MODERNIST SKOPJE MAP
Hydrometeorological Service Building, Skopje
Highlights: The multi-tiered Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the bunker-like Hydrometeorological Service Building (above), the hulking Macedonian Radio and Television Building, and the lighter midcentury modernism of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
5. MODERNIST SAN FRANCISCO MAP
Highlights: The ubiquitous Transamerica Pyramid, the bunker-on-a-hill beauty of the San Francisco Art Institute, the skate-ramp vaults of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and the funky Embarcadero Center. Also includes select buildings in Berkeley and Oakland, such as the Former UCB Art Museum (now sadly closed) and the Oakland Museum of California.
6. PYONGYANG ARCHITECTURE MAP
The Pyongyang Architecture Map covers the full spread of what’s on offer in the insular socialist fantasia, from otherworldly geometric structures to pastel-hued pools to gargantuan socialist monuments. (See our earlier feature on this map here.)
The Architectural Map Series is available from Blue Crow Media.