Concentric circle maps: simplicity versus coherence

A talk and live webinar by Maxwell Roberts, University of Essex

6.30pm Wednesday 6th November at Gensler

2013 11 1000px

"Simplicity versus Coherence: What concentric circles maps tell us about usability and aesthetics of schematic map design”

With the completion of London’s new orbital railway in 2012, schematic maps based on circles to emphasise the new connectivity started to emerge. Less than impressed by these attempts, Max produced a new version of the capital's rail network based on concentric circles and spokes. Intending this as a light-hearted exploration of novel design techniques, the last thing he expected was for the internet to go haywire!

After exploring several more cities, a most unlikely candidate for this treatment - the New York Subway - generated even more excitement and debate. The reaction to these maps made Max think again about the importance of simplicity (the trajectories of individual lines) and coherence (the holistic organisation of the lines). Concentric circles score poorly for simplicity, and distort geography, but force transport networks into unprecedented levels of organisation. A good geographical map shows where the network is, but a good schematic shows how the elements of a network relate to each other.

In his talk, Max will show his designs (14 at the time of writing), explore the debate that they generate, and discuss why they are interesting and their implications.

Max Roberts is a lecturer in psychology at the University of Essex. His research interests include human reasoning and intelligence, as well as schematic map design and usability. He is an enthusiastic member of the Society and has spoken to us before about his work on transit maps and especially the London Tube diagram. The Society is please to sell on line his recent book 'Underground Maps Unravelled', which will also be available on the evening.


Gensler, Aldgate House, 33 Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1AH

Attending this event

Members are admitted free - to view our membership plans, click here

If you are already a member please log-in to reserve your free ticket. This helps us with attendance numbers for the event.

Non-members can purchase a ticket to attend this event, costing £20 per place, by clicking the 'Add to cart' button below.



Member tweets

Who's Online

We have 206 guests and no members online

Contact Us

  • Sign Design Society,
    Flat 60,
    The Eye,
    Barrier Road,
    Chatham, Kent,
    ME4 4SD.
  • +44 (0)203 488 0774
Copyright © The Sign Design Society 2015