John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Sebastian Meier used vegetation and a laser cutter to show the city’s parks and ponds.
If you wanted to know the locations of Berlin’s many parks, you could Google them. Or if you’re Sebastian Meier, you could reach over to the wall and feel them, thanks to this nifty map made from verdant vegetation.
Meier, who works at the Interaction Design Lab at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, wanted a visualization more “physical” and “haptic” than the standard computer version, he writes at Vislab. So using info from OpenStreetMap, he laser-cut a map of the city and filled in the park areas with moss scrounged from the Berlin woods. Meier spritzed it regularly with water and voila. Over a month later, he had a still-living document of Berlin’s various forested hamlets.
He explains more about “Green Berlin” at Vislab:
Even though Berlin only ranked number 63 on a list of Germany’s greenest cities (Berliner Morgenpost), it still offers a lot of parks, forests, rivers, and lakes for its citizens to enjoy. This is one of the reasons why Berlin is a great city to live in, especially during summertime. Due to scale and technical limitations the physical map could not show every single park and pond in Berlin, but even our selection with a low granularity already paints quite a green picture.
For folks who want to create mossy cartography of their own burg, Meier has posted thorough instructions on GitHub. Here are a few closer looks: