This Beautiful Book Is An Atlas Of The World’s Metro Systems

An architect recognizes and enhances the beauty in public transit map design.

One Metro World is a book of metro maps from around the world. Why might you need a book of maps from cities you may never visit? Or, if you do plan to visit them, why might you want the maps sequestered in a bound, hardback book?


Because they’re beautiful, that’s why. The maps, from Paris-based architect Jug Cerovic, are meant to be both functional and works of art. “A metro map has to be efficient and beautiful,” Cerovic says. “Efficient to enable you to can navigate a hidden and complex underground system. Beautiful so that you can understand the system and build a mental image of it.”


Cerovic’s maps use the familiar geometric convention of most modern transport systems, dating back to Harry Beck’s iconic London Tube Map in 1931. But unlike most official metro maps, Cerovic’s are free of clutter and subtly tweaked to make them easier to read.

The topology of the network is accurate, but the features of the landscape are simplified. Then, the central section of the maps are magnified and the edges shrunken. This makes the information in the central part–where most travel takes place, and most interconnections occur–easier to read. The simpler outlying sections get by just fine with a little less space. “This makes a compact drawing,” says Cerovic. “You can see the entire system at a glance on any device.” Yes, device. Part of the Kickstarter campaign is an app featuring the maps.

From Barcelona, Beijing, and Berlin to Washington, Xi’an, and Zagreb, via London, New York, Paris and Madrid, INAT’s metro maps cover 40 cities, took five years to make, and fill 160 pages of thick art paper. Each map has the network’s story and that of the city it lives in. Fifteen of the maps also have additional schematics, “highlighting network peculiarities as well as map design choices.”


One odd design choice is Cerovic’s treatment of Barcelona’s transit system. Pretty much every map of Barcelona skews the city around 45-degrees clockwise, putting the coastline at the bottom, and placing the city’s grid of streets on the horizontal and vertical. This is how locals orient themselves. Cerovic used to live there, too, so he knows his way around. “Actually the easiest way to orientate in Barcelona is to look up,” he says. “All the television antennas are pointing to the mountain, [and] when you know where the mountain is, you know that the sea is in the opposite direction.”

But to Cerovic, the Barcelona metro map makes more sense oriented on true North. “All my maps are set inside the same square layout, and laying Barcelona on a diagonal axis allowed me to make best use of the space.” he says. The result does look great, and if you find yourself confused, then you can always just turn the map 45-degrees.


But who will buy a book of maps that would be far more useful if they could be folded up and kept in a pants pocket? Cerovic likens his book to an atlas. “Just like with any other atlas, you can have a book full of maps for practical use but you can also explore unknown territories, discover new places, shapes, universes, travel with your mind,” he says. The texts in the book help the fantasy along, and if you’ve ever found yourself daydreaming while looking at maps, then you are probably the target market.

The book is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and can be had for $47 or more.

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About the author

Previously found writing at, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.