When most of us picture our commute into work, we see the back of another car, or perhaps recall the sordid scents of the subway. But when Craig Taylor, Data Visualization Design Manager at Ito World, pictures a commute, he sees something vastly different. He sees ocean corals in all colors of the rainbow.
His project, Coral Cities, maps out how far you can travel by car from the city center in just 30 minutes, ignoring traffic. In a beautiful series of animated visualizations, Taylor renders the complex network of streets in 40 cities across the globe as if they were living, breathing coral–a far more lovely depiction than infrastructure normally receives.
It’s half art, half science. The webs represent the major arteries in each city, and they’re shaped largely in response to geographical features, like water and mountains. That’s why Paris’s roads bloom outward like an unfettered blossom, while Barcelona is lopsided, stunted against the sea. The rainbow hues you see don’t mean anything at all–the colors are purely aesthetic, playing up the diversity and complexity of the grids.
“It’s also fascinating how the density of networks varies from one city to another,” Taylor points out. “Some are more grid-like, such as New York City and Beijing, while some exhibit a more random pattern.”
Despite all of these nuanced details within the maps, they ignore population density and road congestion, meaning you’re looking at commute distances more than commute times–a map of the latter would probably result in very different shapes and forms. Even still, they’re a beautiful bit of work to behold. The ever-evolving project has taken Taylor six months to complete, and if you’d like a small piece of it, he hopes to put prints on sale soon.