To graphic designer Peter Dovak, subway systems are more than a series of well engineered and functional architectural marvels, they’re also colorful networks that weave through the city bringing people to their intended destinations. That’s why he’s been creating minimalist illustrations out of public transit systems for the past three years in a collection called Mini Metro Maps.
So far, Dovak has created 220 maps of cities, large and small, from across the globe. The systems range from complex webs that look like jumbled up, multi-colored noodles, to systems that are as uncomplicated as a single line.
Dovak explains how the project began:
“Originally I was only going to do the U.S. and Canada, but in going through the systems of the world, it was very fun to see how wildly different some of the more complex systems could be, while many of the fledgling systems followed a somewhat identifiable pattern. Particularly in China, where metro systems have evolved quite quickly over the past 10 to 20 years, it is very interesting to watch them evolve. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai look like a tangled web now, but it wasn’t long ago they looked identical to the one- or two-line systems such as Hefei and Nanchang. It will be very interesting to see how they continue to grow.”
Each of Dovak’s maps reflect the original source maps, but with a few tweaks. In order to standardize his versions of the transit maps, angles are kept at 45 degrees, parallel route lines would sometimes be combined, and a minimum distance between lines is maintained throughout each illustration.
“The most interesting cities are definitely the larger ones —particularly Seoul and Tokyo—but also some of the smaller cities that break from the norm—like Glasgow and its infamous single loop line, or Oslo and its unique route structure and map that kind of looks like a Space Invader,” says Dovak.
Dovak has plans to create more illustrated maps and would like to eventually make animations to show the changes to each system over time. You can check out more of his maps here and pick up a printed version here.