Raelina Krikston

Designer, hitch-hiker, and world traveller

8

7

Beyond The Map: Re-Discovering My Hometown in Different Cities Around the World

I'm not the most worldly explorer, I have to admit. I am a debutant to even the roads well travelled. But we all have to start somewhere, right? 

When I did finally start to explore new countries, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic for my home town. It wasn't so much a home-sickness, but little things I would see that would remind me of memories had in Denver, Colorado. 

Whether it was a spot on a river bank, a coffeeshop, or just something I saw walking down the street, I would be reminded more and more of Denver. Associations like this left me wondering: where would my favorite places in Denver be situated if they were in a different city? 

Where would I find my favorite reading spot in Denver if I were situated in Paris? What would I see in the location of my favorite Denver bakery in Berlin? By forming connections with a place that I know well with a place that I don't know at all I could find a new way to explore a city. This recontextualization of cities allows me to make associations with unknown places that I never would have before. 

So here's what I did to follow this idea. I mapped my favorite places in Denver and then measured those distances from a cardinal orientation, then I re-plotted these locations in a different city. 

I started with my home in Denver. So many good memories were had in that house there was no way I could leave it out. 

First I measured the distance and location of my house from the capital building of Denver. (This point measures 6.58 km S and 2.52 km E). I chose to use the capital of the city because it is a symbolic center of Denver and there is a capital building in just about every city that I would be able to use to re-plot my points.

This is what it would look like in Google Maps. 

Then I measured the appropriate distance but this time used the Reichstag in Berlin as my cardinal orientation. 

Immediately I saw the difference between how the two cities were distributed. Denver, like many mid-west cities is strictly on the grid. Everything is much more spaced out compared to Berlin which follows a circular orientation and is much more dense. 

In Denver my house is relatively close to the capital, just a 20 minute bike ride and I'm there. In Berlin however, my "house" is situated just inside the periphery of the city and is considered to be much father even though it is literally the same distance from the city center. (Perception vs. Reality) 

This is a minimalist representation of the orientation points and the highways and bodies of water in Denver and Berlin. It is an easy way to visualize how the cities compare geographically and from a city planning perspective. 

Once this was done I thought about my favorite places in Denver and plotted those points onto my map. I included commercial locations like coffeeshops, bars, cafés, and shops, but also non-commercial locations like the roof of a parking garage, and a specific location in a park. The mix of commercial and non-commecial locations paints a well lit portrait of Denver; it is not too touristic nor is it completely personal. All of the points have some personal meaning to me, but there is of course value for other people to visit as well. 

At first I went a little crazy... 



But the upside to having all these points is that I could now see where the different neighborhoods ended and began. All of these points allowed me to create different zones in the city. That way when I went to a new city I could pick one or two points from each zone, and be sure that I wasn't concentrating too much in one place. 

Once I had all my places I was ready to re-plot and find what was waiting for me. The cities I chose to go to (so far) are Paris, Dublin, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, London, Sevilla, Barcelona. 

Now comes the fun part. Off we go! First city: Berlin. 

Comments

Please sign in or sign up to comment.