In the 1930s, Harry Beck published a map of the London Underground Tube network. Since then, stations have arrived and departed and colours have changed, however, the outline has stayed close to the original design. Three-quarters of a century on from the original design, Jeremy Weate reinterpreted the iconic map for a megacity with a similar population size.
Creating this map felt like a necessary act – my subconscious had been driving me mad to produce it. Back in July 2007, Lagos State had a new governor, Fashola, and there were rumours that he meant business. Lagos had been neglected and unloved for decades, with its modern infrastructure of bridges and flyovers becoming increasingly dilapidated and even dangerous. It was time for fresh ideas.
Using the iconic London Underground tube map as a basis for a Lagos mass transit system was never meant to be taken as a serious proposition. It was,rather, a device to stimulate the imagination to think again about what could be done with the city. Ultimately, Lagos is more like Venice than London – it’s a city surrounded by water. Any transit system for Lagos that doesn’t make major use of the creeks and lagoons would be a wasted opportunity.
As with the London version, I have taken quite a few geographic/artistic licences for the purposes of design clarity and readability. My thinking is ppp: companies with deep pockets could sponsor the design & build of some of the stations to reduce the strain on the public purse, and in return pick the name of their choice (see Zenith, Silverbird, IBTC). On the other hand, some of the station names strongly signal a poetic sense of place, as with Palace (for the Oba’s Palace on Lagos Island), and 1004, standing for the eponymous flats. Again, for ease of use, I have left out the Five Cowrie Creek that separates Lagos Island from Victoria Island below it – those familiar with the morphology of Lagos can project it onto the map in their imagination.
For example, the highbrow set could take the Falomo line (Piccadilly renamed) from their Bourdillon mansions to catch a classical music concert at Muson – at last not having to worry about parking and ‘settling’ awon boys; one could shop for a picnic at The Palms, then drink and eatit all on the new-look Bar Beach; or one could stock up on no-one-need-know juju fetish-wear at Oyingbo market before heading forthe Silverbird cinema (connecting to the Circle line at Kuramo Waters).
What the map does, I think, is make you realise what a great city Lagos could be if it was just a little easier to get around. It is also a celebration of place – all the nooks and crannies of the city, each with its own flavour.
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