Contemporary Cartography

(Contemporary Cartography was a public exhibition at the Building Centre, open 3 June - 31 August 2019.)

Contemporary Cartography examines how we navigate, document and shape the built environment today through the work of four practices; James Corner Field Operations, ScanLAB Projects, Studio MUTT and Smout Allen.

Maps delineate space and can both conceive and compound geographical, cultural, political and social boundaries as a physical manifestation in the built environment. Often used as a drawing tool, maps can be conflated with plans – neutral forms of data representation that simplify the interrelation of time, space and experience in place making to a singular vision.

The exhibition proposes a re-engagement with maps and acts of cartography as creative, generative processes – positive cultural tools with the potential to reimagine our environments. Through the projects displayed, it hopes to encourage a reflection on different practices of spatial representation, what they tell us about the world we live in and how they help transgress ‘boundaries’ in a variety of senses – both physical and social.

Installations are placed on a giant ‘Dymaxion Map’, created by architect and polymath Buckminster Fuller in 1954 to critique the accepted representation of the earth. By removing visual hierarchies from the presentation of the globe, the map reveals countries as one unified landmass in an ocean; encouraging an alternative view of the world and global social relations.

The projects exhibited on it explore how cartography opens up new ways of seeing complexity in the world and engenders multiple design possibilities. They address the technologies and measuring tools of cartography, questioning their legacy and influence on our experiences of the landscape.

The accompanying events programme explores broader themes through acclaimed international projects, architects and theorists.

Events programme: 

Proving Grounds: Geoff Manaugh in conversation with Smout Allen
Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG, and designers Smout Allen discuss borders, tectonics, and long-term landscape processes.
Wednesday 5 June, 6.30pm - 8.00pm


Contemporary Cartography opening and Store Street Social
Our first Store Street Social of 2019 to celebrate LFA and mark the opening of our exhibition Contemporary Cartography, with projects presented by exhibitors. 
Thursday 6 June, 5.30pm - 8.30pm

The future of drones and our cities, Dezeen's Marcus Fairs in conversation with Liam Young
A screening of Dezeen's 'Elevation – how drones will change cities' with Marcus Fairs and Liam Young.
Tuesday 11 June, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

Reframing Spaces Caracas
Discover the current creative culture and positive work being done in Caracas with the British Council and industry experts from the UK and Venezuela.
Monday 17 June, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

3D scanners as cartographers of the future: an evening with ScanLAB Projects
ScanLAB Projects present their cutting edge work with 3D scanners, redefining space as we know it.
Thursday 20 June, 6.30pm - 8.00pm



Contemporary Cartography is curated by the Building Centre exhibitions team and supported by the Built Environment Trust. It is part of the 2019  London Festival of Architecture.


With thanks to the Contemporary Cartography programme supporters, Medite Smartply