The space that encircles the planet, through which biological life moves, is often more meaningful than just air, land, and water…

Alec Cerminaro

Cultural geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or animals. That “sense of place” can be felt in spaces that exude a strong identity and character, which is often experienced deeply by local inhabitants and visitors.

“Sense of place” is a social phenomenon that exists independently of any one individual’s perceptions or experiences. Yet, it depends on human engagement for its existence. Such a feeling could be derived from the natural environment, but it often consists of a mix of natural and cultural features within the landscape and includes the people and memories that occupy that space.

Mapping Narratives

Earlier this month, I charged graphic design students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) to think of such a place and then take me there. Their task was simple: in 2 weeks, design a map that exhibits this “sense of place” and tell its unique story through narration and navigation.

They moved quickly through the entire process; shifting fluidly through sketches, color choices, and patterns to the design of their maps in Mapbox Studio.

Alongside the design came the narrative; the story they wanted to tell played a significant role in the map’s aesthetic.

Tess Havas

Simplicity was key, as they added custom data with the Mapbox dataset editor while concurrently limiting and filtering the Mapbox Streets data that comes pre-packaged in Studio.

Conner Nielander

In the final project presentations, the students were required to align browser scrolling to the map locations using the flyTo function in Mapbox GL JS. As a basis, they began building their pages with our fly to a location based on scroll position GL JS example code.

Addison Joslyn

This allowed students to use JavaScript to illustrate landmarks, locations, and memories by controlling the map’s destinations and specifying the bearing, pitch, and zoom to alter camera options alongside the narrative with Mapbox GL JS.

Injung Choi

Now it’s your turn!

Think of a place you love and tell us the story using the map’s design and Mapbox GL JS. Tag @mapbox and use the hashtag #BuiltWithMapbox and we’ll be sure to spotlight our favorites on Twitter!