The 2012 Olympic Games kicked off with a bang this weekend in London, where thousands gathered to attend a spectacular opening ceremony overseen by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle. It was a sprawling, 3-hour-45-minute extravaganza that the New York Times described as a "noisy, busy, witty, dizzying production" that included everyone from James Bond to Mr. Bean. And at the center of it all was a giant map of London superimposed upon the Olympic stadium floor.
When viewed from above, the layout's geography seems rather obvious -- a labyrinth of city streets bisected by the snaking Thames River. But as the Daily Mail reports, this was no ordinary map. As it turns out, Boyle and his team based their design not on a traditional London map, but on one created by Space Syntax, a design and urban planning firm. To build their map, Space Syntax first analyzed data on traffic flows across London, highlighting the streets that most frequently used by pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists. They then ranked each street, assigning varying shades of gray to each. Boyle then reproduced this map in painstaking detail, laying the foundation upon which the world's greatest athletes would stand.
The result is what Space Syntax Managing Director Tim Stonor calls a "live map" -- a more dynamic, humanist representation of this year's host city. "This map captures the essence of London," Stonor the Daily Mail. "People moving and interacting in space; sharing stories and ideas; trading, creating and innovating; a social and economic network, played out in streets and public spaces,'
Click here for high-res photos of Boyle's stadium design, as well as more information on the ways in which city planners are putting Stonor's map to use.