Scanning the Stormy Scottish Coast

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About the map

There are over 2,000 shipwrecks and naval obstructions lying just off (<5km from) the coast of Scotland. Some are concentrated where you might expect, close to major cities and ports. Yet others might surprise you — if you’re not a history buff that is (See the Scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow)!

Inspired by luminous dashboards in spy films and the sonar systems of submarines, we wanted to create a thematic and interactive representation of the Wrecks and Obstructions dataset maintained by the UK Hydrographic Office.

Why it works

The map mimics intelligence software and invites viewers to explore and interact with it. At first, intelligence is murky and only large aggregations of wrecks are visible. But as the viewer homes in on these aggregations, intelligence improves, and more features reveal themselves.

Coastal cities emerge as lights dotting the coast, and wrecks pop up as glowing Xs atop the map’s sonar. In addition, by muting the land features and accentuating the bathymetry and coastline, the map reframes our visual hierarchy.

As map viewers, we often begin by scanning landmasses for content. But here, the journey begins in the sea.

Important Steps




Tips and tricks

James Findlay, Graduate

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