MapCarte 317/365: MasterMap® by Ordnance Survey, 2001


Ordnance Survey has long held a reputation for unsurpassed quality and coverage in its mapping. It’s been steadfast in its approach to mapping of Great Britain such that the quality is world renowned and the envy of many countries. In 2001, Ordnance Survey launched a brand new product to bring its large scale products into the 21st century.


Not so much a map as a digital product that records every single fixed feature of Great Britain in a contiguous database, MasterMap® represents the most detailed, consistent and up-to-date geographical vector database of any country at a scale of 1:1250.  Four separate layers contain topographic, transport, address and imagery data to form the full product. Later, additional layers for water and sites were added.




Every feature is assigned a Topographical Identifier (TOID) that gives it a unique reference as well as attribute information to classify it and support mapping tasks.  Continuous review means the database is as current as the latest ground survey data captured in the field and the product is versatile and flexible enough to suit a myriad of mapping purposes at different scales.


The schema is robust and currently the database contains over 460 million individual features with extensive metadata.  As a product, the release of MasterMap® was, and remains, innovative and its scale and level of detail are unsurpassed.  The uniqueness of its design is in the construction of a database that supports the mapping needs of a diverse set of user requirements. Key to the utility of the product is the ability to select and style the elements from the database that are required for a specific need. Thus, the product can be styled to give it the classic Ordnance Survey appearance, or to match a user-specified style and product requirement.

More details of Mastermap can be found on the Ordnance Survey web site here.

MapCarte 220/365: Iceland by Aitor García Rey, 2013



Click on the image to view web map.

There are a multitude of different ways to represent terrain that might be derived from Digital Elevation Models including analytical hillshades, contours and hachures. All of these, of course, result in fairly traditional representations yet Aitor García Rey has taken the concept of contours (isolines of equal elevation) and created something remarkably different. The interesting thing is he actually hasn’t done anything remarkably different.

Rey’s approach is all down to the particular look and feel. There’s no additional topographic detail on his map other than the contours. He avoids traditional colours such as muted browns and goes, instead, for a palette that ranges from fiery reds in the lower elevations to almost white hot burning colours for the higher elevations. The land of fire and ice is represented with colours that provide the perfect metaphor. He uses a stark black background and nothing more…the contours do their job wonderfully at 20m intervals and which morph to suit each scale of the multiscale web map perfectly.

Quite simply, a beautifully alternative view of Iceland and a novel way of using and symbolising contours.

More details of the technique on Rey’s web site here.