One of my favorite past-times is to look at maps of London. I have a drawer full of them and can spend hours studying London’s spaghetti junctions.
So, I was pleased to receive a copy of London Unfurled by Matteo Pericoli – a book and map hybrid view of London. The most prominent feature of this book is that it’s a sketch of both sites of the Thames river that fold out into a 37 foot map.
Yes, it’s a book that expands to 37 feet. It’s amazing. The drawing of the Thames is amazing. It’s an exploration of the varied architecture on both sides of the river and Matteo does a great job of capturing each major building.
It’s a great way to study the culture that exists between North and South London.
According to the author: “Unlike rivers that encompass Manhattan, the Thames is a gap: a uniter and a divider. Like two magnets, the riverbanks have been reheating and attracting each other forever. And the resulting energy flows between them.”
The book comes with a handy book where Ian Sinclair and Will Self (two very famous London writers) talk about the content of the map and what it represents. Helpfully, there’s also a miniaturized version of the map the labels each building for easy identification.
My only real complaint about the book is that the map is just so huge – it’s hard to find a good way to investigate it and admire the art. You need a lot of floor space just to look at each section. And it’s not really something you can hang on the wall – you’d need a huge wall and two copies of the book because the paper is double sided (with a side of the river on each side). So, in that regard, it’s not a very practical book.
That doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. It is and will become a cherished part of our London book library.
London Unfurled is available in the USA from this month.