SHIBUYA::EXTRUDED is a map of my neighborhood in Shibuya, Tokyo. It consists of seven layers of laser-cut wood, each layer representing a different type of street or path: walkways, roads, highways, byways, freeways and interstates. Ōhashi Junction inscribes a nice cursive loop in the bottom left, while the blue emptiness of Yoyogi Park opens an gasp of peaceful space in the middle of all this infrastructural noise.

We are used to employing any number of projection techniques to wrangle our globe into two dimensions: Cassini, Gauss–Krüger, Kavrayskiy VII. This piece speaks to the contrarian desire to take Mercator by the collar and shake some arbitrary dimensionality back out of it. I feel like this desire is related to the primitive excitement one feels when one opens a 2D object in a 3D modeling software and extrudes it — the sense that you are buffeting the real and corporeal from an abstract sketch, even if the original third dimension has been lost.

Before going through the trouble of printing and painting and gluing everything together, I built an interactive prototype in OpenFrameworks. Out of curiousity, I plotted all of my recent Foursquare checkins as little tufts of white. If you're interested in prototyping a map of your own, I ported the original C++ to WebGL and posted it to my GitHub.

The map was created with open source GIS data from OpenStreetMap (available for download here). Data for the Tokyo metro area was loaded into MapBox’s free map tool, TileMill, and separated into corresponding layers. The layers were then exported as individual SVG files and, after a certain amount of cleaning, printed out at my neighborhood Fab Lab.

I love my neighborhood. I love that I have a Fab Lab, Tokyo Hands, Yoyogi Park, Ōhashi Junction and Tokyo's weirdest record store right at my doorstep. And while seven layers can't even begin to do justice to the multiplicity of valences that overlay every cul-de-sac and alleyway, I hope they give a hint of just how deep this city goes.


Shibuya, Tokyo.