Branding the boroughs 2

hex london

In Felix Barber and Ralph Hyde's superb book London as it might have been, we can read of a Victorian plan to change the structure of the London boroughs, part of a plan to prevent overcharging by cab drivers.

London as it might be

"In the middle of the 19th Century a slightly fanatical Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries published a scheme for an hexagonal London".

".. John Leighton suggested that the old borough boundaries should be altered to conform to a honeycomb pattern. Within a five-mile radius of the General Post Office all the sprawling, differently sized boroughs were to become hexagonal-shaped areas, 2-miles across. There were 19 altogether with the City in the centre of the honeycomb. Each hexagonal borough would be identified by a letter, and the letter as well as a number would be painted or cut out of tin-plate to be visible day and night on lamp-posts at every street corner."

It's an inspired idea, and one that can also serve as the starting point for the Rebranding of the Boroughs.

John Leighton's hexagonal map only extended about 6 miles from the centre of London, but it's a relatively process to extend more concentric rings of hexes, turning the Great Wen into a setting for a boardgame, Settlers of Catan or Squad Leader re-imagined upon London.

hex london hex london

With a clear demarcation between boroughs, it becomes much easier to define transition from one border to another. Unlike the Japanese municipal flags, whose forms are symbolic images and katakana, for London a more typographic treatment was chosen. Inspired by HAL in 2001, each borough is given a 3-letter code for a consistent visual identity.

hex london hex london

Now the jumble of logos and graphical devices can be replaced with a consistent, uniform identity system. The only change is to rename the borough of Haringey as Highgate to avoid the clash with Harrow.

Within each borough, each individual hex can also be given it's own identity, further reinforcing the idea of London as a series of villages. And you could zoom in, each larger 2 mile hex could be divided into a grid of smaller hexes.

hex london