The centuries-old world map that we all have grown up seeing in our classrooms is shockingly flawed. And yet, we all accept its notorious distortion because you just cannot show a round world on a flat map accurately, right? So, even though Africa is almost 14 times larger than Greenland, we are used to seeing them being around the same size on the Mercator projection.
Not anymore! A Japanese architect has come up with a map of the world so proportionately perfect that you can practically fold it up into a 3D globe.
The basic flaw with the traditional Mercator map is that it makes things around the poles look bigger and things around the Equator look smaller. But, Hajime Narukawa’s groundbreaking AuthaGraph World Map divides the globe into 96 triangle-shaped regions. These triangles are then flattened and transferred to a tetrahedron. Following this math-heavy process basically allows the map to be unfolded into a 2D rectangle surface while maintaining the precise proportions of the countries.
At first glance, the map looks pretty weird. It bafflingly tilts our planet’s landmasses like the Americas, Asia, and Africa askew to preserve the area ratios of land and water. Narukawa aims to provide a new viewpoint to perceive the world. For example, it may be easier to dismiss global warming if you see an infinite mass of sea ice around the North pole.
This wacky map has won Narukawa Japan’s prestigious Good Design Grand Award, beating over 1,000 entries in a variety of categories for its nifty, ingenious design. The Good Design Award website explains that the AuthaGraph faithfully represents all oceans and continents, including the neglected Antarctica. These fit within a rectangular frame with no interruptions. The map can be tessellated without visible seams. The name AuthaGraph comes from authalic (a parametric latitude which gives a sphere equal surface area relative to an ellipsoid) and graph.
You can snag a copy of the AuthaGraph world map for your home and office here.