Small Multiples: visual explorations in architecture and information design

Variations and local comparisons

The term Small Multiples was introduced and popularized by Eduard Tufte, who defined them as “graphical depictions of variable information that share context, but not content“. Small Multiples allow the comparative visual display of multivariable data that would otherwise be difficult to present in a single chart. Since all the elements share the same design and scale, once you’ve learned how to read a single element you can apply your knowledge to all the rest. Simplicity is crucial in order for the reader to focus on changes in the data.

Here are some of our favourite examples of the use of small multiples. For a wider selection you can chek out our Pinterest board.



GitHut by Carlo Zapponi. The image shows the Top active languages in GitHub

GitHut is a project by Carlo Zapponi that attempts to visualize and explore the complexity of the universe of programming languages used across the repositories hosted on GitHub. The quantitative data used in GitHut is collected from GitHub Archive and is updated on a quarterly basis.


From First Published to Masterpieces_Accurat

“From first published to masterpieces” by Accurat

From first published to masterpieces” visualizes the authors of the 100 best english novels as ranked by the Modern Library. Ordered from the earliest success to the last one, authors are represented through circles showing their life span and the moment of their debut novel and consecutively published masterpieces. The visualization contains also information about the author’s hometown and novels’ ranking. It is designed and produced by Accurat and was originally published in italian on La Lettura.


Small multiple glyphs showing connections to other lines. Image from Shanghai Metro Flow project by Till Nagel and Benedikt Groß

Shanghai Metro Flow is a project by Till Nagel and Benedikt Groß that visualizes the pulse of Shanghai’s subway network – one of the busiest and fastest growing rapid transit systems in the world. The project consists of an animation with three network visualizations, and an accompanying infographic poster showing subway line details. Connections between different lines are visualized via small multiple glyphs that take the shape of a 12h clock so that each line is always displayed at the same angle. You can read the accompanying paper “Shanghai Metro Flow – Multiple perspectives into a subway system“.


11. Kisho Nenkan 1984. Meteorological Almanac

1,826 days of Tokyo weather history. Source: “Envisioning Information” by Edward Tufte

This high-information density graphic is a classical example of a small multiple. It visualizes a concentrated history of Tokyo’s climate: a full decade of observations by town, year, month, and day. The 1,826 days of weather history range from Clear – Clear; Fair  – Fair;  small img – Cloudy to Light Rain – Light Rain; Rain – Rain and  Snow – Snow. The image originates from a 1984 Meteorological Almanac by The Meteorology Agency and Japan Meteorology Association. It was redrawn and published in Edward Tufte’s  “Envisioning Information“.


People on Staircase in Motion_Jerome Marhak

“People on Staircase in Motion” by Jerome Marshak.

People on Staircase in Motion” by Jerome Marshak is an art piece that includes 5,000 single images taken in the course of a 6-week study of pedestrian activity on MOMA strairs in June and July, 2012.


“Small multiples, whether tabular or pictorial, move to the heart of visual reasoning – to see, distinguish, choose. Their multiplied smallness enforces local comparisons within our eyespan, relying on an active eye to select and make contrasts rather than on bygone memories of images scattered over pages and pages.”

E. Tufte


Small Multiples in Architecture

Diagrammatic reasoning and visual representation of multiple variations in a given context are fundamental parts of the architect’s toolkit. The study of a single element and the scope of its alternatives can result in an entire spatial strategy. Such is the case, for example, in Junya Ishigami’s KAIT workshop where the position of the 305 columns, non of which identical in orientation and proportion, give rise to countless circulation paths and diverse environments.



Little Gardens by Junya Ishigami

“Little Gardens” and KAIT workshop: visual explorations and spatial strategies.

If you browse through the pages of JA78 you will come across a couple of Junya Ishigami‘s projects who differ largely in scale but share the same level of elaboration and care for the detail. On one side – 384 miniature gardens all the size of a fingertip; on the other – an unit study for the 305 slender columns of Kangawa Institute of Technology workshop. They all coexist peacefully on two adjacent pages and reveal a spatial strategy that blurs the boundaries between the notions of space and landscape. Meanwhile the graphical display of the their variability enables direct comparison of all the instances in each context – an approach that is intrinsic to Tufte’s definition of Small Multiples.

“Little Gardens” is a miniature installation that fits on the top of a single table. It was designed in 2007 as a part of an exhibition during Tokyo Design Week when five japanese architects, including Junya Ishigami, were invited to create an unique piece of art around the theme of a “box”. According to Ishigami, each miniature element works both as a little flower vase and as a space container – a tiny “exhibition room” for pressed flowers. Thoroughly catalogued and labeled, the innumerable containers are displayed as an entity on a round table where they form spatial clusters and ultimately – a whole landscape.



junya.ishigami+associates, little gardens 2007-2008. Photo by Takumi Ota, collection of Tatsumi Sato


In these two projects, I prioritized neither “spaces” nor “landscapes”.

Junya Ishigami


KAIT Workshop-unit study

KAIT workshop by Junya Ishigami. Image source: JA78

Kanagawa Institute of Technology workshop (also known as a “White forest in a grey field”) is Junya Ishigami’s first realized building. The 2000 square-meter workshop hosts 14 loosely defined open spaces, dedicated to diverse activities. Within their ambiguous boundaries one will come accross four multipurpose work spaces; a small supply shop; specialized areas for pottery, woodworking, computer graphics, metal casting, and other.

The act of movement was treated with special care:


 “In architecture, plans determine the flow of circulation through spaces. Yet, when there are various routes to choose from, people generally use those they like best. The choice may be a reflection of taste or of one’s own rationality. Always passing along the same route may lend a certain sense of ease. On occasion, one chooses another route introducing a change of pace. One wonders just how many different routes are available within this building.”

J. Ishigami



Unit study for KAIT workshop. Image source: JA78

Ambiguity as a spatial strategy: column permutations

The spatial strategy for KAIT workshop is entirely based on the seemingly random distribution of structural elements whose exact location and orientation took years to determine. Rigorous studies in the course of the design process resulted in 290 variations of a quadrilateral unit section ranging from 16mmx145mm for the thinnest tension member to 63mmx90mm for the thickest stress member. Column permutations were tested iteratively during that phase using varied techniques: from hand drawings and CAD to scale models – more than 1000 in total.

The columns defined both the structural and the spatial configuration discribed by Junya Ishigami as “a multitude of places within the same space”.


The architect adopted the notion of ambiguity and conceived the building as if planning a forest. He introduced infinite variations and possibilities of walking paths and shaped a space that is percieved differently at any given point within the interior. The final bulding resulted from a continual process of fine-tuning multiple variables: from the section and orientation of the pillars to their variation in density and load-bearing capacity.



Topological Grid by Shohei Matsukawa

This last example is a concept by Shohei Matsukawa that proposes the use of a generalized algorithm – called Topological Grid in the design phase of an architecural project. Topological grid is a design system: it enables dynamic searching among finite possible solutions – each of them adapted to suit the given cotext.




Seijo apartments, SANAA: study

Density, Scale and Type

The need to overcome data complexities while working with a multitude of constraints and parameters in an architectural program is what makes small multiples the best solution in many cases. They enable pattern recognition while introducing direct comparison and visual measure of variations. Besides all that, there are three notions built-in the logic of small multiples that make them extremely relevant for the visual display of architectural studies: the notions of density, scale and type.


“At the heart of quantitative reasoning is a single question: Compared to what?
Small multiple designs, multivariate and data bountiful, answer directly by visually enforcing comparisons of changes, of the differences among objects, of the scope of alternatives. For a wide range of problems in data presentation, small multiples are the best design solution. ”

E. Tufte




Visiting the MIT Senseable City Lab / Singapore

We recently visited the MIT Senseable City Lab at the SMART research centre in Singapore. It was a long journey – more than 9000km (6000 miles) separate Europe from Singapore.

Singapore is a sovereign city-state and island country situated in Southeast Asia with a population of about 5.5 million. It is among the biggest ports in the world and has the best quality of life in Asia according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In the recent years Singapore has become a vibrant Research & Development hub bringing together local and international research teams. This process is largely supported by the National Research Foundation – an organization established in 2006 by the Prime Minister’s Office in effort to develop the research and development capabilities of the country.





In 2007 the National Research Foundation of Singapore and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) joined forces to establish SMART — MIT’s first research centre outside the United States. The SMART headquarters are located in the CREATE campus – an innovation hub hosting multiple leading international research centers. The Campus was designed by Arup and was named ‘Laboratory of the Year’ by R&D Magazine in 2013. Berkley, Cambridge, ETH Zurich, Technische Universität München are among the top universities that carry out research in the campus collaborating with a network of local researchers.

At SMART, the Senseable City Lab investigates how digital techologies change the way people interact with the city. It focuses on improving the efficiency of urban transportation systems by using new models and tools for the planning, design and operation of future urban transportation. The Lab is directed by Carlo Ratti and brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers, data scientists, software engineers and interaction designers.



Live Singapore

Live Singapore! is one of the main initiatives of the Lab. It focuses on making urban real-time data available to citizens. The project initiates public discussions about better planning and city management through the use of urban data.

In 2012, the Lab exhibited Visual explorations of urban mobility – a project exploring the digital traces left by the citizens as they travel across the city with public transport or by car. Touching Bus Rides and Data Lenses are two of the prototypes developed for the exhibition:




MIT Data Collider Screenshot

Data Collider

DataCollider is the latest project coming out from the MIT Senseable City Lab / Singapore. It is a tool that allows you to easely create beautiful data visualizations.

The project grew out of the lab’s efforts to simplify the process of analyzing and visualizing big amounts of data. It was developed in-house for about 2 years and was recently announced to the public.

DataCollider works by allowing you to upload, process and visualize your data. Internally, it uses Hadoop to process the data and a combination of d3.js, Three.js and Cesium.js to create the visualization.

In a way it is similar to CartoDB and Mapbox’s Tilemill. However, DataCollider comes with a set of unique features such as the ability to transform data by visually defining data operators. To do that, you place your operators on a canvas and connect them together to form a workflow – similarly to how VVVV, Grasshopper3d and NoFlo.js work.

Currently, the project is in beta. You can request an invitation to start playing with it. The team have put together a nice Guide to get you started.



Data Drives - Interactive Installation by the MIT Senseable City Lab

Data Drives

Data Drives is an Interactive data visualization based on Data Collider recently exhibited in the National Museum of Singapore. It allows you to rotate and zoom the data visualizations by interacting with a large touch-enabled display powered by Microsoft’s Perceptive PixelIt was quite fun playing with it while visiting the Lab.




Decoding the City

Learn More

Decoding the City is a recent publication coming from the The MIT Senseable City Lab. The Editorials Carlo Ratti and Dietmar Offenhuber present a collection of essays and research papers explaining how urban data can be analyzed and visualized to better undestand the processes taking place within the city.



Gift Ideas for Architects

Picking a gift for an architect may be a hard task. We have gathered a short list of gift ideas for architects. The list contains some of the objects we use on a day-to-day basis and we like for the quality of their design.

Cube Timer

Cube Timer

Cube Timer

A useful minimal cube timer. We love it for the ease of use. Each side of the cube represents a time interval in minutes. You can start the timer by just flipping the cube over. When the time is over the cube starts beeping.

The build quality may have been better, but still – this is a great little timer.

Order the Cube Timer



Vitra Toolbox

Vitra Toolbox

Vitra Toolbox

We love Vitra for the timeless quality of their designs. Herzog & de Meuron, Charles & Ray Eames, Jean Prouvé are some of the great designers that have worked with the company.
This beautiful toolbox designed by Arik Levy is a practical organizational tool. The toolbox is perfectly sized to host all types of office accessories.

It helps us keep our desk in the state of “organized complexity”.

Order the Toolbox



Dot on Calendar 2015

Dot on Calendar 2015

Dot On Calendar

We have always wanted an easy and visual way to keep track of our calendar and stay on top of it. The Dot on Calendar seems to be the perfect match. Each event is represented by a dot that you stick on the calendar.

By the end of the year, the calendar should turn into a nice data visualization. The dots will start to form patterns and we’ll see what Eduard Tufte refers to as “small multiples“.

Order the Dot On Calendar


Synology Network Attached Storage

Synology Network Attached Storage

Synology NAS

Big part of the architect’s work is digital. Keeping the data safe is important. For this task, we rely on a Synology Disk Station. The NAS device replicates the data on two hard drives, so even if one of them fails, the other keeps the data safe.

Synology provides great integrations with third party packages. You can backup the data on Amazon Glacier, install Git or even host a website or mailbox. It is also a great storage solution for photos and videos.
You will need to buy the hard drives separately. We run our Synology DS with 2 x 3TB Red Western Digital hard drives.

Order Synology DiskStation


Tombow Pens

Tombow Pens

Tombow Pens

The Tombow pens are great for quick sketches and drawings. Each marker has two tips: a flexible brush tip and a fine tip.
We’ve been using our set of pens for many years now and you can certainly recognize the japanese quality of the markers.

Order the Tombow Pen Set



Books on Architecture & Urbanism

Richard Powell on Books

A Book

Richard Powell is right – we love to collect books. In fact, there are so many great books that it’s hard to pick one. To make things easier, we have selected several topics and listed some of our favourites in each category:

Architecture: In Praise of Shadows, Thinking Architecture

Data Visualization: Information Graphics, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Digital Fabrication: Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals, Digital Fabrications: Architectural and Material Techniques

Urbanism: Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Data & the City: Smart about Cities: Visualising the Challenge for 21st Century Urbanism, Decoding the City: Urbanism in the Age of Big Data

Business & Strategic Design: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary, The Monocle Guide to Good Business 




Arch You Houses by  Anne Boysen

Arch You Houses by  Anne Boysen


Arch:You is a collection of decorative houses designed by the dannish architect Anne Boysen. The minimalist houses vary in material and size: they are made out of wood or cast in concrete.

These small houses look great on the bookshelf and may be used as bookends.

Order Arch:You



Geo data in Grasshopper, the Beauty of Data Visualizations and the Future of our Cities

This is another post in the Morphocode Picks series, collecting some of the most interesting stuff that we’ve shared recently on facebooktwitter and google+.



Geo data in Grasshopper

Heron is a new add-on for Grasshopper that allows you to import Geographical data in Rhino and Grasshopper.
Importing shapefiles, topographies and geo-coding are among the most interesting features of the add-on.

Get Heron for Grasshopper



modern beauty data visualization

The Modern Beauty of 19th-Century Data Visualizations

Vintage Visualizations is a project that reproduces a number of the LOC’s Civil War-era data visualizations in high-quality poster prints.

Learn More




On being smart about cities

Smart About Cities is a new book by Maarten Hajer and Ton Dassen discussing the future of cities. The book gives a great overview of the challenges that urbanism is facing today and contains a series of beautiful infographics.
Maarten Hajer argues that understanding the history of urbanism is critical for the debate on the future of our cities. “The problems contemporary cities are facing may seem daunting. But they are not without precedent.”

Order the book



Drawing and Data Visualizations

Giorgia Lupi – design director at Accurat talks about the importance of visual inspiration and the act of drawing.
“I see design as a way to translate a structural concept for a specific audience, through a specific medium; design for me is also the process of visual planning and organizing the choices made along the way of a project, given its specific boundaries.”

Read the Interview



Joost Grootens—On Creative Mapping

In an interview for Gestalten, dutch graphic designer Joost Grootens talks about the creative mapping and editorial design.

Watch on Vimeo




Global Trends of Urbanization

The number of mega-cities has nearly tripled since 1990; and by 2030, 41 urban agglomerations are projected to house at least 10 million inhabitants each.
Just three countries — India, China and Nigeria – together are expected to account for 37 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050.

Read more



The Uses of Big Data in Cities

“The Uses of Big Data in Cities” by Luís Bettencourt explores how big data can be useful in urban planning by formalizing the planning process as a general computational problem.

Read the paper


Rabbit 0.4 released. Now without limitations.

We have just released Rabbit 0.4 – the latest version of our plug-in for Grasshopper. The new release is the first step in the process of open-sourcing the plug-in.


No Limits

Rabbit 0.4 no longer have expiry date. This release also removes the maximum grid size limit, so that you can fully explore cellular automata. As usual, Rabbit is freely available for download on our site.

Get it here


Join us on GH

We have created a new user group on Grasshopper3d. This will make it easy for you to get updates about Rabbit and the latest tutorials in Morphocode Academy.

Join the group


Global Trends of Urbanization

Cities are the manifestation of the cultural, economic and social acceleration that we have experienced in our modern history. In 1950 about 2/3 of the population worldwide lived in rural settlements and 1/3 in urban settlements. By 2050, we will observe roughly the reverse distribution, with more than 6 billion people living in the messy, burgeoning athmosphere of urbanized areas.
According to the Sustainable Urbanization Policy Brief, urban centres currently occupy less than 5% of the world’s landmass. Nevertheless they account for around 70% of both global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. Innovation in urban infrastrucure and technology is essential when addressing this issue. For instance, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by up to 1.5 billion CO2e annually by 2030, primarily through transformative change in transport systems in the world’s 724 largest cities[1].

Urban planning decisions and strategic design thinking in the context of rapid urbanization account for social equity, mobility patterns, global competitiveness and energy-efficiency. In that sense a brief comparison between Atlanta and Barcelona shows at a glance that cities with similar populations can have very different carbon emissions[2], depending on how the urban layout is conceived. With urban area of 4,280 km2, Atlanta’s carbon emissions are ten times higher than those in the city of Barcelona, whose built-up area is 162 km2. Both cities have population of about 2.5 million people.

Atlanta vs. Barcelona

Source: The New Climate Economy Report | Chapter 2 | Cities

As densities decline, city areas grow faster than city populations [3] and affect environmental sustainability at a local, regional and global scale. How we manage this unprecedented urban growth in the following years is likely to determine the outcome of our sustainability endeavours.


Percentage urban and location of urban agglomerations with at least 500,000 inhabitants, 2014

Percentage urban and location of urban agglomerations with at least 500,000 inhabitants, 2014. Source: UN | World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights

Between now and 2050, 90% of the expected increase in the world’s urban population will take place in the urban areas of Africa and Asia [4] . In other words the projected urban growth will be concentrated in cities in the developing world where the correlation of the rate of urbanization with economic growth has been weaker.

The global trends of urbanization in the first decades of the 21st century are significantly different from what we have experienced so far in terms of urban transition. Urbanization is taking place at lower levels of economic development and the majority of future urban population growth will take place in small- to medium-sized urban areas in developing countries. Expansion of urban areas is on average twice as fast as urban population with significant consequences for greenhouse gas emissions and climate change[5].


Global Urban Population Growth 1990-2030

Source: UN | World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights

According to this year’s United Nations report on World Urbanization we will observe the following trends:

  • Continuing population growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050, with nearly 90% of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa.
  • The fastest growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with less than 1 million inhabitants located in Asia and Africa.
  • Most megacities and large cities are located in the global South.
  • Just three countries — India, China and Nigeria – together are expected to account for 37 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050. India is projected to add 404 million urban dwellers, China 292 million and Nigeria 212 millions.
  • Close to half of the world’s urban dwellers reside in relatively small settlements of less than 500,000 inhabitants, while only around 1/8 live in the 28 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants.
  • The number of mega-cities has nearly tripled since 1990; and by 2030, 41 urban agglomerations are projected to house at least 10 million inhabitants each.
  • Tokyo is projected to remain the world’s largest city in 2030 with 37 million inhabitants, followed closely by Delhi where the population is projected to rise swiftly to 36 million.


Contribution to the increase in urban population by country, 2014 to 2050

Contribution to the increase in urban population by country, 2014 to 2050. Source: UN | World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights

Urban scaling holds both the key to long-term sustainable development and irreversible damages to our planet. The expected increase in urban land cover during the first three decades of the 21st century will be greater than the cumulative urban expansion in all of human history [5]. These unprecedented rates of urbanization put enormous pressure on environmental sustainability thresholds and indicators. Tackling strategic components of urban form such as density levels, land use patterns and connectivity will have a major impact on the global economy and climate.




  1. The New Climate Economy Report. 2014.
  2. Bertaud, A. and Richardson, A.W., 2004. Transit and Density: Atlanta, the United States and Western Europe.
  3. Shlomo Angel, Making Room for a Planet of Cities
  4. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014).
    World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/352).
  5. [IPCC AR 5 WG3 Chapter 12]
  6. Sustainable Urbanization Policy Brief


Photo Courtesy of Leah Davies

Urban Layers: What’s next?

We recently announced our latest project Urban Layers – an interactive map that explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric.

The project is a part of an ongoing research focused on the intersection of open data and urban planning. In that sense, visualizing historical data marks the begging of a long-term initiative.
At that point we’ve used open data and some of the latest mapping technologies to render more than 45000 buildings and allow user-interaction with the map.

We are happy to trace and track all of the positive feedback and shout out a big “Thanks” to everyone who shared the project!



In the Media

We were happy to see Urban Layers gain some attention as it was named Map of the week by Gmaps Mania.

” Urban Layers is an incredible new mapped visualization of Manhattan’s building history. The map uses building construction data from PLUTO with Mapbox GL to create a highly responsive and interactive tool to explore the history of building construction in central New York.”

Mapping the History of Manhattan’s Growth
Keir Clarke — GMapsMania


Michelle Young — founder of @untappedcities published a great article about the project:

“A map tool that opens with a quote from Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York? How could we resist?”

Explore the Phantom Architecture of NYC’s Past


The map was also published on FastCodesign, gizmodo, curbedNYLesEchos.frLumieres de la villeArkitera and featured in a video by France24.

“Morphocode has done their fair part in decoding the building hullaballoo with Urban Layers, an interactive map that allows users to scroll through different decades while it depicts how development spread across the city.”

See How Development in Manhattan Spread Over 250 Years


On Citylab

Urban Layers ultimately made it to the front page of Citylab where it became the most popular story.  Make sure to read the full article written by Kriston Capps.


“Seeing when those buildings were constructed at the parcel level with a simple slide of a rule is a real advance in data mapping”

Mapping the Age of Every Building in Manhattan




On Twitter

The response on twitter was great. Here are some of our favourite tweets:



What’s Next?

Urban Layers is a work-in-progress. We have just scratched the surface of what is possible in terms of dynamic urban mapping and we are looking forward to:

Add more ‘Data Layers’
PLUTO – the dataset used in Urban Layers contains various information for each building: year built, footprint, height, ownership, etc. The ‘year built’ data is arguably the most inaccurate field and we are planning to add the rest of the available data to the map.
Adding more data fields and the ability to filter and cross-reference layers will provide a more in-depth look into urban dynamics.

Add more Cities
Adding the rest of NYC, as well as other cities is also something that we are excited about. Amsterdam and Chicago are great candidates for that since they already provide various open data sets.
Do you want to see a particular city/community featured? Drop us a line and let us know.

Fix Bugs
There are a couple of bugs related to the WebGL renderer that prevent to see the map in detail with some hardware configurations.

Better Mobile/Browser Support
We would like to improve the support for touch-enabled devices that support WebGL.



Support the project

The guys at Mapbox were kind enough to provide us with a one year standard plan and we are looking forward to use its full potential. Thank you Eric & Matt!

For anyone else willing to support the project or interested in any kind of collaboration – feel free to contact us !

Hope you’ve enjoyed Urban Layers. Thanks for spreading the word!


Rabbit for Grasshopper going open source

Rabbit – our beloved plug-in for Grasshopper will soon get an update! The most important thing is that we will open source the plug-in.

Rabbit is written in C# and is based on the Rhino & Grasshopper SDK. The code will be published on github so that anyone will be able to contribute and help improve the plug-in. We will also remove all limitations related to the grid size.

Adding more features is also on the todo list, so if you have any specific requirement in mind – share it in the comments bellow or on the Rabbit page.

Open sourcing will happen gradually as we need to review the current codebase and update it for the latest versions of Grasshopper and Rhino. Stay tuned for updates!


Announcing Urban Layers

We are happy to announce that Urban Layers is online!

Urban Layers is an interactive map created by Morphocode that explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric . The map lets you navigate through historical fragments of the borough that have been preserved and are now embedded in its densely built environment.

View Project



Urban Layers in action


Use the sliders to identify some of Manhattan’s oldest buildings; to discover how the beginning of the 20th century marked the island’s urban environment or to explore the distribution of building activity over the last decades.

Learn more.




The Making Of

Urban Layers is based on data from PLUTO and the NYC building footprints dataset. We’ve used Mapbox GL JS to render the map. If you are interested in the whole process of making be sure to visit our Academy page and learn more about The making of Urban Layers.