What is Gigamapping?

Gigamapping is super extensive mapping across multiple layers and scales with the goal of investigating relations between seemingly separate categories, hence providing boundary critiques on the conception and framing of systems.

An example of a food gigamap

Eat Food by Xiang Li 2020

Gigamapping is part of the Systems Oriented Design framework

Design is facing ever-growing challenges from an increasingly complex world. Making design matter means coping with these challenges and being able to enter new, important design fields where design can play a crucial role. To achieve this, we need to become better at coping with super-complexity.

SOD is a version of systems thinking and systems practice developed from within design thinking and design practice – that is, it is systems thinking and systems practice tailored by and for designers. It draws from a designerly way of dealing with super-complexity derived from design practices while referring to established perspectives in modern systems thinking, especially soft systems methodology, critical systems thinking, and systems architecting. Further, it is based on design skills such as visual thinking and visualisation in processes and for communication purposes.

Central to SOD is the technique of gigamapping.

The gigamapping process

Myriadic Quality

Myriadic quality and a degree of messiness are typical for the gigamapping process.

A gigamap is characterised by the following:

Designerly construction of a rich picture of a real-life situation

Mixing information types and kinds (e.g., images, graphics, texts, and other media)

Mixing information sources

Myriadic quality, which includes large amounts of information

Crossing scales, from a large to small scale (microscope, telescope, wide-angle views)

Combining and relating categorically different entities

Covering wide fields

Digging into details

Combining, interpolating and criticising systems models

Boundary construction, critique and adjustment

Super Extensive Mapping

Gigamapping is super extensive mapping across many sections, layers and scales with the goal of investigating relations between seemingly separate things, categories, and silos.

Anybody can gigamap

Gigamapping is a design tool, however, anybody can gigamap. It has a very low initial threshold and a lot of depth to learn and progress.

Visualisation Tools

Gigamaps are tools for visual thinking and understanding complex systems.

Process Tools

Gigamaps are process tools and are not meant to communicate outside of the involved stakeholders or owners of the maps.

Co-design & Co-creation

Gigamaps are super for sharing views, getting teams on the same page and for co-design and co-creation.


Read these pages and start to practice or contact birger.sevaldson@aho.no

Giga-Mapping: Visualisation for complexity and systems thinking in design by Birger Sevaldson was presented at NORDES 2011.

Gigamap with ZIP points

Lucie Pavlistikova, Martin Malek, Mirka Baklikova, Mariia Borisova, Georgia Papasozomenou, 2016.


Why gigamaps are fuzzy

Why gigamaps are fuzzy

Most of infographics have an intention to sort, frame, tame and simplify information so as to make it accessible for anybody. Evaluating gigamapping as we practice it according to these criteria misses the point.

Gigamap Gallery

Gigamap Gallery

The gigamap gallery includes work from AHO, HIALS, NTNU, HIOA, and advanced students from Estonia Technical University in Tallin, Chalmers in Sweden, OCADU, Canada and IIT, India and other places and by professionals around the Oslo area. Gigamaps are process...