Map Box

A tool to view and develop mental maps.

Craft Plywood + Bronze
This project is an interactive “gift” for anyone arriving in a new location: an engraved map of the area with which they could etch their own annotated maps to understand and remember their surroundings. In this case, the environment is the campus of Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY.

Receiving the Box

A person receives the map box! They take note of its features and start to examine the landscape.


They open the box. Seeing the paper and crayon, they begin to etch a map over the box’s front cover.

Developing the Map

After creating a hazy representation of the environment with the crayon, the user can add detail in places that are relevant to them, showing their mental map of their surroundings becoming clearer.

Understanding the Environment

The user carries around the box. Gradually, they learn their surroundings and are able to navigate with the help of their maps.


Over time, they create a collection of maps that they can use, trade with friends, or keep as keepsakes.