Beijing Native Li Han and I dissected the city to make sense of the metropolis.
This was the reference Li showed me initially, and "Whoa," I thought,
How could we possibly isolate a logical rhythm here?
Actually, Beijing is not that complicated. The design of the city starts with five ring roads, illustrated below. When I make a map, finding the skeleton is about 50% of the work, and in most cases, it's a lot more complicated.*
From there, it's a matter of blossoming the neighborhoods and districts that Beijing residents know and use.
We had a predicament with translation because there are a varitety of ways to translate from Chinese:
1. Translate by phonetic sound.
2. Translate by meaning.
We chose to do a little bit of both because sometimes the meaning is essential to the name. For instance, there is one neighborhood called "紫竹院" (phonetically: Zizhuyuan), but it translates to "Purple Bamboo Park". Since purple is a very powerful and auspicious color and bamboo represents being strong, healthy and safe, it is more true to Chinese tradition that we represent the intention of the name. However, since nobody actually uses that name (even english-speakers), we decided, in the end, to go with the phonetic spelling. We spent a long time considering this!!
Here's the resulting map, all the nooks and crannies stuffed together in a bountiful harvest.