By Birger Sevaldson

Gigamapping is part of the Systems Oriented Design (SOD) framework, which has started to live its own life and spread much further than SOD. This site is a part of the SOD web where aspects of Gigamapping are collected.

The whole SOD menu is directly accessible from the left sidebar menu (red square).


  • Gigamapping is super extensive mapping across many sections, layers and scales with the goal of investigating relations between seemingly separate things, categories, and silos. 
  • Gigamaps are tools for visual thinking and understanding complex systems.
  • Gigamaps are super for sharing views, getting teams on the same page and for co-design and co-creation.
  • Gigamappipng is a design tool, however anybody can gigamap. It has a very low initial threshold and lot of depth to learn and progress.
  • Gigamaps are process tools and not meant to communicate outside of the invovled stakeholders or owners of the maps.
  • Read these pages and start to practice or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


To read more about the context and the whole methodology of Systems Oriented Design go here: >>>>>


ZIP1 web

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

Updated November 2017

Design is facing ever-growing challenges from an increasingly complex world. Making design matter means to cope with these challenges and be 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. Systems-oriented design (SOD) is a new version of systems thinking and systems practice that was 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 emerging technique of 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.

This type of mapping is not new: Kolko describes a very familiar process, as follows:

The user research sessions will produce pages of verbal transcript, hundreds of pictures, and dozens of artifact examples. Because of the complexity of comprehending so much data at once, the designer will frequently turn to a large sheet of paper and a blank wall in order to “map it all out.” Several hours later, the sheet of paper will be covered with what to a newcomer appears to be a mess—yet the designer has made substantial progress, and the mess actually represents the deep and meaningful sense-making that drives innovation. (J. Kolko, 2010 Design Issues Vol 26 issue 1)

Though this process has been described before, it still needs much development to shape it into a substantial technique for the designer. GIGA-mapping transforms the normal mapping activity of design practices into something more of an organised strategy. Kolko also describes the messiness and the lack of linearity in the process forward toward synthesis. Synthesis is bringing all the elements, relations and new inventions in a system together for the system to take on a new role or new state. The diversity and number of elements and relation together create an overall feel of the complexity of the system. This we call myriadic quality. Myriadic qualityand a degree of messiness are typical for the Gigamapping process.

To read more, follow this link >>>>>

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 sources of information
     • 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


GIGAmap map small

A Gigamap draws from and combines many mapping types into one interrelated whole
(Diagram:Birger Sevaldson, 2013)



The term Gigamapping was coined in 2009 by Birger Sevaldson in the context of the 2009 SOD design studio at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. In that studio the designerly mapping techniques that were used before already from 2006 and onward where developed to a new level of complexity.

During the years the concept has been contineously developed.

(to be continued)


To see more Gigamaps:

To see very high res samples click here >>>>>

To see full screen overview go to the gallery >>>>>


Read more here:

GIGA-Mapping: Visualisation for complexity and systems thinking in design Birger Sevaldson Paper presented at NORDES 2011, 30th May 2011 follow this link to the full version >>>>>

Or read it below. 



Here is the paper.

Please site the NORDES confrence NORDES 2011, 30th May

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