Neighbor Builds Stunning 3D Topographical Map of Bernal Heights

Cardboard Bernal Hill, from the northeast. That's 101 on the far left.

3D Bernal Hill, from the northeast. That’s 101 on the far left.

Bernal Hill, from the northwest

3D Bernal Hill, from the northwest

A few weeks ago, Neighbor John from Lundys Lane invited your Bernalwood editor to see his latest project: A 3D topographical map of Bernal Heights, made entirely from sheets of cardboard.

It’s so cool! So incredible! So WOW! Bernalwood asked Neighbor John to tell us more about how he did it:

I started the project to create a three dimensional piece of art for my living room. I was inspired by some abstract landscape brass reliefs, and I’d been searching for an inspiring idea. Then I saw a very detailed Bernal topographic map, and knew I had my subject.

I was able to get a version of the data for the topographic map. The original data had lines for every 5 feet of elevation, which was too detailed, so I removed every other line to create a elevations for every 10 feet. This took a bit of time, but it was super cool to engage with the detailed topography of Bernal, especially since I run or walk on the hill almost every morning.

The next step was to decide on a material to use for each elevation layer. Through this process I met almost-Bernal neighbor Alex at Pagoda Arts. He convinced me that architectural chipboard would be relatively easy to work with, and it came in the right thickness so that the total height of the piece would be between four and five inches — three dimensional, but still hangable on a wall.

I created a file that Alex could use for his laser cutter, and he cut forty-five layers for me. I then glued them together using high quality tacky glue.

The gluing process was laborious and tense. The layers are very detailed, so positioning them precisely was required, all with fast-drying glue. But it was amazing to watch Bernal Heights grow from the top of my work bench. At the end I could hardly wait to get the next layers on.

We live on a beautiful hill, and it’s fun to see it from this perspective.

Here are a few more pics:

View from southeast

View from southeast

sutritositefromsouth

Sutrito Tower site on Bernal Hill, viewed from the south

Funny thing about these photos, of course, is that it’s hard to tell that it’s a physical object.  So here are a few more pics, with objects added to provide more depth and scale. Here’s a pair of glasses sitting on Cortland Avenue around Nevada Street:

carbernal.glasses

And here’s a Sharpie pen, roughly following the path of Gates Street:

cardbernal.sharpie

Amazing!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

4 thoughts on “Neighbor Builds Stunning 3D Topographical Map of Bernal Heights

  1. It is so beautiful. I wonder if it could be put on display for a while–perhaps at the Bernal library? I would love to see it in person.

  2. Nice work and I too would love to see this…. I once used the same excellent 5′ contour map you mentioned to build a 3d cardboard map of the chunk of Bernal Hill which contains Cortland Avenue. We live on quite a hill and it has gotten quite sculpted over the last 150 years.

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