The making of the historic city map on Delft station ceiling

0  Concept

The assignment as formulated by Mecanoo architects was to develop a design for a Delft Blue coloured graphic on the ceiling of the new Delft train station.

The beautifully drawn historical map shows the city of Delft around the year 1876, clearly indicating the very first Delft train station as it was located very close to where the new station has now been constructed. It also shows the city canal that will be re-established along the Phoenix street, once the railway tunnel will be finished.

Seven steps in the designproces are shown below. Prior design research was undertaken at the Delft Blue plant « Porceleyne fles»   into the Delft Blue production process. Together with a search for suitable historical maps.

1  Delft


Delft, 1876, Bonneblad  459

+2  Schipluiden


Schipluiden, 1877, Bonneblad  480

=3  Delft and surroundings

The two maps seamlessly stitched together

4  Positioning the map on the ceiling 131111 plafondtekening-positie-blauw

The Delft Blue coloured map is correctly north oriented and shows the historical centre of Delft on the vaulted ceiling above the heads of the arriving travelers.

5  Separated typography

Since the map on the ceiling is being seen by travelers from below, any texts would become unreadable. It is therefore that all texts had to be removed from the map, a font had to be created, and texts had to be re-created and mirrored separately from the map. During production the mirrored texts were added again to the map.


The map without any texts


The newly created texts are shown in red

6  Design development with virtual reality model

Using a virtual reality model, the position of the map and texts has been optimized. For both viewing directions, the typography for Delft is placed in such a location that it is in the immediate field of view.

Delft-preview-1Seen from the by travelers entering the new train station from the city centre.


Seen from the south by travelers entering the station hall from the platforms. 

The virtual reality model assists in optimizing the design.

7   Production

Special software assists in fitting the graphical picture to the exact geometrical shapes of the straight and curved blinds. The lamellae are 20cm high by 7cm wide, and are placed 30cm apart. The software generated 3858 working drawings. This way, 30 million Delft Blue dots were printed on both sides of the 1929 straight and curved blinds. The historical map covers a footprint of approximately 7700 square meters.


One production drawing, marked in red, and its position on the lamellae ceiling.

The result

The station opened february 28th. Photos are published. Go and see it for yourself, enjoy beautiful Delft. Go by train and gaze at the ceiling on your way in to the city.


foto’s: Michael van Oosten


Snoep Games: software development and the virtual reality model

Yvon Alkemade:  image processing

Roy Tanck: advice and rendering

For more information about the architects: Mecanoo architecten

For more information about the preparation of the graph: MakeCover