Henry Beck was a clever man.
A technical draughtsman (skilled at fiddly line drawings), he knocked up the original 'functional' tube map for Transport for London in his spare time. They didn't even ask him to do it - he just turned up to work at the Underground Signals Office one day with a map concept that would influence underground map designs the world over for generations to come.
But as the TfL's Underground, Overground and transport oddities (we're looking at you, Emirates Airline) grow to meet the capital's expanding population, Beck's much-altered original is creaking at the seams.
Mike Hall thinks he's come up with a workable replacement. A freelance illustrator with a keen eye for cartography, his idea is borne out of several years' worth of extra-curricular design experiments, much like Beck's.
"This is what the map could look like," writes Hall on his Behance page, "if the design task was given to a designer independent of TfL who started with a clean slate but followed the design rules set by Henry Beck in 1931, combined with changes to lines and station names that TfL could make in the near future.
"The design is based on the projected extent of the network in 2015 as envisaged by TfL; it was also inspired by the alternative designs by Max Roberts."
Click the map to enlarge it, then have a scan of the focused elements beneath. The Tubes need to get bigger just to fit one of these on the wall...
Rather than sticking with the current Tube line names (confusing for tourists, visitors and anyone who doesn't live in the capital), Hall has adopted the European system of numbering the lines, based loosely on which line opened first.
With a whole heap of new routes added to Liverpool Street, Hall has ditched the standard rectangle marker for interchanges for a much more flexible hollow circle. It's still a touch crowded, but it's the best solution we've seen.
The London Overground lines have now been given clear, distinguishable colours - hugely helpful for the half-cut journey home from East London after a few too many.
The scaling of Hall's map means that a huge amount of information on stations, transfers and lines can be squeezed into a limited space. Good luck finding Maida Vale if you don't know where to look.
Hall stresses that his design is hypothetical, and that you shouldn't try using it for travel. Here's hoping TfL consult him when a new map is finally required - we think he's on to something.
[Images: Mike Hall]