The creation of a story map: Moulin Saint-Augustin, Oppède

Sketch of the entrance of Moulin Saint-Augustin

Estate map vs. story map

In the creation of the story map for the Moulin Saint-Augustin in Oppède Provence, I started by learning the history on what estate maps used to be.

Estate maps, also known as land maps or cadastral maps, have a long history dating back centuries. These maps were created to document and represent the boundaries, ownership, and characteristics of individual estates or parcels of land.

In my project I decided to start from the boundaries of the property and situate the different areas of interest within:

  • The central farmhouse
  • The canal and river Calavon
  • The olive groves
  • The old pigeon tower
  • The truffle oaks
  • The main road and entrance

During the Renaissance, estate maps became more sophisticated and artistic. They were often hand-drawn and decorated with intricate illustrations, showing not only the boundaries but also the topography, buildings, and landscapes of the estates.

By adding sketches of architectural details, like the canal system that brought the water from the Calavon river into the mill, the story grew.

When finally the owners obtained the official labels ‘Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional’ & ‘Agriculture Biologique’ the environmental features were added.

Starting from the idea of a classic estate map, the project grew from a factual map into a story map. This is the final result: (click to enlarge)

Moulin Saint-Augustin, Oppède, Provence

A hand drawn story map: a unique document

Hand drawn maps can add a unique artistic and personal touch that captures the essence of a place or tells a story in a way standardized maps can’t.
They can convey a sense of place, nostalgia, or creativity that appeals to people differently than digital maps. In addition, they allow a more flexible representation of complex or subjective information and can be adapted to specific needs or preferences.

The artistic, personal and customizable nature of hand drawn maps continues to captivate and offer unique perspectives on our environment.

In its implementation, an illustrated map can contain a wide variety of material: written anecdotes, architectural elements, illustrated fauna and flora, a timeline, etc.

The process

Together with the client, I put together the story that the personalized map will tell. In a first rough sketch, we place the selected elements in a layout. Incidentally, it is not uncommon for adjustments to be made during conception. The map is a living thing and the elements need to find their place. In appearance, these can be texts, drawings, photographs, engravings, or collages. The goal determines the means.

To achieve this, I like to use techniques derived from what is described as deep mapping. Deep mapping is a multidisciplinary approach that combines elements of geography, anthropology, history, ecology, and the arts to create a holistic representation of a particular place or landscape. Expensive words to say that I pull everything out of the box to make a portrait of your property that is as full of character as possible!

During the design, your property will be extensively visualized on the basis of drawings and sketches that are preferably made on site. That’s how I can capture the spirit of the place. The sketches are made in pencil or ink and are coloured by hand. For commercial projects, colouring is done on computer. Depending on preference, photos, or engravings can also be processed. The final map can be a unique-framed copy, or printed in a large edition.

If you are interested in working with me, please contact the map room via

2 responses to “The creation of a story map: Moulin Saint-Augustin, Oppède”

  1. Bonjour Ivan,

    J’ai été heureuse de vous rencontrer hier à Ménerbes, ainsi que votre épouse. Vous seriez les bienvenus chez nous pour prendre “un thé” un de ces jours. Mon mari n’est pas là jusqu’à Noël, et je pars à la mi-octobre, mais vous pourriez voir la maison, dont on aimerait éventuellement vous commander quelques dessins ou une “story map”!
    Luisella Simpson

    1. Hello Luisella,
      thank you for your kind words and comment. It would be our pleasure to visit you. I will send an e-mail with my contact details. We’re here until mid-October too. Kind regards, Ivan

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