Drink Water: Outbreak

So, I got my new brief and I’ve been given a theme ‘water’ to work on by picking a city of my choice. As I’m residing in London at the moment so its not unusual for me to start my brainstorming from the places around me. This is just for the kicks to start off the brief, I went for sight seeing in central london the other day and as you know a wandering mind finds what its looking for; I stumbled upon a street exhibition called ’ Museum of Water ’ so I went to check it out.

Interestingly, its a live artwork by Amy Sharrocks on the streets of SOHO.Here is a summery from the website for the event : www.museumofwater.co.uk How do you enjoy water?Do you swim in pools?Do you splash in puddles?Do you drink from a tap?Choose what water is most precious to you. Find a bottle to put it in. Tell us why you chose this water. We will keep it for you. Help us build a collection of water for future generations to enjoy.

What water will you keep? Museum of Water is a collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories. Accumulating over the course of a week in lit cabinets along the street, Museum of Water is an invitation to ponder our precious liquid and how we use it.

Most people contributed by bringing their special water in bottles of all shape and size.Not to my surprise some even brought bottle of their own piss! ( its still water)

And there was a Water bar too where you were provided with a clean fresh water bottle to drink. How cool is that? People don’t take their water seriously these days.

All of these are Inspired by the pioneering work of medical detective John Snow, who traced the source of a deadly cholera outbreak in 1850s London to a water pump in Soho, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Artakt have commissioned these live artworks as part of an exhibition celebrating his work and legacy.

John Snow (1813–1858) is considered the founder of modern epidemiology - the study of the patterns and causes of health and disease in populations. His work laid the foundations for better sanitation in the capital and still influences public health research and policy today. The exhibition, which runs from 13 March 2013 to 17 April 2013, is curated by Artakt, Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design.

To be honest I had now idea who John Snow was and after finding out what his contribution was to the medical industry its surprising not a lot of people know about him, I think its safe to relate to him as a graphic designer / medical detective as he used pictogram design to crack the cholera outbreak.

After doing a thorough research about the man behind this historic event I found out there is replica water pump in memorial of him in Broadwick street, located on the actual location of the original pump responsible for the deaths of 550 people within two weeks.

Its a great memorial piece and if you notice you’ll see there is no handle for the pump, its because this pump was responsible for the deaths of so many that the city decided to remove the handle so no one can actually drink from it.

After my presentation to my peers regarding my project brief i went to see another exhibition which was titled “CARTOGRAPHIES OF LIFE & DEATH - John Snow & Disease Mapping" in London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E7HT.

Here is a brief description of the exhibition from the

website http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2013/john_snow_event.html

" Historical treasures and newly commissioned artworks inspired by science will be found both in and around the School. Presented in the style of a disease mapping ‘detective’ trail, exhibition highlights will include a pop-up water-based cocktail bar, weekly street performances, and disease maps from the School’s archives showing how scientists have tracked disease outbreaks around the world from the early 1900s to the present day."

The only downside was that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of any of the objects presented. I’ve even spoken to a lady in charge of the show Vickie Bazalgette mentioning her that this is for a project brief that I’m working on John Snow.but as luck would have it its a no go but she did gave me her contact details and asked me to get in touch with her if there is a particular photo that I needed for the project; she will be willing to pull some photographs from their archives.

However, I’ve managed to get some photos from their facebook page below.


'After Snow's death in 1858, a final cholera outbreak hit areas of East London not yet connected to the new sewer system. The inhabitants there were forced to use drinking water contaminated with faeces of other Londoners which bought about the start of a new epidemic. This new evidence bolstered Snow's theory that the cholera agent was being transmitted through contaminated water and professional and public opinion was soon won over as indicated in this printed notice.'

Overall my experience there was amazing as I could see the actual objects right in front of my very eyes but couldn’t photograph anything yet get a lot of inspiration from them.

These are some of the posters used to spread the word out about Cholera.Its interesting to see that posters were used to inform people back in the days and I wonder now a days people have the time to read anything like this; the internet and the media informs us every step of the way.

After going through some brainstorming on how to approach this project I realize that there are several ways to do this. I could either collect data on recent waterborne outbreaks around the world and select a specific country mostly (third worlds) and workout the outbreak in specific.

I could possibly select a particular area and take the map to plot the outbreak similarly like John Snow did for SOHO outbreak.

Below is a pdf document I’ve found relating to waterborne diseases in US


Another link about the different kinds of water diseases,symptoms and prevention.


A very interesting read about estimated waterborne disease from



After going through all the research, I came to realize that I’m not much interested to repeat John Snow’s methodology, rather when I asked quite a hand of Londoners about John Snow they mostly got it confused with the Tv presenter! so it became apparent to me that not a lot of people know about John Snow and his marvellous gift to the medical science-

Therefor I’ll tell the story of John Snow and how he managed to end the horror of Thames River in an editor.So I quickly did a small mock up for the booklet to see how it would function.

Above are some initial concept designs for my version of John Snow’s map.In this version I tried to narrow it down to its bare minimum first by specifically selecting the infected area of the map and discarding the surrounding. Only concentrating on the water pumps responsible for the cholera deaths.When I say narrow I even got rid of the street names so the map looks more of an abstract design rathan than the actual map.

Anyone curious to know the locations of the outbreak can refer to the actual map john snow used , so this version of the map is purely aesthetics!

After working out the pagination and the artworks I did a small proof print to see how it all fits together and it came out really nice. Though its not in actual size but a pocket size version of it. I decided to stick to two colors and play around with the grid system in the copy text. Since the nature of waterborne diseases are invisible to the naked eye I kind of used that idea to hide the paragraphs inbetween the gaps from other paragraphs.And use two different colors on each so when you put on the optical enhancers you’ll be able to read the hidden copy as well.

At first I didn’t think much about the right typeface for the design that is something I work out right at the end of a project. I looked it up typefaces from the 1800s and found an interesting read on this website below


Then decided to go with ‘ROCKWELL’ for its contemporary looks and slab serif style, I think this typeface works well with the 1800s style where every poster used slab serif and broader line on type.

Here is the final outcome of the foldout booklet.

You can find the finished booklet in my 'Design' Section of this website.