The road can be seen as occupying a parallel reality
to that of the factory, in the sense not that it *is* a factory
anymore than it is an office or a piece of infrastructure
but that there is an inherent dichotomy in considering a project
as the refusal to and allure of resolving the combination of two incarnations
which supposedly always have to be separated from each other:
the material/immaterial, the physical/cultural, the utilitarian/beautiful.
In defiance of viewing these as irreconcilable binary values (either/or)
but in support of its remaining in separation up until there is
a combining agent (artist-scientist-architect) present at the draughtman’s loom
the road exists in two realms that slowly merge with the action of development
of an idea, and the representation (residue) of that action in the form
of drawings as well as writings, of buildings as well as concepts.
One can’t reject the former without, in principle, rejecting the latter.
It is therefore fitting that the road, as a linguistic entity, can represent
and have been representing, two different trajectories: the physical road
and the spiritual road. The former is inescapable, in industrialised as well as
developing countries, in all-pervasive, technocratic as well as tribal cultures:
civilisations grow out of roads, along roads, and fade into obscurity and ruin
when no roads lead to it, which is exemplified most poignantly in the image
of a pre-standardised road, that of the frayed path in the wilderness
of grass stomped down by feet carrying the (literal or abstract) prey
of hunting (meat or money): here a rule has been established
a rule of uncertainty, it is true, but still a rule: as long as there is
some sort of resource extracted, in separation of its place of utilisation
the road will mediate between the extremes of remoteness in the form
of the establishment of habit. The road is therefore
a consequence of need, and not solely a luxury of design.
As a spiritual pathway, the road has the curious
and more specific purpose of channelling aspirations of improvement
of “getting there”, “finding oneself”, “knowing the world.” In some cases
the road is both, as was the case of Kerouac, and in other cases, the connection
between actual action and mental development is implicit, as was the case
of the Tao Te Ching, in which the Tao was specifically
The Way, The Path, The Road, as much as
The One, The Whole, The Unnameable.
In considering the road from these two positions, I see myself
as reconciling the project of the office by including the road
both as metaphor and physicality, both as an attitude and a physical reality.
The road has something of a cult built around it. It is ground, in more senses than one
that is, ground for architecture, but it is also a figure in the ground of landscape
which, to wit, is the figure of our imagination. To speak of a “temple” is to think
of a dwelling, a form of positive space, while the implied “search” of the road thinks
of itself as negative space, undefined, and therefore full of potential (and danger).