The Operative Line

The figure of the architect is that of the storyteller, looking always to write not what is there but the world as she wants it to exist.

Fundamental to this figure is the urge to fill in any empty space – whether the blank page, or the empty surface of the earth. A mark left on any blank surface is the rule of the architect’s will over physical reality.

The architect’s primary tool is the line, used not to represent but to project forward and score the future.

The score is the operative line and when it covers a surface at 1:1, it kills the sign. It allows for no interpretation but sets down static instructions for the future. Any line that is removed from the territory that it maps becomes merely representation. However when the architectural drawing scores the earth it is no longer representation but the work itself.

Through the translation of a drawing onto the earth’s surface, the architect is able to choreograph and manipulate natural, social, cultural and political forces in a similar way to movements in a playground or game field.

Like a work of fiction, the purpose of each architectural drawing is to create a context for a new narrative. Each time we put pen to paper we are redefining and delineating one possible version of the world that is coming into being. Every architectural drawing is a map of the future – an architect’s statement in linear form about a projected state of affairs.

I draw, therefore it exists.

The most fundamental architectural intentions are expressed through the scoring of a line – whether it is to define connections and separations, choreograph spatial relationships or speculate on future scenarios. The line is not an object or a singular moment but defines a force or creates a situation.

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