Means and Ends

Drawing a line on a sheet of paper — a wall in a plan — uncovers one of architecture’s most compelling traits.

On one hand, this line is a beginning. As soon as it is drawn, it taunts us to move it, change its shape, its length, its thickness…to make it do something better. A first line invariably provokes other lines that combine to create corners, rooms, and relationships, each of which will sponsor its own new lines, with all of these lines eventually adding up to architecture.

On the other hand, the moment it is placed on paper a first line will have already announced an end. It will have rearranged the space around it. It might have divided one space into two spaces. It might have done many things, but without fail it will have inscribed an outcome as soon as it is laid down. This single line too will have already resulted in architecture.

Perhaps nothing is more important, more central to architecture, than an our ability to exploit the double-state of our techniques, to know that a line is both a tool and the embodiment of an ever present, ever hopeful conclusion.