Absurd trajectories: motorways and lived space

Gittens, Douglas (2012) Absurd trajectories: motorways and lived space. In: Theoretical Currents II: Architecture and its Geographical Horizons, 4-5 April 2012, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


North of Birmingham, Junction 6 of the M6 soars over the suburban terrain of Gravelly Hill, forming a potent symbol of modernity – a geography born of the abstract necessity for the rapid transmission of goods, services, and bodies from one location to the next.

Likewise, the A40 elevates over the suburbs of West London, mapping a trajectory arcing out to the Home Counties and West Country. These mega structures are not only powerful symbols of modernity, they are also a geography born of the abstraction of space (Lefebvre: 1991) by a society transfixed with the high-speed transmission and contraction of goods, services and bodies from one location to the next (Virilio: 1986).

However, leaving the detached, numbing effect of the vehicle behind, the exploration of these elevated roads exposes networks of rich and complex topographies shot through with alternative geographies and architectural narratives. Absurd pockets of differential space (Lefebvre: 1991) emerge underneath the A40 where art groups and travelling communities generate a richer, more lived experience of the leftover space beneath. Beside the elevated crash barrier of the M6, alien juxtapositions of suburban gardens and motorway blend to generate absurd topographical edge-lands (Farley and Roberts: 2011). Here, the absurd nature of produced space becomes ever apparent, as these are nursery grounds for the formation of absurd space.

Keywords:architecture, design, Geography (General), space, marginal, liminal, absurd
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:5943
Deposited On:05 Jul 2012 20:41

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