ON LEAVING THE GROUND BEHIND: Essay for Protocol magazine

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Architecture has often been considered according to its ability to reach up and away from the earth, yet in contrast to its vehicular counterparts – which openly defy the constraints of gravity – remain connected to it. Often it is judged as “impressive” on account of its capacity to appear to defy such constraints. Failing to to achieve escape velocity, architecture seeks captive verticality instead. But that does not seem to stop this upwards surge feeling like anything less than a race to the top. […]

Thinking of de Certeau’s remark that “the desire to see the city precedes the means of satisfying it”, we’ve done so – but not in the way those architects who once chose the skyscraper as a tool to satisfying that need might have imagined. It used to be that to stand upon the desired object of the city, the ground, one had to forfeit the top-down, panoramic view of it. Not so anymore. Perhaps though, in our creating of a second, digital ground, the physical ground has lost some of its appeal – despite us having the best view of it that we’ve ever had.

Essay for Protocol magazine issue #8 on the theme of Boden/Ground, which I took as an invitation to quote Flatland and Einstürzende Neubauten whilst writing about gravity, the creation of a second, digital ground and the view of the city from a great height. With graphics by Lucas Liccini.

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