Architecture and the Burdens of Linearity by Catherine Ingraham

Architecture and the Burdens of Linearity by Catherine Ingraham

Architecture and the Burdens of Linearity embrace the themes of ideal geometry, gender and spatiality, and stillness and motion in architecture. It takes the form of a reflective speculation on the nature of architecture and the architectural line.



In this suggestive inquiry into the operations of linearity in architectural theory and practice, Catherine Ingraham investigates the line as both a conceptual and literal force in architecture. She approaches her subject from philosophical, theoretical, practical, and historical points of view, finding the following points of convergence: architecture’s relation to property, politics, and economy; architecture’s relation to propriety and the need to keep things “in line”; and architecture’s relation to the proper name, human identity, object identity, and spatial location and demarcation.

In 1992, Catherine Ingraham wrote a short essay entitled The Burdens of Linearity for the Chicago Institute of Architecture and Urbanism. Six years later she published a book with the same name which brought back this essay under the chapter’s name: The Burdens of Linearity. Donkey Urbanism. The Donkey is, in fact, the recurrent animal in this book, he is the burden beast to whom Le Corbusier attributes the plan of all the pre-modern cities. According to the Swiss-French architect, the donkey by his zigzags’ tracks that takes the lines of least resistance, drew the lines of the city. Modernity, on the contrary, advocates for the pure and sane orthogonality that celebrates the fact that “Man has made up his mind“. Le Corbusier’s obsessive pathology for sanity is fully expressed here:

Architecture and the City have to constitute thaumaturgic machines in which health is no longer a mean to perpetuate life but rather celebrated as a self-justified end.

To the asserted “ruinous, difficult and dangerous curve of animality” by Le Corbusier, one can think of Deleuze’s Becoming Animal that celebrates the adherence to the counter-standard imposed by Modernity. In this matter, the anti-modern behavior by excellence is the Situationist drift (dérive) and the anti-modern architecture/urbanism is Constant’s immanent labyrinth constituted by the New Babylon, the city of humans who did not make up their minds.

In this book, her recount of Le Corbusier’s “mythopoetical account of the history of the city” and subtly promotes a “bestial urbanism” lead her to write her next book Architecture, Animal, Human: The Asymmetrical Condition in 2006.



Archilibs has a free fortnight reader. It comes out every other Sunday reviewing work through a featured word . . . plus a handful of top articles and visuals. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Submit your work

Archilibs has a gallery dedicated to you. Submit drawings, diagrams, sketches and all visual constructs. Images are encouraged to be unique, different, and experimental. The work can be hand drawn, collage, process work, diagrammatic, etc.
Submit directly Tumblr. Gallery or e-mail