The Meaning of Lines

By Laura Bonell and Daniel López-Dòriga

Charles Barry (1795-1860), Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852), Houses of Parliament, North wing, 1840. Black ink and brown wash on tracing paper mounted on (modern) backing sheet, 570 × 750 mm. DMC 1818.

A series of seemingly abstract lines occupy the whole space of the paper. Each of them is formed by a thin black line that defines the geometry, accompanied by a thicker, semi-transparent brown line, which highlights it. Written annotations are placed on top, sometimes following the drawing’s wavy shape like a calligram.

This superimposition of elements represents the profiles of mouldings for the new Houses of Parliament, in full size. Whether it is the detachment from the 1:1 scale – a result of viewing the drawing from a laptop screen – or the playful composition, we can imagine these lines representing many other things:

1. Corner details of the parterres of a Versaillesque garden, the lines constituting the perimeter between the lush green grass and the gravel-covered paths in which French aristocrats spend sunny afternoons.

2. The walls of a room covered in richly ornamented cabinetry, probably made from mahogany, all niches and alcoves.

3. A fragment of a Baroque church facade arising from the ground in polished stone, piling up street dust and autumn leaves.

4. Thin and long urban blocks, a deranged, swooping mix of the Royal Crescent, Bath, and the urbanism of Le Corbusier in Algiers, as seen by a post-modern architect.

5. A vision of the studies of the Sardegna coast by Alberto Ponis for one of his half-buried houses, signalling the geometry of the existing rocks.

6. The fortified walls of a medieval city with bastions of defense and round watchtowers; recesses and bulges contribute to the physical stability of the frontier and its impenetrability.

Laura Bonell and Daniel López-Doriga share the architecture studio Bonell+Dòriga, founded in Barcelona in 2014.

This text was submitted in the short form category (≤ 350 words) of the Drawing Matter Writing Prize 2020.