Anne Carson writes: “The experience of Eros as lack alerts a person to the boundaries of himself, of other people, of things in general.”1 This notion of eros and boundaries, spurred an initial exploration into how a language of lack might be translated to architectural typology.
In seeking a boundary, we might think of a wall, a vertical structure that realises boundary and edge. A wall can divide, enclose, hide, and in its absence reveal. It can act as an obstacle, diverting movement around or over it, creating a temporal hindrance or resistance.
An opening can be a beginning, a milestone, an end. An opening can be a threshold, a marker of moving towards something. An opening denotes boundary and separation, yet momentarily, or infinitely, an opening connects the separation.
“A space must be maintained or desire ends”,2 writes Carson. Sappho's poem. written for a wedding, embodies in content and form the act of reaching – that is, reaching for something that cannot be grasped:
As a sweet apple turns red on a high branch,
high on the highest branch and the applepickers forgot—
well, no they didn't forget — were unable to reach
— Sappho, Fragment 105a
We see in the form of the bridge a suspension between two points; the first point that has been departed from, and the second point that is intended to be reached. When the bridge has been crossed, however, the second point is grasped, which means that the infinite nature of forever reaching is undone. To embody infinite reach, the bridge must include a feature where the second point is deliberately and unavoidably obstructed. The journey to point two, forever impeded. Here, an obstruction would function also to activate the structural component of of eros as lack, as one of three elements: lover, beloved, and that which comes between them. Says Carson, “They are three points of transformation on a circuit of possible relationship, electrified by desire so that they touch not touching. Conjoined they are held apart. The third component plays a paradoxical role for it both connects and separates, marking that two are not one, irradiating the absence whose presence is demanded by one.”3
Similarly, with stairs we see this sense of temporal suspension between two points of different elevation. But how to make this last infinitely? The stairs on their own embody suspension. Ramps too share a similarly suspending quality, but where in stairs there are pronounced steps that metrically step out rise and tread, the ramp is a sloping surface that does not prescribe step length, but pitch.