Dead Ends. Continued.


Following on from my last post regarding the experience of dead ends, I thought it would be interesting to map out all other dead ends in the area that blocks vehicles and pedestrians from continuing on their journey. Surprisingly, there are many more blockades than I had realised. Many were simply buildings placed perpendicular to the street disallowing any form of continuation of a path. Others included an abrupt brick wall that lost any and all visual connection to the other side.

Intrigued, I thought it would be interesting to find out why dead ends are at all used if there is an emphasis on creating connections and bridging places which as architecture students seems to be taught and encouraged.

Historically speaking and well before the era of automotive vehicles, dead ends served as a defensive tactic used to create confusion for the attacker. Nowadays, these one way streets are implemented by city planners to effectively calm traffic.

Architecturally, dead ends are usually only suitable when the room in question needs full privacy and to prevent being used as a circulatory space. Removing the ability to simply close the door means the space could be disrupted with unwanted user activity.

In writing this post, I was reminded of a comical experience I encountered as a child where I had several pretty hard collisions with mirrors placed in a room meant to disorient the user. The mirror maze creates the illusion of a space much much larger than it actually is and quickly creates confusion with the room plan making finding the exit panickingly difficult.

A few peculiar ideas that have come from this exercise which may be interesting to further develop or implement into the project are;

  • Creating a full scale building where every internal space and surface is clad or coated in reflective mirrors. This is more of an experiment to see people ability to adapt to strange spaces and I assume encounter a frustratingly high amount of dead ends.
  • Creating a treasure hunt which places a physical item or workshop at each dead end around the city thus making dead ends somewhere to be the goal rather than something to avoid due to its inconvenience


Leon Battista Alberti, Ten Books on Architecture, 1485, ed. Joseph Rykwert (New York: Transatlantic Arts, 1966) Book IV, Ch. V. 75


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