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Sue Barr

The Architecture of Transit

Mainly ignored within architectural discourse, motorways are megastructures in the landscape, crossing nations and international borders their calm regularity framing moments when architecture transcends function to become poetic.
Between the Alps and Naples motorways negotiate complex topographies and urban conditions, often retracing the routes taken by northern Romantics on the Grand Tour, who journeyed south to experience for themselves the Arcadian and later sublime landscapes painted by de Loutherbourg, Claude and Turner.
Where once these landscapes took days to cross we now speed through them via motorways elevated on concrete pilotis, and the galleries and tunnels that have taken the place of Alpine passes. For those on the Grand Tour, confronting the sublimity of an untamed nature became an aesthetic highlight of the journey. But with speed and concrete came a new accelerated sublime.
By rejecting the banal and desaturated aesthetic of contemporary landscape photography in favour of practices more comparable to portraiture – emphasising individual character through representation rather than record – it is these moments of beauty and sublimity in contemporary motorway architectures that these photographs seek to reveal.