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Are We Too Linear? (The Case for Curves)

14-03-03/48 Curves are on my mind lately. First, when walking and biking I notice that straight roads with smooth surfaces are dangerous. Why? Here's how someone put it:

If you design roads like rifles, people drive like bullets.

(Does anyone have the reference? I couldn't find it. Kunstler?)

This got me thinking:

  • Curves are beautiful - they please the eye (why?) Maybe this is because:
  • Nature creates them (more than straight lines?)
  • (Specific application) Human bodies with curves are awesome. (On current cultural norms around beauty, check out Zaftig: The Case for Curves, via Adios Barbie.)
  • The architecture I've noticed (esp. new construction) doesn't seem to favor them (too expensive or complex?)
  • Curves are safer? Again, around roads, I remember reading about a European country that removed speed limit signs from country roads, and found that driving became (surprisingly!) safer. (Again, I can't find the reference to this. Anyone?)
  • It's time for old school analog controls to be back in vogue. Examples: The Star Trek TOS communicator and transporter controls, and the original Star Wars death star trigger were tactile and gave an indication of motion. Compare to the new Star Trek with its boring flat screens. OK, an exception: Minority Report's ultra cool gestural interface (video). Another example: Electro-Harmonix's classic stomp boxes.

I'm curious: What do you think?

(Image: Interior showing curved ebony wall in the open-plan living area and chrome girders, Tugendhat House, Brno, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1928-30; © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY)

Reader Comments (6)

Here in the UK our motorways are always built as a series of curves rather than straight lines. It's safer than the original German autobahns which are dead straight. Having driven on both UK, French and Belgian roads recently, the curves are easier - less boring.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

I'll bet it's pretty there. Thanks for your comment.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

I'll throw this in: On the slopes, ever try to turn a ski with no lateral sidecut? Pardon the pun but the most cutting-edge skis have a radical side cut...way easier to turn....

October 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hi. I like your blog. well done!

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersuplementy


October 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

I *think* I understand, Sam. :-)

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

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