Desire lines

Architectural researcher David Gissen does not explicitly mention queerness; nonetheless in Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments, Gissen critiques modern architecture’s exclusions of a range of material and atmospheric conditions, such as the damp and the dirty, examples of objects that deviate from the architectural obsession to purify.  He writes of 19th-century grottos, faux caves that evoked a classical era frivolous and sultry use. Grottos are often hidden away from the public’s gaze, obscured by planting and location selection.  Burnham Beeches (the Great Gatsby-style mansion and garden) has a grotto embedded into a sloping terrain, and within are changing rooms for a natural swimming pool. This grotto was once a plaything for the rich and the famous but is now abandoned. In contrast, many grottos and rockeries in public parks still retain their salacious usage, lush cruising grounds for gay men to meet secretly.  Meandering Edna Walling style paths and basalt mossy and moist walls weave through Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne’s oldest cruising ground. The basalt takes on a different meaning here, to the cursed byproduct of land clearing and excavation.