The View from the Road by Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch and John R Myer

Car culture did have its possibilities and opportunities, though, but we didn’t exploit them to their fullest. The View from the Road is a remarkable prose poem, and also a study of the nature of storytelling, the way that narrative unfolds and develops and unifies. However, it is primarily – there’s no denying it – a thesis on highway design.

Appleyard, Lynch and Myer look at the way that the road is experienced by the motorist in terms of what makes it enjoyable and satisfying, as opposed to monotonous or jarring. They examine it as a drama, or a piece of music, with a view to teaching highway engineers how to consciously “write” that pleasure and satisfaction into their creations. Essentially they create a new narrative language for something we all experience – and, most remarkably of all, they propose a notation system for that language, as if a highway could be expressed like a piece of music.

(MIT Press, 1965)

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