Desire lines – Jan-Dirk van der Burg


Human instinct chooses the shortest route to get from A to B. Urban designers and planners often decide differently. But why? In a book and an exhibition, the photographer Jan-Dirk van der Burg addressed the question as to why these paths of civil disobedience still abound in the Netherlands today.

The English term ‘desire line’ perhaps expresses it best: it is the route people long for. They are worn monuments of silent revolt, evidence of civil disobedience vis-à-vis the official route. A desire line is created due to mass resistance to the prescribed walking route. It requires a colossal quantity of footsteps in order to so erode the ground that the grass admits defeat. The book ‘Olifantenpaadjes’ (‘olifantenpad’, literally ‘elephants’ path’, is the Dutch term for a desire line) is an optimistic indictment of the innocent abuse of the landscape. The design is by Erik Kessels and there is a foreword by Maarten ‘t Hart.

The bookOlifantenpaadjes-Desire lines is currently sold out, but will be possibly reprinted.
Follow the project at www.olifantenpaadjes.nl.