Language and meaning in architecture

Language and meaning in architecture

Postby galte2000 » Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:09 pm

I am completing a thesis on language and meaning in architecture. Questioning whether the designer encodes for a specific textual community (i.e. other architects and theorists) rather than the general viewer (i.e. public).
If anyone has completed a similar thesis to this I would appreciate your advice and info on the subject area and what resources you used to obtain info?

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Postby garethace » Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:40 pm

My moto about architecture.... you can put it on my grave people. :)

Architects are very good at looking at the same project from many different angles, but are not very good at seeing many different projects from the same angle.

Because that requires a level of disipline, dedication and stubborness, which they simply do not have.

Engineers, encode things very careful to be read by other engineers, and only other engineers... any of their best creations, from bridges, bicycles to cars are embodiments of an engineering code, that is only understood by other engineers.

That the guy who invented the first arrow for instance, he probably wasted a lot of arrows before finding one which flew fastest and furthest, with the minimum of effort.

I.e. He probably looked at many different arrow designs from the same viewpoint - efficiency.

Having by chance fell upon an arrow that worked well, the lessons learnt were possibly encoded into some obscure guild or brotherhood of arrow-makers, in some kind of 'arrow-speak'.

I don't think this is the case in Architecture.... and personally I think that it is both the worst and the best for it.

The education I received in architecture was excellent because it showed me how to review the same design from many different points of view.

But it never once even suggested that I may do the inverse - to look at many different designs from the one consistent view point.

You could see how self-destructive an attitude that would be for any architect to take.

Once I remember, I was asked how did I choose a design for my site.... my reply was, I choose a design and went around looking for a site! :)

That kind of reply, is calculated to drive even the mildest natured architects, stark raving mad - and to become utterly disgusted with you!

Bungalows are a classic example of 'the engineering way of thinking'. I don't find it surprising that engineering ways of thinking have dominated the creation of the built environment in the last century, as everything else in our daily lives at this stage has also been engineered.

We have grown to rely heavily upon engineering and to trust it.

In conclusion, Architects have not got the ability to encode anything - if they did, we would have a set curriculum and body of knowledge, which we could pass on to young students of architecture in third level colleges all over the world.

You would be able to look at any design and talk at length about how many pistons it uses, how much air it needs to compress and fuel needs to be injected. Standard variables.

But instead, we have the exact opposite to that. I don't accept the fact that drawing is a code, as has been argued.... it is a means of representation used by all kinds of people besides architects - rather than being specific to architects themselves.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby ze lemon » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:51 pm

There are a few key text you probably have encountered, in case you have not they are.
How designers think by Bill Medway.
Words & Buildings by A Forthy.
the architect in practice by David Chappel
the words between the spaces By Thomas Markus
ze lemon
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Postby Euphon » Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:48 am

just correcting a typo:
Words and Buildings by Adrian Forty
I have the good fortune to have him as my lecturer!
Good luck with your thesis
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Postby garethace » Sat Mar 20, 2004 1:22 pm

Just to follow up on my previous point there, I think engineers are responsible for some very useful creations/designs which hope or achieve the seemingly impossible - that is, to furnish a lot of different problems with more or less the very same solution.

Example: Microsoft windows - same solution, used by a whole range of different people.

The important thing about my 'arrow-maker' in the first example, was to allow people to go into the 'arrow shop' in the middle ages, and be able to buy arrows, that conformed to a certain high standard, so when going hunting or into battle your arrows didn't drop into front of your own feet. :0

The important thing about 'engineering code' is that it must conform to a standard.... USB 2.0, RISC code, CISC code, Intel x86 instruction set, ATX chassis, AGP graphics, DPS Power supply, MS Windows compliant.... these are all computing standards..... which are painstakingly kept very, very clean through the establishment of standards, of bodies to maintain a keen and critical eye over all products produced 'claiming' to meet this particular standard.

You simply do not find 'designed for Windows XP' or 'Low fuel emission' stickers, stuck onto the outside of an architectural creation, but you sure as hell will look for them when buying any other large/small products. I think the bungalow, kinda introduced this notion of 'standards and compliance' into the house building industry.... houses became sort of like buying a fridge or TV.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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