//
archives

Architecture

This category contains 66 posts

What’s the point of symbols?

Symbols are getting a bad name. More precisely, symbols of bad things are gaining more airtime than symbols of good things — lately. Take for example walls. Last month Andrew Solomon wrote in the Guardian “Walls are concrete symbols of exclusion, and exclusion is seldom a diplomatic move.” There’s the prospect of a wall at Calais to curb … Continue reading

Whatever happened to architectural semiotics?

Few would deny that architecture communicates, and in that sense is a language, or at least like a language. As pointed out by the philosopher and semiotician Umberto Eco architecture does something else as well: it functions. So a substantial tiled roof not only communicates protection from the elements, but functions to provide such protection. Occasionally the two become … Continue reading

What’s wrong with postmodernism

Training and professional competence offer no immunity against casual and unguarded opinion. In spite of my training, like any novice, I’m keen to identify certain buildings as postmodern. Such structures are usually signalled by a triangular pediment somewhere, or an arch, semi-classical columns, axial symmetry, and they are of monumental scale, or out of scale. Such buildings are also … Continue reading

A sudden prospect

People pay a lot of money for a restaurant table, hotel room or apartment with a good view, but prospect has it’s most dramatic effect as part of a sequence. The geographer Jay Appleton (1919-2015) famously advocated that people prefer views, scenes, paintings, and by implication, landscapes, in which there’s an element of both prospect and of refuge. We are programmed biologically … Continue reading

Aha moments

Imagine walking along the pavement of an unfamiliar busy street. There’s heavy traffic, roadworks and people moving in all directions. Then you encounter an open gate, with green space beyond. You go through the gate and something else is revealed — a grand promenade, wide vista, perhaps a view to a stately villa now serving as a museum. … Continue reading

Frustration

“Frustration” is the watchword of those at sea with computers. Cumbersome fingers swiping across overly sensitive tablet screens shut down the mail app before the message is finished, windows appear or disappear as if at random, and there are all those irrelevant pop-up messages, obtuse instructions and uninvited features. The physical environment invokes similar frustrations. You know that the architecture of … Continue reading

Introducing hermeneutics to an architectural audience

Hermeneutics is of course simply the study of interpretation — what interpretation is, and how it works. But to study hermeneutics requires you to come to terms with the philosophies of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur. To gain entry into hermeneutical discourse the scholar needs to come to terms with a particular collection of books and essays (a … Continue reading

Interactive architecture

How interactive is architecture? These days, networked computer systems, tablets and smartphones seem to exemplify interactivity amongst people, and between human beings and objects. Perhaps architecture participates in this interactive milieu in so far as it embraces concepts such as “virtual reality (VR) and 3D worlds, game design (including 3D games, platform games, and arcade games), mobile computing, … Continue reading

Design hermeneutics revisited

What’s the difference between an artwork and a design? The worst insult you can give to a work of art is to ignore it. The worse thing you can do to a design is to treat it as a work of art — i.e. not to use it. This is an argument advanced by philosopher Nicholas … Continue reading

Brand melancholy

Who would want to brand their city as melancholic? I’ve just caught up with the Guardian’s city brand barometer. One of the parameters by which they measure brand success is “buzz”: “a combination of social media (Facebook likes and Twitter sentiment analysis) and media mentions.” They don’t measure melancholy, but if buzzing is frenetic activity, then it’s opposite is … Continue reading

University of Edinburgh logo

Richard on Facebook


Or "like" my Facebook
page for blog updates.

Try a one year research degree

Wooden specimens of Platonic solids in the background

AHRC/EPSRC/ESRC/MRC project

book cover
book cover

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 283 other followers

Site traffic

  • 157,422 page views