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Architecture

This category contains 87 posts

The immoveable typist

Johannes Gutenberg’s (1400-1468) printing press allowed knowledge to accumulate — and contributed to the idea that knowledge accumulates. But there were other benefits as it released energies from the laborious task of copying and transcribing texts by hand and other cumbersome and unreliable processes for reproduction, such as woodblock printing. According to social geographer and … Continue reading

The memory wheel

By most accounts, at least in Europe, the Gutenberg printing press ushered in a revolution. Printing firms would deploy individual, durable typographic elements (letters and punctuation marks) manufactured in metal and arrange them in rows to produce a page of text, the inked imprint of which was transferred to sheets of paper, over and over … Continue reading

Architecture and espionage

The Spy Museum near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin features cumbersome cold-war surveillance and bugging devices, and retells the story of spying and secret communications dating back to Ancient Egypt. Architecture is always there as a stage setting for covert operations. After all, spies inhabit the shadows. I recall from previous reading that Odysseus disguised himself … Continue reading

Haze

I can search the photographs on my smartphone based on key words. I’ve activated automatic upload of all photos to iCloud. So, if I search on “haze,” I get all pictures that I’ve taken over the past 15 years that have a haze component. Unknown to me, some algorithm has been at work tagging my … Continue reading

What a mess!

Anyone with a sense of order can’t help but notice that problems frequently occur at the seams, where things join, or don’t join, or don’t quite align as they should — where the joins don’t survive successive adaptations. Sociologist Richard Sennett illustrated the demoralized state of crafters in the former Soviet Union. Once when shown … Continue reading

Fade to black: LiDAR in the age of extinction

Light and shade loom large in architecture, as in life. In his book, In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki admires the traditional Japanese house, “the beauty of which depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows — it has nothing else” (18). This subtle play of shadows delivers “a quality of mystery and … Continue reading

Rhematic architecture

For the non-linguist, the rheme is one of the most difficult concepts in semiotics. It is not in architecture’s lexicon, and it’s had to think of its relevance outside of language study. In fact, in material culture (e.g. architecture) we are more comfortable with the structure of metaphor than with the theme-rheme structure, as I … Continue reading

Indexical architecture

The idea of evidence is obviously important in a juridical context. Evidence comes to the fore when architects deal with compliance (codes and regulations), and get caught up in legal matters, such as contract disputes, liability and compensation claims, and as witnesses. Evidence is also important in any kind of research context, as in the … Continue reading

Signs in architecture and music

Architecture is an art of signs. C.S. Peirce introduced the idea of the sign vehicle, that encourages the architectural scholar to think beyond standard architectural elements as channels of communication. The communicative elements of a building are not restricted to components such as columns, chimneys, windows, staircases, and doors, but the aspects and qualities of … Continue reading

What’s wrong with iconic architecture

Described as “iconic, ambitious and sustainable,” the V&A in Dundee by Japanese architects Kengo Kuma & Associates will open September 2018. As I’ve been studying semiotics of late, in particular C.S. Peirce’s concepts of the icon, index and symbol, I can’t resist a brief reflection on the concept of the icon in architecture. See my last … Continue reading

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