Essay Review – Semiology and the Urban. Roland Barthes.

‘This will kill that’; the thought means the book will kill the monument. In these terms the internet will kill the printed word. ‘The city is a discourse, this discourse is truly a language: the city speaks to its inhabitants, we speak to our city, the city where we are, simply by living in it, by wandering through it, by looking at it’. The language of the city can be considered in symbolism; every city has a centre or a solid nucleus, consisting of an empty focal point from which to organise the rest of the city. By viewing the city as a writing, then they who moves about the city becomes the reader. When the urban elements are explored it becomes apparent watercourses create legibility and cities without water face difficulties in adaptation, difficulties in life and coherence. ‘We construct, we make every city a little in the image of a ship, whose every piece was no longer the original piece but which still remained the ship, that is, a set of significations easily readable and recognisable’.



Book Review – Function & Sign: The Semiotics of Architecture. Umberto Eco

Sign vehicles, objects communicate there possible function through a recognised symbolism. The symbolic function of the home denotes shelter , but over time has begun to connote family, group, security and familiar surroundings. These relate to ‘primary functions’ and ‘secondary functions’. How can we advance these functions, to include work, food production etc. In the 19th century these functions or codes created an ideology that the ‘Gothic style = religiosity’, can this precedent be used to promote high density = diversity. Architectural codes can create ideologies for different types of urban fabric such as garden cities and new towns, but these codes offer ready made solutions which removes the field of freedom. Prescriptive codes in architecture only allow slight differences from the standardised message leading to a system of rules for giving society what it expects in the way of architecture, ‘ mass architecture’. But ‘architecture may also move in the direction of innovation and higher information content, going against existing rhetorical and ideological expectations’, however it can not move away from the codes entirely. To remove type out of its accepted typology, such as le Corbusier elevated streets, requires the examination of new social demands, existing needs, behavioral patterns of lifestyles and the modern city. This would inform the production of a meaningful system of future needs on the basis of which new functions and new architectural forms could be produced. To facilitate this the following would need to be identified:

  1. Series of social demands, considered as a system,
  2. System of functions that would satisfy the demands and that would become sign vehicles for demands,
  3. System of forms that would correspond to the functions that would become sign vehicles for functions.

The third point only relates to architectural form, to become a code they have to be coupled with systems outside architectural realm. The architect should be designing for variable primary functions (main meaning) and open secondary functions (suggestive meaning).

Lets Begin…..

Statement of Academic Intent

Technology is changing the way buildings function and people occupy space. Traditional typologies are evolving from mono functional spaces towards a set of entwined uses. There are different modes emerging from the proliferation of connectivity, new ways to engage with space means people are becoming participants rather than users. Overlapping traditional typologies can produce fresh approaches to spatial design. Examples of these scenarios are: corporate offices that are a blend of workshop and cellular space; high street banks with customer lounges and transaction facilities intermixed; student centres offering hot desking office space together with administration services.

The Future Library design competition brief will form the basis of my D4 design project. The challenge is to consider what the future of libraries will be in the digital age. Libraries have been at the heart of culture of centuries but changes to the way we access information conflicts with the tradition model. The aim is to propose a new architectural model that addresses the debate about the evolution of cultural spaces.