Category Archives: Theory Presentation- Semiotics

Semiotics 1- Architecture and its Interpretation: A Study of Expressive Systems in Architecture

The main idea to this reading is that the meaning of architecture lies in the interpretations of the individual. Meanings can be formulated from complex things such as cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs to smaller personal ideals such as upbringing and favorite color. These meanings and interpretations vary from person to person and are no longer controlled by the architect or architecture. After the design and construction process, the interpretation is in the individuals hands. But, just because the meaning lies within the individual does not mean that concept and the architects meaning should be disregarded.

Semiotics is a complex system of signals and indexes. Signals are deliberately produced for the purpose of communicating and also so that the interpreter knows that it is used to communicate. Indexes are not used purposefully to communicate an idea. They are preconceived ideas of signals. In addition to signals and indexes there are intentional indexes. They are signals that are not recognized by the interceptor. Pseudo-signals are the interpreters view of a signal, whether is actually is or not. All of these things combined make up the basic of semiotics.

This is important to architecture because at the end of the day, the concept you create as an architect many not be apparent to the people that view your work. The individual has the ability to see what they want within the work. It is still important to have a concept to drive the project through the design process, but it is important to realize that not everyone will see the project as the designer did upon creation. Design should encompass the concept as well as the user and the function of the building. This is something that we should all keep in mind as architects, as the interpretations that we perceive will rarely come true.

If one were to use the Stuckeman Family Building as an example, one thing the architect may have used as a concept is an open floor plan to allow for integration between fields and years as well as leaving everything exposed to be used as learning tools. In addition, one side of the facade is the classical Penn State look using brick and the other is cooper to push the boundaries as architecture often does. A student using the building may interpret part of this building as a view corridor that does not lead to a view that is worthy of such a strong condition. This interpretation could be categorized as an intentional index. Another interpretation that the student might make is that the open spaces are not always conducive to a traditional learning environment.

Overall this reading challenged our ability to analysis architecture writing. But upon further examination, the ideas hidden within this excerpt can apply to our education now as well as to our professional careers. Although this was a difficult reading to understand, we now have a greater understanding on how to interpret an architects concept or meaning of a built from whether intended or not.

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