Ingenious, eloquent and persuasive? Towards a critique of architecture as communication

Matthews, Geoff (2010) Ingenious, eloquent and persuasive? Towards a critique of architecture as communication. In: The Cultural Role of Architecture, 24-25 June 2010, University of lincoln.

Ingenious, eloquent and persuasive? Towards a Critique of Architecture as Communication
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The cultural role of architecture is viewed here in terms of the extent to which architecture participates in communicative processes. The rationale for this perspective is traced broadly through the lineage of Pragmatism culminating in the work of Rorty, which offers ‘social hope’; communication is ultimately directed toward human solidarity.

In this context the achievement of modernist architecture is at best ambivalent. The utopian quest for transparency and solidity in architectural form represented a turn against the scenographic dimension of urban design, the very dimension in which the narrative, the symbolic and the connotative are most readily expressed. Postmodern architecture, proponents of which often profess explicitly critical and communicative ambitions, fares no better. The deconstructive, double coded and contradictory tendencies in such work may support its criticality but often result in isolated statements as likely to confuse and frustrate its users as facilitate productive relations. The question arises, therefore, of how we are to make sense of the various strands of twentieth and early twenty-first century architecture.

This paper is speculative. It reviews a selection of research projects carried out by members of a postgraduate research group in the Lincoln School of Architecture in 2010. Six propositions concerning the relationship between architecture and communication were presented to the group in November 2009. Each project developed a critical response to one or more of these, with the intention of engaging in debate ultimately about the cultural role of architecture. In true Rortian style, the conclusions concern the trajectory of the conversation, the voices present and absent, and the contingency of theory, rather than any definitive agreement on any of the propositions, which are actually provocations.

Keywords:communication, Architectural theory
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:7076
Deposited On:10 Dec 2012 22:09

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