Architecture as Symbol
Architecture Poetry Film

zaIn mankanI



The process of symbolization as applied to architecture Architecture
Walking Around Pablo Neruda Always for the First Time Andre Breton Bridges Arthur Rimbaud Pursuit Sylvia Plath A Winter Evening George Trakl


Film space Why film succeeds where architecture fails Meaning and non-meaning in film architecture Architecture as a communicator of idea in Brazil Architectural purity in Labyrinth Pre/Post Production



Sayem Ghayur without whose lateral assimilation of ideas. most sincerely indebted to my internal advisor. who helped to anchor my thoughts from the earliest. Sheba Akhtar. Owais Hasin. Mr. I would have concluded my dissertation otherwise. I must also thank all my friends. Mehdi Rizvi. for their valuable criticism and suggestions – in particular. Najeeb Umar and Mrs. whom I have turned to for help and guidance. specially Mr. and the deptt. I am also grateful to my external advisor and friend. To all other professors. . class of 2001 as a whole. I also extend my thanks. Mr.3 acknowledgement I am. of architecture. Faisal Butt. for numerous illuminating conversations. in the first place.

In all probability. This notice is: “SHELTER” or “TO LET”. I enter and plunge into an extraordinarily dark passageway. -Andre Breton (1896-1966).4 I’m spending the evening on a deserted street in the Grands-Augustins part of town when my attention is caught by a notice above a house door. . French poet and literary theorist Introduction I. this frustrating incompetence of the real world. The finished work never does justice to the original thought. of things that enter into reality that forms the basis. and the core of my paper. this paper will not be half as interesting as I had hoped it would be. for I can observe this phenomenon in just about everything that I do. Intrigued. and it is just this dilemma. in any case something no longer up to date. I can count on this. the beginning.

poetic in the idea. because it is a people’s art. The first problem has to do with the guidance of fiction. which are no more than the absence of the two factors named above. An idea is always limited by the means available for its representation. Architecture faces the same problem. and I shall touch upon it briefly here. or when one experiences architecture. because of two reasons. a process that is initiated in those not involved in the profession by the force of literature. but very rarely the same in its reality. Without the narrative of human experience. to have passion like Dostoevsky. an art form that is to be experienced. To be able to conceive well and not draw well is the architect’s purgatory. and for quite a few students in their senior years as well. The question that we are dealing with is one of limitations. a thing to be eulogized. architecture always appears . He does not have a form. and discuss it in detail later in connection with film. God is an idea. It is beautiful. because as an idea He can enjoy the stature.5 What is it about an idea that makes its exact representation impossible? In their junior years. A thing to be read about. or visions like Breton and not have their capacity for linguistic expression amounts to the same thing. a spirit. This image can not be upheld in the realm of the real world. or narrative for its strength and meaning. The ability to draw well is a much-coveted skill that for many remains unattainable and only as a distant dream. drawing is an indispensable tool. For a writer. An idea is greater than what it is responsible for producing or bringing into the world. one has the freedom of the imagination and the guidance of fiction to assist in the creation of a fulfilling image. can not be represented in formal terms. And one can imagine the combined pressure of these two oppressive incapacities on one who sets out to write a paper on architecture. An object that can be apprehended by the senses can not exert the same influence. For architecture students. Architecture is dependent on literature. the multiplicity of meaning that can only be afforded by a thing unseen. and one that has little weight on its own. the thing that causes the greatest anguish is the inability to draw what they conceive. the power. When one thinks about architecture.

are generally read and retained in the mind of the reader. is nevertheless composed and edited by individuals who have achieved a certain strength in the art form.6 incomplete. These books. All this amounts to the fact that what we encounter. It is in its position as a spectator of events that architecture can perform its best. and it is never without purpose. If such an occurrence does indeed manifest itself. not everyone who writes can get published. as opposed to real life. and I refer to fine literature here. This then is the context within which the reader of literature is presented with his architecture. it is impossible to find an event that does not coincide with the architecture in which it is taking place. and eventually accept as a representation of human experience. Therefore. but altogether unavoidable in the real thing. or rather the freedom to appropriate the event and the setting. conceived. that has passed the publisher’s careful criticism and managed to get published. and more importantly. Furthermore. What we call literature is what we read in books. and adds some romantic elements that help to strengthen it. represent only that section of matter written about human experience. Literature also has the power. This is because literature is necessarily contrived. In literature. lonely. It is well removed from reality. having no bearing on the work of fiction. because the polished writer extracts from his composition all those elements that may distract from the idea or weaken it. Furthermore. architecture that is read about. very obviously. represents that narrative in its most beautiful sense. Everyone can not write. planned. The text is hence a frame through which a selected and composed view may be seen. literature always presents architecture as a backdrop to a narrative. that though derived from real experiences. Literature. and which eventually finds its . only a percentage of these books make a significant impact on the public. one that necessarily excludes certain undesirable “realities”. This allocation of architecture as the set for the human drama is in accordance with its nature and essence. there is always enough justification for it. or more precisely. is a well-crafted and screened expression. an idea of architecture.


way into the collective imagination is always appropriate, well-composed, and in the service of individuals who have a significant story to reveal. A story that adds the necessary dimension to an architecture that may otherwise seem meaningless and without content. The second discontent with built architecture, with architecture that is realized, is that it imposes a certain restriction on the freedom of imagination, or one might say on the possibility of a multiplicity in interpretation. This particular problem, more than the first, shall form the basis of our argument in the paper that follows, and it is therefore important to discuss it in detail in this introduction. Architecture that is encountered in literature or art necessarily exists within a frame. We have observed above how this frame exerts itself in literature. How it is formed by the writer’s exclusion and inclusion of events and details and how it guides the reader’s perception of the architecture he encounters in the book. In truth, this frame also has two components, that is, it is a frame for two entities: space and time. Let us observe the mode by which these two entities are framed in

various forms of expression, beginning with literature. In a novel, the framing of space in terms of architecture is achieved through what the writer describes and what he leaves out in his description. For instance he may elaborate on the form of a staircase, the way it curved, how many floors it passed through, where in the house or palace it was situated, what manner of carvings could be found on the banister, and so on. But he may choose not to mention perhaps the width of the landings, or the fact that the door to the pantry opened under it or that there was a store there. These, and many other details, which may be unnecessary to the objective of the writer and therefore left ‘in the dark’, help to keep open the avenues along which the reader’s imagination may progress alone. In truth, no matter in what detail the author describes the setting of his novel, the picture is never complete in the mind of the reader and he is always free to arrange the separate elements proposed, in the order dictated by his own imagination. By saying that the picture is not complete, I do not mean to say that there is anything lacking in the image that is generated in the mind of the reader, but only this that this


image can never be the exact one proposed by the writer. Everything that the writer suggests is open to interpretation by the reader. If he says chair, the reader will imagine a chair but it will not be the same chair that the writer had imagined. Even if the object is described in great detail, there are elements and properties that can be played around with. If he suggests a color, say for instance, orange, the reader will paint his interpretation of orange on the object being portrayed. There are numerous variations of a color and it is possible that the color named by the writer, though it may be an appropriate name, may induce an incorrect or just a slightly variant image in the mind of the reader. For the sake of elaboration, let me quote a piece of text from the Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, where he describes the wretched abode of his main character:
“It was a tiny cupboard of a room about six paces in length. It had a poverty-stricken appearance with its dusty yellow paper peeling off the walls, and it was so lowpitched that a man of more than average height was ill at ease in it and felt every moment that he would knock his head against the ceiling. The furniture was in keeping with the room: there were three old chairs, rather rickety; a painted table in the corner on which lay a few manuscripts and

books; the dust that lay thick upon them showed that they had been long untouched. A big clumsy sofa occupied almost the whole of one wall and half the floor space of the room; it was once covered with chintz, but was now in rags and served Raskolnikov as a bed.” 1

This small passage serves to demonstrate the phenomenon we have been elaborating on so far. Raskolnikov’s room is described in fair detail in the above passage. One can not say that it is difficult to form an image of the space in one’s mind. In fact one will argue that there is sufficient information to believe that the fictional room created in the mind of the author has been more or less transplanted in the mind of the reader. There are certainly some indisputable characteristics about it. It is dirty, dusty, yellow, small, low, etc. And yet there are enough variables before us to say that no two readers will have exactly the same idea of the space occupied by Raskolnikov. For instance, how yellow is the yellow paper, and in what manner was it peeling off? What color was the painted table and how exactly were the manuscripts arranged on it? What was the pattern of the chintz on the sofa and how badly was it

Fyodor Dostoevsky, pg. 24, Crime and Punishment.


torn? Where was the door or the window? And so on. Often, it is possible that the object named by the writer or a certain term that he may mention, may be totally alien to the reader, and yet too familiar to the writer to warrant a careful description. Such instances are possible when the writer and reader belong to very different cultures and in such cases the reader may replace the object placed in the setting by one that he can comprehend, or take the particular term to mean something that he feels fits in with the context, and is a sufficient cover-up for his ignorance. It is indisputable that no two readers will ever have the same visual image of a text in their mind. It is therefore often a disappointment to see a film based on a novel. The film always manages to replace the image that we had formed in our mind, and if this new image is not satisfactory, it always leaves a bad taste in our mouth and we are irritated because we want to retrieve the image that existed in our minds prior to the viewing, but which is now lost forever. The second aspect of the frame is the time frame. In the novel, as in other art forms, this is clear and self-

evident. The narrative in the novel takes place over a certain time. The time period itself is unimportant in this context: it does not matter if the novel is set in the 13th century or in the 20th. What is important is that certain events are described whereas others are ignored. The novel can not keep the reader in the company of all the characters for every minute throughout the extent of the novel. It is therefore restricted to unfolding the narrative through a series of carefully picked events. In a few hundred pages, therefore, one can experience the entire life of a character, and all those intimate moments that are neglected by the writer may be formed over time in the reader’s mind. The events selected by the writer, are the elements of the time frame. The events he chooses to narrate allow him to add a certain drama to the life of the character. The writer is the editor of the lives of his creation. Through his manipulations, the mundane instances are weeded out and an ordinary life becomes a story worthy of being told to generations. The architecture that plays backdrop to such a narrative therefore acquires a certain sanctity, like a queen who only exposes herself to the public on occasion, so that they do not tire of waving to her.

is indeed the space frame of the work. The viewer of the work is therefore at liberty to imagine how this architecture proceeds once it steps out of his frame of view. and when you reach the end. and how it may appear from other angles. can be performed (in the mind of the reader) in a space suggested by the book. the doubleaspect frame is perhaps even more evident. It can not proceed according to the wish of Lewis Carrol’s King of Hearts when he says. These events. But the pose before or after. Film has a space frame that is dependent on the scope of the lens. Myron’s Discobolus expresses the moment just before the discus is thrown. The time frame of the painting is the moment captured by the artist. In physical terms. or the reaction at the performance of the discus are open to the viewer’s imagination. What happens outside this moment is again something that the viewer has the option to decide.10 The book also has a time frame in the sense that it begins at a certain point in time and ends at a certain point. and the camera can be manipulated so that a space is perceived as very different than it . For a painting. The architecture that is presented to the viewer within its bounds is one that is restricted by one point of view. The viewer can only see what the camera allows him to see. because film combines the virtues of the painting (or the photograph) and the novel. the literal frame that bounds the canvas.” The book leaves us with the freedom to create our own prebeginning and post-conclusion to the narrative. “Begin at the beginning. Fig1: Myron’s Discobolus The phenomenon of this dual frame is perhaps most interesting in the case of film. this can be seen as the dimension of the film itself and the composition framed within it. and by the physical limits of the canvas. and allow the reader to observe how this architecture performs against these free creations. additional to the text. A similar “moment” is often present in sculpture. stop. With reference to art.

which give it a time frame. or in literature. It can not impose a frame on the horizon or show itself only in parts. He is assisted in this task by the suggestion of the ending itself. naked. or art. that is to say. after the film has ended. he is left with the freedom to create the little events that will form the story after the end. and leave something for the imagination of the individual to explore. Architecture has no space frame in reality. It also has the space frame of the novel. It is wholly exposed. It has no time frame. so that a sequel becomes inevitable. Now perhaps it is finally clear where architecture begins to pose a certain dilemma for itself.11 may be in reality. that has been introduced into reality. A film also has a beginning and an end. It has the capacity to reveal a space to the viewer in little bits and pieces and the option to hold back parts of it. because it is always there. but even so a film or a series can only progress so far. II. how the lives of the characters will proceed from that point onwards. it needs to present only a selected number of events in order to unveil the story. In the end it will have to give in and surrender to the fate ascribed to it by the creative processes of the viewer’s mind. It has no device by which to hide itself. In this sense. forming the backdrop of our lives at every moment. The observer of the real knows that the thing in question is nothing greater than what he sees . is therefore no match for that which has remained in the mind. it can be seen completely. We can not choose what events it will be allowed to host and what will escape its grasp. It is the absence of the restrictive space and time frames that reduce the worth of architecture and drag it down to the status of an ordinary object imbued with all the mundanities of our bland existence. Architecture that has been built. experienced completely. Some films naturally lend themselves to such predictions. However. the film can edit the space so that only that aspect of it is presented which is important for the purpose of the film and which may strengthen the narrative. A viewer often decides for himself. Once it is realized.

thereby hiding them and sending them back the way they came . it no longer holds any interest or awe. unable to stand up against his wishes.88.to the realm of ideas. Once it has revealed itself. Perhaps this is the reason why architectural ruins command such admiration. that there is nothing more to it than what he has or can experience. and his integrity maintained by the mystery that surrounds him. and it is always more enriching to imagine than to experience. space would appear poetic. “It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality. its strength is diminished. Time erodes away their physicality. That which is revealed completely is necessarily reduced in stature. their comfort in his estate subject to his attentiveness.” 2 The poet who refuses to explain his work is aware of this danger. However. through the same principle. pg. and through a language of symbols that is always suggestive. Yimou refrains from ever showing his face. Architecture is reduced in worth by its very existence. pg. in the course of the film. if it only appeared in flashes like childhood memories. All other characters are seen as subordinate to him. fashioned completely.61 . The Poetics of Space Ibid. but never conclusive. It always communicates through abstracts. If only this could be applied to architecture. Symbolic or surrealist poetry has just this truth at the root of its charm. whose four wives assume no greater position than those of mere concubines. This knowledge is applied to film direction by Zhang Yimou in Raise the Red Lantern. If it had remained hidden. A religious text has to survive generations of interpretation and maintain its charm and awe through centuries if it is to have any sustainable impact and assist in the propagation of the faith.” 3 This is one reason that so much symbolism is to be found in the scriptures. it would have retained its awe. “To verify images kills them. With the result that the superiority of the character to the others is established.12 before him. all its wonders 2 3 Gaston Bachelard. which is the reality portrayed in the film. Once something has been completely understood and assimilated. Yimou’s lead male character is a rich Chinese lord. when architecture stands before us.

The Taj is the center for such ideas. one has the example of the Kaaba. visited every year by millions for the purpose of pilgrimage (Hajj). the kind they form into fixed reveries and mental images.2: The Taj Mahal In contrast. But architecture is not building. it is the history. and is merely building. as a monument that works contrary to what I had been suggesting for monuments more broadly. he feels. we are more often than not. and the romance that it carries with it. unable to see the thought that inspired it or the idea invested in it. disappointed. Islam’s holiest site. . This is undoubtedly because the Kaaba is a living monument – its narrative still intact after thousands of years. But it is also worth noting that the Kaaba is less “space” and more “experience”. In all this. he is therefore dismayed. It is not simply the form that is the wonder. Perhaps architecture is nothing more than this. The individual. with the same admiration that they took along. it means more than its material nature will ever testify to. who have been introduced to its narrative early on. and is firmly attached to them like a mother to a child.13 displayed. assumes that it lacks all these things. Owais Hasin for pointing out the example of the Kaaba. When he stands before the monument and sees only the monument. The two are rather 4 I am grateful to Mr. Very few people return from a monument like the Taj Mahal. Fig. the Taj Mahal is a symbol. For the people of the sub-continent it is a symbol of love. The kind of love that they dream about. 4 Thus architecture suffers from reality. This is because the Taj is more than what the building is. the narrative. It is one of the few examples where reality has served to enforce the idea rather than weaken it. Very few people return from Hajj without a sense of awe. It produces and propagates such thoughts. and all that he has associated with it was mere folly on his part. The dreamer can not imagine the architecture without its progeny. a royal love that people aspire to. To those who are aware of it.

The Postmodern architect. A Modern or Postmodern architect. and that such works as the cast-iron . who admires Gothic and Renaissance work. as conditions of its working the necessities and common uses of the building. he uses the word unnecessary. “and so I both feel myself unable to escape the influence of these prejudices. He infuses space rather than form with the “venerable and beautiful” in order to turn building into architecture.16. at once confine the name”. For him. for the work in these periods is very rich in that area. 6 Ibid. and one must keep them clearly separated in the mind. the notion of architecture as merely a product of the need for shelter is clearly “something no longer up to date”. and believe that my reader will be equally so. the question has been posed upon the function of the building. therefore. Ruskin thinks only so far as the form. therefore. which is an aspect of its space. and of some of our churches. says Ruskin of Architecture. it may be permitted to me to assume that true architecture does not admit iron as a constructive material. “Let us. But what sort of central spire of Rouen Cathedral. and elevational interventions. Without the unnecessary elements.” 5 Of course. having come through the battle waged by Modernism. creates the unnecessary within the building. but otherwise unnecessary. With this turnaround. asks the question: What is the function of architecture? Is architecture merely a shelter or does it have a purpose beyond that? For the postmodern. impresses on its form certain characteristics venerable or beautiful. and therefore speaks of surface treatment. and has not accepted the emergence of modern architecture 6. The Seven Lamps of Architecture. pg. also had a beneficial aspect: it forced man to step inside the building. or the iron roofs and pillars of our railway stations. are not architecture at all. will inevitably find the 5 unnecessary in the form.. taking up and admitting. architecture is reduced to building. “ to that art which. and therefore turn his attention to the space defined by the building.44.” John Ruskin. But. architecture is a means to other ends as well. But the disregard for the superficial devices. and this is really important.14 separate. pg. Ruskin understands that what makes architecture architecture is the unnecessary. that was a result of the apotheosis of Modernism. An architect who studies classical architecture.

And what we call art is undoubtedly without purpose. but its focus is rather the feeling function of the individual. but one of unnecessariness. That is why art is considered a luxury. When the idea is communicated. It has little to do with the intellect.15 end could be served by something that is useless? By something that has as its virtue. III. If a building performs well. and why is it not communicated? If we admit that we accept art to be great only when it moves us. The idea that moves is art. whether it makes sense. All that is “unnecessary” in architecture is art. merely the fact that it is beautiful? Freud says of Beauty that it “has no obvious use. which only perceives it. and is moved by the idea. nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it.” 7 Clearly. How can something move a human being? It has to have the power to communicate. Like poetry. but for us to revere it. When one observes great architecture. Whether one understands it or not. It expresses. . Civilization and its Discontents. the question is not one of beauty. it follows that that which moves us. we are in awe of the structure. Only then can an Sigmund Freud. that we are never really “touched” by its functionality. is not important. Yet civilization could not do without it. it is that which is useless. and when it is an idea that stirs our deepest emotions. What is the idea that moves. it has to do much more than that. Art. or thought that is behind the work. it communicates. One will also observe.19. we may praise it. But rarely is this achieved. with respect to architecture. We are considering the virtues of that which in the first analysis appears to be without purpose. one rarely thinks of the purpose that it serves. One is rather overwhelmed by its sheer beauty. But art does have some utility. in the broader sense is something to which architecture also belongs. to be pursued by those who have not the need to work. 7 Great art or architecture or poetry is that which moves the soul. unnecessary. it affects the emotions of all those who apprehend it. It is not considered work – because work always has a purpose at the end and results in useful things. pg. is art.

3-4. symbolic behavior is human behavior.16 individual perceive it. The Symbol. pg. Art is that which 8 C. and which has to do principally with human behavior. Four Archetypes: MotherRebirth-Spirit-Trickster. he can not respond to it. only when we understand the elements of its composition. . Art can communicate to anyone who has eyes to see. All human behavior originates in the use of symbols……All civilizations have been generated and perpetuated by the use of symbols……. therefore. art expresses ideas about human behavior. Language here is important. Only then can he accept it. Poetry only moves us when we understand the elements of the language it is written in. “I have chosen the term “collective” because this part of the unconscious is not individual but universal.22. They affect everyone. emotions. that is. If it does not communicate or does not communicate well. it has contents and modes of behavior that are more or less the same everywhere and in all individuals. which is universal. But whereas poetry is restricted by language. pg. Symbols belong to a field of knowledge that everyone can partake of.G. the visual arts are not confined by it. feelings.Jung. Symbols affect us even when we do not have any knowledge of them. All human behavior consists of. they predate knowledge. uses this universal language of symbols whose contents lie within the psyche of every human being.” 8 Art. which are at once absorbed by the psyche. Human behavior is symbolic behavior. the use of symbols. or is dependent upon. because it uses a language of symbols. are undoubtedly common to all individuals. It will not move him. The Science of Culture. Human activity. in contrast to the personal psyche. or in a language that is intelligible to him. apprehensions and all preoccupations that are essentially human. because they are products of the collective unconscious which permeates the psyche of every human being.” 9 Using the symbol as the communicator. We may not understand completely the content of the poem as it was conceived by the poet. In fact. “The symbol is the basic unit of all human behavior and civilization. human behavior. but we can have a semblance of it. The symbol is the universe of humanity. 9 Leslie White. or react to it. they are universal.

When Freud says that civilization can not do without the unnecessary. can rarely be translated into architectural reality. which throw our emotions. because buildings have an obligation to fulfill. Architectural reality has two main aspects to it. when we see how film transcends these limitations. Even architecture. Since the forming of symbols is characteristic of human 10 behavior. Ideas that are not concerned with the intellect. can not be represented in architectural reality. and communicates ideas in the form of symbols. our souls into imbalance. occupy others as well. or it is diluted by the reality.25. Art. the beautiful. humans inevitably form symbols of all that comes under their use. which do not achieve anything. .” 10 A thing becomes a symbol through use. The second has to do with the limitations due to functionality. Though the architectural idea. pg. ensure us that all those thoughts that concern us. we will look into in detail in the chapter on film. which can inhibit the representation of the idea. Ibid. They are important to humans because they put our emotions in equilibrium.. because of the specific nature of reality. with all its meaning. which are not useful. like art or poetry. in order to harmonize the soul. the limitations imposed by the laws of physics. which addresses human concerns. he means just this: that civilization can not do without it.17 communicates human ideas. that is. do not produce anything. and must be used by people for a considerable period of time. which is present in the architectural idea. one can observe this symbolic/emotional side of architecture in other forms of expression. that is. This value. Both these aspects. but still have worth. Architecture becomes a symbol. The first aspect is its dependence on physical limitations. The process of civilization results in certain discontents. What is a symbol? “A symbol may be defined as a thing the value or meaning of which is bestowed upon it by those who use it. deals with these discontents which are the products of civilization. and since the symbols they use are familiar. acquires symbolic value over time.

however. Poetry communicates through abstraction. through symbols.18 Poetry. We include it in the domain of our architectural experience – as architecture that we have been exposed to. which is present on the four-dimensional architectural thought. as is obvious by the title. In film we see architecture being used. often uses it as poetry. It therefore has the ability to convince us that an architecture can exist. can disregard it completely. because the architecture we see in film. and quite often the closest reality for the architectural idea in its undiluted form. At the start. can be in this form. It therefore uses its subjects only for their emotional content. More important than understanding the symbolism in architecture. and reveal the emotional or feeling value of architecture for all its worth. and suggest that it is greater than architectural reality. It relies on emotional contents and feeling values of things because it weighs and appropriates objects. It also aims at revealing the symbolic aspect of architecture. gets dispersed or lost in architectural reality. and counts on the reader’s ability to associate values. is to understand the architecture that is symbol. IV. when it represents architecture. We spend too much time trying to infuse architecture with meaning by the use of elements and not enough time in comprehending the meaning that . and architecture as symbol. though more often than not. But it is also a reality. as we will discuss. The dissertation. results in an incapacity to transmute value (which is what a symbol contains by virtue of its multiplicity of meaning and richness of content) to the user. This. let us make the distinction between symbols in architecture. because it too is an art and therefore “useless”. because it has no use for the functionality of architecture. and has no use for their functional utility. Film. it can represent architecture in all its four dimensions. But because it has narrative. This paper attempts to establish the importance of the architectural idea. It takes the architectural idea and turns it into reality within the virtual world suggested by the film. is concerned with the latter. enters our consciousness as nothing other than architecture. It too has no purpose for the functionality of architecture. It sets them side by side and draws parallels. being inhabited.

. The truth or existence of this emotional content is verified/demonstrated by poetry or other art forms where it is properly symbolized. Such a course of study if undertaken however. in the three points below: 1. Film uses the emotional content of architecture (or architecture as symbol) without compromising the absoluteness of the idea to the demands of functionality. Architecture has an emotional content present in the architecture as an idea. its inherent or attributed/attributable meaning (which makes it valid as symbol). 2. 3. which is diluted by the functionalization (or bringing into function) of the architecture. will result in a true understanding of the power of architecture. I have summarized the argument that we have undertaken in this introduction. and its effect on the psyche of the individual and collective user.19 architecture offers itself. and from which the following paper progresses.

20 1. the process of symbolization as applied to architecture .

before the many to come….21 What if we’re here just for saying: house. fountain. fruit tree. they too. at most: column. German poet . gate. after the many before. tower…but for saying. Isn’t this the sly purpose of the taciturn earth. understand. oh for such saying as the things themselves never hoped so intensely to be. jug. when it urges lovers on: that in their passion each single thing should find ecstasy? O Threshold: what must it mean for two lovers to have their own older threshold and be wearing down so lightly the ancient sill -. -Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). window.. bridge.

. we came across a definition for symbol. because in the local context. that it is the point at which people are expected to cross the road. the palm advertises the location of a palmist. It is little beyond what it literally means. “The sign is always less than the concept it represents. A sign. at the very start. however. it is essential to begin by understanding what is meant by symbol. However. and simple. And yet it will convey a cornucopia of meaning to one who is familiar with all its associations.” 11 Roadsigns are probably the best examples of signs. A zebra crossing. On the surface. according to which it may be seen as something upon which meaning is bestowed. In the introduction to this paper. that the meaning given to it is greater than the thing itself. modest. When used as a sign. Fig. Jung. 11 for instance. The palm is a particularly interesting example. one can observe its use as both sign and symbol.3: The palm as a sign Photo: Sayem Ghayur C. means nothing more than this. something like the cross in Christianity. which are more potent than the immediate impression of the image. while a symbol always stands for something more than its obvious and immediate meaning. or an amil (a witchdoctor).41. This is a very important aspect of a symbol. what it appears as on the surface. or the Palm in Shiite Islam. hold a number of associations.22 I. from what is referred to as sign. never goes very far with its meaning. The choice of the word “bestowed” itself suggests that the thing itself may not be worthy of the meaning. a symbol may be unassuming. In any dissertation that deals with symbolism. pg. Man and His Symbols.G. and to set it apart.

but is more directly linked with the Battle of Kerbala.. through his martyrdom. I use any such term as “state”. Seven can stand for the union of man and soul or matter and spirit. Its specific meaning is often dependent upon the context in which it appears. even among those who share the same cultural background”. or the seven planets. . and the victory of Hussain.23 But it is also a very strong symbol when seen in conjunction with the alam (a banner of war). such as the dome. the Seven Heavens. the number seven. But the phrase “more or less” makes my point. I assume that my listeners understand more or less the same thing as I do. More universally. it holds similar associations. This of course. it also becomes a dynamic and threatening symbol.28. which is how it manifests itself in a Shiite procession. This is perhaps clearer when we refer to numerical symbols like. in the symbolic representation of architectural elements. This strength. It can represent the Seven Vices and the Seven Virtues. As Jung explains: “When in conversation. A symbol is powerful because it can convey a multitude of things. representing the spirit of battle and the potential for extreme action (which is responsible for the negative associations people have with the Shiite sect). Its multiplicity is always within the range of a broad specific meaning. does not mean that a symbol means everything and nothing. It’s strength lies in its ability to carry a number of meanings. The multiplicity of meaning is what gives a symbol its strength. and unwillingness to surrender to worldly decadence as opposed to a religious and spiritual way of life. pg. It also represents rebellion against tyranny. “health”. or victory over death. a palm signifies martyrdom. for instance. Because of its juxtaposition with the banner of war. the seven days of the week. 12 A similar multiplicity can be seen also. or force. the seven tones of music. To a lot of people. “money”. In Shiism. is a derivative of the mystery and ambiguity (as we have discussed in the introduction) that may be found in any conscious or unconscious expression. and so on. and the power to impress upon the mind. or “society”. especially 12 Ibid. Each word means something slightly different to each person. It is evident that a symbol can have multiplicity of meanings.

. The Maison Citrohan was no more than the . but because of its associations to strength and integrity. Symbols are produced spontaneously and automatically. The meaning.S. they cannot be invented. for instance. When used in a Greek temple it suggests dedication to a male deity. one would only create a sign. But manufactured objects can acquire meaning and become symbols as well. and the power of pharaohs. When it marks an entrance. Quaid’s Mausoleums etc. It can represent spirituality. However. Columns have similar variation in meaning.24 in the local context. and their representations may be unearthed in every civilization. Paul’s etc. in order to turn it into a symbol.). For Corbusier. The Doric order has specifically masculine connotations. and it is dominating (the relationship is in the words). because there is no known origin for these ideas. The skyward pointing form can be seen in relation to the Pyramids. They are as old as the psyche itself. is not something concocted. which represent both the ascension of the spirit. the car symbolized the emerging spirit in art. The association of Mother with Matter and Father with Spirit.) and civic buildings (The U. It has different associations when it appears in different orders. Because of it’s upwards rising form it can represent aspiration. II. Capitol). as none will argue. The form is a derivative of the tree-trunk. Would one attempt this. therefore it represents power. But churches have domes too (Florence Cathedral. Peter’s. the dome is a sign for a mosque. which is what makes a symbol. Its functionality and aesthetic sensibility were therefore adopted in architectural design. and it therefore represents the tree.. or ascension towards heaven. Unlike signs. or it is suggested by the symbol itself through use. is either inherent in it (if it is an archaic symbol). it often appears in the facades of bank buildings. and so it can be taken to represent the religious type. One cannot consciously decide to give a particular meaning to an object or an image. It therefore has an ambiguous symbolism. But it can mean ‘support’ as in ‘the pillars of wisdom’ and it can represent strength. a dome can also be found over mausoleums (The Taj Mahal. St. St. it can represent the beginning of a journey.

which decides how much importance a person may attach to a thing or event and what it essentially means to him. is quick in “bestowing” this additional value to the things he uses. and bell-bottom trousers remind one of the sixties. or relating. Semiology and Architecture. a rational function. inevitably. together. now represent the music of that era. it appears. We are constantly associating. it is this ability (or rather compulsion) to weigh things. comes under the scrutiny of the feeling function.25 embodiment of the car symbol in the house.5: Corbusier’s Maison Citrohan Project 1927 Specs with colored lenses. Man. which makes us human. and has us in its grips. “We can…say that the minute a new form is invented it will acquire. a meaning. Meaning in Architecture.” 13 Fig. Everything that humans do or come into contact with or are exposed to.11. Fig. can possibly escape this scrutiny. have distinct associations to sado-masochistic attitudes. These objects. Chains and whips. like thinking. the sort worn and made popular by John Lennon. and associate a value to them. This is the occupation of the feeling function of the psyche. like so many others.4: an early Citroen In fact. with all its socio-political associations. which at all times surrounds us. and it is unreasonable to assume that architecture. when they appear 13 Charles Jencks. pg. have acquired their symbolic associations through use. .

received Into the bosom of the steady lake. in fact. and all art bear testimony to this fact. ll. Or it suggests another meaning to us. When we confront a phenomenon in conscious reality. there are certain unconscious impressions involved as well. in the hope of understanding the importance of this psychic process. It is an automatic process. The question that one must grapple with here. is: Why? Why do we form symbols? What is the compulsion or the need? III. Then sometimes. or of lengthy discourse that humans form symbols. with every conscious impression. 14 Jung properly explains the idea. When we associate an object with a meaning that is apart from its literal or superficial meaning. its rocks. v. as well. about a boy who stands by the still waters of a lake in the evenings and enjoys the response of the owls to his mimic whistling: and. And these may suddenly dawn on us.26 It is not a point of debate. in his poem Winander Lake. With all its solemn imagery. quickly assume an element of unconscious meaning that is physically significant for us. “Our conscious impressions. To a large extent. though we may not be consciously aware of this subliminal meaning or of the way in which it both extends 14 Prelude. In any case. when a lengthened pause Of silence came and baffled his best skill. or the visible scene Would enter unawares into his mind. this process is unconscious. Its woods. 364-88 . a gentle shock of mild surprise Has carried far into his heart the voice Of mountain torrents. in that silence while he hung Listening. Wordsworth points to these moments. The history of civilization. which ties it to other past individual or collective experiences. in a moment of quiet reflection or in our dreams. when he says. there is no conscious effort required. and that uncertain heaven. we observe and understand its superficial meaning. but we unconsciously become aware of its latent meaning.

27. When we associate one thing with another. and though this is a rather natural process.” 15 It is true. but he cannot know that this is called happiness. pg. Only humans are capable of coming up with phrases like “Happiness is a daily decision. and makes us exclaim. Sometimes. This expression seems to suggest that we lack the ability to live in the moment. we can understand it thus. Humans are capable of abstract thought. “c'est la vie”. how does one man explain such ideas to another man? One needs language. it is often a useful and indispensable tool.27 and confuses the conventional meaning. more modestly. nor can one represent it. undoubtedly. A dog may be happy 15 to see his master return home. Without language one cannot have abstract thought. But what sort of language is necessary? A sort that is written down. This inevitably happens when we tie one thing to another or. Naturally.” 16 We have the power to develop abstract concepts. to arrive at such ideas and to perpetuate them. which. such as happiness. and spoken? One that is itself made of abstractions? For what is the alphabet A or H or T. Perhaps. that in everything we do. certain mishaps that are a source of immense annoyance or a stroke of bad luck reminds us of similar events in the past. we symbolize. no animal could conceive. beauty. We developed abstract nouns.G. divinity. if not a sign by which we understand something else. associate. again. pinned up on a softboard at college serves to demonstrate that we can think of instinctual reactions as pertaining to the sphere of conscious activity. and have a habit of seeing events in relation to each other. What is that ultimate reality that Plato spoke of? What are ethics and why are they important? What is an Oedipus complex? What is existentialism? Can one explain these things to a non-human? Indeed. there is the possibility of seeing a more profound meaning. that we often see the “grander scheme of things” in the little coincidences that take place in our everyday lives. This phrase. Man and His Symbols. It is this faculty that ultimately sets us apart from the animal kingdom.Jung. . To him it is an instinctual feeling that never crosses the bounds of unconsciousness. as those fat books on philosophy will declare. written language is 16 C.

Man and His Symbols. how does one communicate that this is by virtue of an invisible force that pulls two objects together.” 18 It is however useful to our purpose to keep in mind then. who agreed that certain elements of architecture should mean certain things. the distinction is necessary to set idea apart from that which can be represented by a physical reality. pg. then one must accept the need (and also the existence) of collective language(s). When one talks about ideas that are collective (and there are undoubtedly ideas that are collective. Style. “There is a direct parallel to this in architecture. is oftentimes a barrier. But if an apple falls to the ground.Jung. . One can represent a rock. too. and understand. “Because there are an innumerable things beyond the range of human understanding. Of course this is true of any idea. was a social contract between people. we constantly use symbolic terms to represent concepts that we cannot define or fully comprehend. pg. however.G. Meaning in Architecture. These symbols group themselves together. 18 17 C. by a rock and an apple by an apple. Here then. that one cannot propagate an idea that is abstract. which used to be called style. that certain ideas can not be exchanged between two people who do not speak the same language. because language is like a secret pact between a number of individuals. Meaning into Architecture. that inhabit the realm of the collective psyche). and like language it also comprised a set of rules for the use of those elements in certain ways. without the use of language. However. we can read.28 composed of elements that are symbols. This must eventually be surmised in an equation. and because we have created them ourselves.51. via which these ideas can be expressed and communicated. and so forth.4. for ideas are abstract to begin with.” 17 Language itself. Geoffrey Broadbent. is the basis for a language that is universal. and can interpret them. It is evident then. the elements of which are symbols that represent things other than what they conventionally represent.

I assume that very few people would be unfamiliar with the idea that music is a universal language. On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry. points to the fact that they at least have the power to suggest these abstract ideas. a language of images (I don’t mean exclusively visual). and these should not be overlooked. 19 . A universal language. has the capacity to communicate universal ideas. if he or she has not lost the use of the sense in question. if one is judging by the sense of touch. Let us then investigate what this collective language could be. How much. pg. I do not know. The Spirit in Man. Now we have finally cornered the argument to the most significant C. There must be a mass of philosophical rhetoric written about the Mona Lisa. but it is something I can guess by my own experiences of the mandatory History of Art course. Undoubtedly. even abstract ones. nor have I bothered to look up. I stress the word receive because I am of the opinion that in certain cases a number of these impressions are contrived. any form of communication that relies on sensory experience. but simply the fact that we read so much into these images. music is a universal language. In fact.” 19 V.29 IV. However. One need not know a particular language.77. Anyone can be party to a sensory experience. Art and Literature. clichés usually hide great truths under the cover of profanity. or underestimated. It is universal. for instance. or belong to a cult in order to appreciate music. The term is almost used as a cliché for this form of expression.Jung.G. where a cornucopia of gibberish is poured over every slide. Everyone who has eyes to see has the capability to appreciate painting (unless a lot of intellectuality is infused into it). Sensory experience belongs to everyone. and not present in the original work. And suggestion is at least half the meaning itself. “Is “meaning” necessarily more than mere interpretation – an interpretation secreted into something by an intellect hungry for meaning. This is evident by the fact that we receive a number of complex impressions from even the simplest paintings. But I would say the same for all of the arts. or finely woven fabric. for as Jung says.

He should therefore remind himself that he is the caretaker of the other’s interest. one must have a language of symbols. we have arrived at two facts: firstly. the man of the house over his wife) should not consider himself to be so high and mighty. will not argue here. by performing an act that lowers him before the other. I will indulge in in chapter 2. melancholy. Now the question that ties the two facts together. one loses the value developed by observing it. that a symbol is that upon which a meaning. Those who are familiar with dream imagery (as I am sure everyone is). here I would like to give the example of a ritual to illustrate my point. Form the lengthy discourse that we have so far indulged in. higher meaning. on the wedding night. It is therefore necessary to invest an image with a special. religion etc. frustration. without feeling for a moment that they are trying to communicate something more than what they are conventionally expected to. One ritual which is sufficiently contextual to quote here. and so on. death. and the work will be meaningless and without value. and abstract ideas. that are constructed of representable elements. or who have ever considered and reflected upon rituals (where complex ideas are symbolized into acts). I have heard a handful of explanations for this little ceremony. and countless other ideas on life. other than its conventional meaning. that when one hears an explanation of the work. The dream imagery. is bestowed by the user. That abstract representations are symbolized need not be debated. For these. that a universal language (of images) is necessary to represent certain universal. fear. but the one I prefer has to do with the fact that Jesus used to wash the feet of his disciples. The complex idea inherent in the act is that he who is to be superior in the relationship (the prophet over his disciples. (It is another matter of course. but which are bestowed with meanings that go beyond their conventional meaning. latent. is the washing of the bride’s feet by the bridegroom. That forms can be bestowed with this special meaning is again obvious in the example of art.. and secondly. Feelings of nostalgia or the passion that one feels when one is in love cannot be represented by means of an image with specific meaning. . If one observes the works of Mondrian. and in our context.30 point. one will not be able to arrive anywhere. and forms the core of this chapter surfaces before us: Why do these representations of ideas have to be symbolized? 20 20 The question why can be answered thus: that there are abstract ideas that cannot be represented by an image if one allows the image to retain its conventional meaning. that incorporate abstracts like hope.

Yellow and Blue Or take any other abstract work. If one does not read between the lines. That there exists some abstract idea to which these forms allude. only to .31 But this in no way takes away from the fact that the abstract forms are capable of transmuting ideas that are special. so to speak. The question is this: Why and how is architecture symbolized? Clearly. is suggested by the mere fact that such abstract works are undertaken by artists. to mere whimsical and nonsensical scribble. one will greatly undermine it. point out that they do indeed exist. we have already answered the first half of it. The elements of architecture and the elements of architectural experience are inevitably sorted out and Fig. and why such works exist in the first place. It will be reduced then. cannot escape the axe. and that they are clear examples of the way man takes silent. it is human nature to symbolize the objects apprehended by the conscious mind. and separate from their conventional impressions). VI. Why is architecture symbolized? Because firstly. It is not my purpose to analyze what these paintings stand for. or whence they come from.6: Mondian’s Composition in Red. and which is the eventual aim of this dissertation: architecture. The last finally query that we shall address in this chapter has to do with the subject towards which we are gradually progressing. modest and impotent forms and bestows them with meaning in order to communicate ideas that are otherwise incommunicable. and secondly because man needs symbols for the representation of abstract concepts. He looks for symbols in everything that confronts him. which takes center stage among his experiences. and the second half has also been alluded to. and architecture.

one sees him or her cross the threshold. In the former case. As to the question how. such experiences always have a way of reminding us of other . and we have been rather frustrated in the process of trying to conquer it. In any case. When one is parting with a member of the household. one may reflect upon the real life situation of parting. at some point. Therefore. With reference to the contribution of the object’s particular characteristics towards the process of symbolization. The threshold can therefore embody a feeling.32 bestowed with special meanings. when he or she steps over the threshold. he has. a sort of association can be formed between the object and certain human emotions or human ideas that have to do with the life of the being. or has arrived. as a symbol. Two short examples will suffice to explain this point. In this manner. in the inverse case as well. The threshold is the point beyond which. It is unlikely that one may have never come across such a menace. that have nothing to do with their conventional positions in the context of what we conventionally refer to as architecture. of tread to riser is too odd. One can almost transfer the profound feeling that one experiences at that point onto the material reality of the threshold. contemplates the life-situation in which he is using it. Therefore it can just as easily be related to the joy of meeting. and it can hence communicate that feeling. in effect. When one is using an object. We may have uttered something like “Why is everything so difficult?”. and hence the sadness that accompanies it is tied with the threshold. and which one sees in aspects of real life. and it can therefore function. when the person steps. One is officially inside our house. perhaps. and thereby ties the object to the life situation and to the emotions that the situation may give rise to. there is something in the character of the object that one becomes aware of over time. it will do to take the example of a difficult staircase: one in which the ratio. I believe we all have. Otherwise. the meeting point between the outside and the inside. The threshold is. left us. this too we have partly answered by stating that all invented objects achieve symbolic value through use. however. so as to make traversing it difficult. People often stand in the doorway and gaze after a dear one who has just left. parting. one inevitably.

of the architectural idea. like any other idea. in its pure form. and review more specific examples of complex ideas that manifest themselves in architecture. . “Climbing this staircase is like…” something or the other. which are essential to our present discussion: 1. requires a symbolic language.33 frustrating events in our lives. it doesn’t matter what. in the process of three-dimensional representation. The fact is that being difficult is the characteristic of the particular staircase. cannot be represented without losing some of its vitality and worth. 2. which can be associated to a phenomenon in real life that escapes literal representation. We have so far been able to conclude the following things about architecture. It’s because we can relate one event to another that we come up with metaphors. That the representation of any abstract idea. We might say. The architectural idea. not representable in real terms. In the next chapter we will be considering what exactly is left behind.

but we cannot remember without her. architecture We may live without her.34 2. -John Ruskin (1819-1900). British writer and art critic (on Architecture) SARAH: (walks over to them) this was a dead end a minute ago B.RIGHT GAURD: no. and worship without her. what am I supposed to do? -Labyrinth Terry Jones and Laura Phillips . that's the dead end behind you (they both laugh) SARAH: (turns to look at it) it keeps changing.

require intellectual activity but they are nevertheless decisions – which always follow idea and are not encapsulated within it. the function. one does not weigh in one’s mind whether the space should be functional or not. The architectural idea. deals with the experience of space. which is the undulating factor that differentiates one design from another. the thought that is supreme is the experience of the space. one can say without hesitance. and of course the experience of the human user (which we will discuss in more detail in chapter 4). air. cannot be surmounted without compromise. It is understood that it must be so. Space is not conceived of in terms of its functionality. of course. The decisions that one takes in order to make a space functional do. is something that is connected with. proportions. Just because an idea is impractical will not keep one from arriving at it. When one imagines a space.35 I. and hence. a space that is open on all sides or one that is completely enclosed. this idea cannot preserve its purity when it is translated into reality because reality confronts it with certain hurdles. Architecture. but a pre-requisite and is therefore precluded from the original thought or idea. There is nothing inherently functional about a large space or a modest space. there would be no . as we understand it in its purest sense. In the process of conceptualization. one does so in terms of form. As we have stated before. which often if not always. color etc. When one is designing space. but not the functionality. a bright room or a dark room. or represents an experience. This nature is independent of functionality (or we can be braver and say that it is independent of reality). that functionality is not a concept. perhaps. If it were indeed so.. These attributes compose the nature of the space. Therefore. The question that we deal with in this chapter is: What is in the original idea that is diluted in the process of realization? We may approach this question by understanding what the architectural idea is and what it encapsulates. To say that the idea is independent of reality means that one can conceive of a space without regard to issues of practicality and functionality. therefore. light. Its functionality can only be seen in relation to the function that is to be performed there.

everything that communicates has to have a form. Therefore. It includes the experience of previous civilizations. That is the form of the idea. it is not necessary that it should be practical.36 debate on the issue. Practicality is something against which it is later measured. one can state clearly that for an idea to be conceived. from the experiences of our cavedwelling ancestors. light. Since the idea is that which communicates to the self. We regularly come up with ideas that in the final analysis appear to be unreasonable. that have filtered into the evolving collective unconscious. II. Individual recollections based on past experiences. the image is based upon the nature of space previously experienced. In the first case. an image. it is not possible to base the process of conceptualization. The idea appears as a vision. but also of the collective humanity that has preceded us. undeniably influence the ideas of the adult. (A) Prior experiences of an individual or collective nature. upon considerations of a functional nature. especially in childhood. But the truth is far from this. these recollections cannot be expected to incorporate an idea of what is functional or appropriate. and be composed of reminiscences of childhood experiences. one begins with it. And it can belong also to the individual experience. (B) Ideal notions of space. color. One does not arrive at an idea. etc. not simply of the society that one lives in. an analysis of the individual experience will be sufficient. The vision is generated by a complex of impressions based on: . and those of present civilizations. an image. or the ideating. However. One would assume that since the idea has been conceived. One would never have to analyze an original idea to see to what extent it is applicable to a real project. it too requires a form. for the following reasons: Furthermore. As we have discussed. This can belong to the collective experience. and will remain within the scope of this work. For our purpose. it is practical and applicable. The idea is not a conscious expression.

He is born with a sense of the platonic. is that the remnants of childhood experiences are. or space in the broader sense. Moreover. Poetics of Space . Therefore any idea regarding space that he has in adult life will inevitably incorporate some of the elements of this mal-appropriate space. There is no guarantee that the house one lived in as a child had no functional drawbacks whatsoever. their nature.14. the space being rather mal-designed. rather than in terms of details. He reduces all his encounters to the pure forms for which he has an inborn understanding. A circle is a circle to a child even if the line. because of its love for what is pure. often if not always.” 21 Thirdly. This may have to do with (iii) the child’s habit of simplifying things. The case may be quite the opposite. moving round.37 (i) (ii) Space experienced in the past may not be functionally sound. we would recapture the reflexes of the “first stairway”. and what is more important. “After twenty years. does not join itself. but forgets their impracticalities. those aspects that deal with events and experiences. One may have had 21 Gaston Bachelard pg. or even if it is not so much a circle as an ellipse. the space will have its influence upon the individual. in however a disguised form. The child is willing to forgive these little faults. events or experiences that have a retentive quality have little to do with the space in which they have taken place. and does not give due measure to the incongruities. it will affect his design sensibility. He therefore remembers spaces for their essence. and since it is the only significant architectural experience of the individual. Even so. we would not stumble on that rather high step. and thereby posing all sorts of difficulties for the users. in spite of all the other anonymous stairways.

one should say. However. but I believe that an alternative truth may be found in that phrase. pg. Apart from all this. the feelings that he will attach to the space will be amicable. One 22 Ibid.7&8: A wall pane that is nine feet high is three times as high for a child three feet tall. that these perceptions are not applicable to adult life. one is always surprised to see that what one imagined to be a very large space is actually quite a modest room. . there is always the fact that childhood perceptions of space are not accurate. The house where I spent my childhood may have been badly designed. This can be observed by the fact that when one visits one’s childhood residence. would be twisting Bachelard’s words if one were to quote him here as saying. “childhood is certainly greater than reality” 22. because of the nature of the experience.38 certain experience in one’s childhood that he remember with fondness. Therefore one can say that “experience” is also “space”. The same applies to floor planes. Fig. Or rather. but which transpired within a badly designed space. but only one and a half times as high for a six-foot adult. and he will want to repeat the space in later life out of love for the experience.16. but it still has a place in my heart and it still exerts an influence on my sense of space.

are also inborn. it may have seemed cold in the winter and hot in the summer. warm and cool. it often happens that the spaces we treasure from our past have an ambiguous nature. where we spent our childhood as larger than they actually were). pg. “In the past. the attic may have seemed small. from the condition of being a child to that of being an adult. we always feel that our ancestors lived in houses larger than ours. or we may remember them at once in a variety of states or in juxtaposition with other spaces that they were not actually in proximity with. however. it is hard to say through what syncretism the attic is at once small and large. Therefore. in memory recaptured through daydreams. Also. always comforting. These are archetypal realities that reside within the collective psyche and are 23 24 Ibid. They do not have to be learnt. but it is interesting to imagine that it could equally be a result of the fact that we remember our parent’s houses. and influences adult perception in a myriad of ways.100 Ibid. it is quite likely that many of the spaces we remember from the past may be an amalgamation of places we’ve experienced and places we’ve fancied. square or triangle is not lost upon them. Now. light.39 If one’s perception can differ in this simple respect (of dimensions). Change of scale changes a lot of things.10 . For instance. the meaning of a circle... color etc.. but rather are inherited. (This may very well be a fact.” 24 III. A child’s imagination is a powerful thing because the withdrawal from the unconscious (and into consciousness) is not complete. People therefore often stress on having larger rooms than they require. as Bachelard explains. Our “values alter facts” 23. or what one might again call platonics. then there is reason to suspect that it could differ in other aspects as well. Is this perhaps simply because they remember big from their childhood? There is also little guarantee that the spaces we inhabited in childhood are quite the way that we remember them. No matter how ignorant a man or how uncivilized a society may be. when having their own houses designed. pg. Ideal notions of space.


understood by all. They represent undeniable truths. We have observed in the nature of the child, that certain things have to be ignored, when face to face with real phenomena, to arrive at the ideal. When one is in love, he or she does not see the vices of the object of love. The one who is loved is idealized. That which is idealized is raised above us. It leaves the plane of humanly existence, and becomes something unfettered by mundane realities. It is no longer something real. It therefore need not possess all the characteristics of real things, or of reality. All of us have their personal vision of Paradise; an idealized environment based on notions of beauty and perfection that are raised from the real plane of existence, but no one wonders where they’ll put the sewerage lines, or in which of the many pools of water these will eventually end up. What is ideal therefore ignores certain aspects of the real. One’s lover is too perfect to be touched by the inadequacies that haunt real people. One’s ideal abode is too perfect to have to deal with issues of sewerage. Ideal notions always exclude mundanities and aspire

towards divinities. It is therefore unreasonable to expect ideas to enclose issues of functionality and practicality, which are essentially human and mundane concerns. We have concluded that functionality is not something that is present in the idea or the source of the idea. What is missing form the idea can therefore not be expected to be lost from it in the process of realization.

In processes of thinking, it is the form, not the function that is important. By processes of thinking, I mean all those processes that are involuntary, or in other words, which are responsible for the idea. As we have seen, the idea comes about through a bringing together of past recollections (individual or collective), or of ideal notions. Therefore, thinking processes are necessarily those that bring together. Poetry, which is a function of feeling, I nevertheless put down as a process of thinking, because of the symbolization (or bringing together) that takes place in its creation. The conception of space is to be seen as a


similar process, as also dreams and visions, which amalgamate our real or psychic experiences and express them in the symbolized or interconnected form. The form is that which communicates in the idea. We have discussed above that form is a component of the nature of a thing or space. What does form communicate? To answer this, we must analyze how we react to form, because reaction confirms communication. The nature of the space, we said, was the undulating factor that differentiated one design from another. We can now elaborate on this point by saying that two buildings can have the same function, and yet have different form. The design changes when the form, that is the planning, the proportional allocation of spaces, the material of construction etc., changes. The form produces an effect in us. We look at a building and react, either positively or negatively. Often, of course, it refuses to communicate and we do not respond to it. When it does communicate, our interface with a building produces an emotion in us. This emotion or feeling helps us to appreciate the building. It helps to convey the idea behind the

architecture. When it does not communicate, we say that the architect has designed without thinking, because we cannot perceive the thinking process behind the form. The emotional vibes that are relayed by form are best experienced when we come face to face with great art, which as we had earlier concluded, is without purpose, and therefore all form and no function. The importance or value of art lies in the fact that it moves us; it arouses emotions in us. It communicates by way of emotions. When we apprehend art, we try to arrive at the idea behind the work by means of what the form expresses. We can do only this with art, in the absence of function, and therefore we can write volumes for what it might mean or stand for. Hence we can say that the idea incorporates emotion or feeling, and that this is the resource that is diminished when the idea comes forth into reality. This is of course not to say that built architecture does not have the capacity to communicate idea. There are numerous examples of buildings that embody, or even are as though entirely idea.


Fig.10: Bramante’s Tempietto of San Pietro Fig.9: The Pantheon

The Pantheon is one such example. It embodies the idea of a pure, spherical space. It is a spatial idea, just as is the idea of the central plan, embodied perfectly in Bramante’s Tempietto. One will observe however, that both these buildings make no stringent functional demands.

It also appears to be generally easier to encapsulate an idea in a religious building. Perhaps this is because, the religious building type involves one simple function, as opposed to the complexity of functions that may be found in a house or a civic building. Hence, one finds numerous such examples in churches (the whole of Gothic architecture and the strong spiritual idea of the age is to be found in this building type) and Le Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp strongly evokes the idea of the ark as savior.

because it demonstrates what architecture is. Fig. it is possible to realize it. The pompidou centre is however not a practical building. for the Modern car-toting citizen. If one were to go always by what is most feasible or practical. the idea could not be taken to the extreme. that is communicated Philip Johnson’s Glass House also strikes me as almost entirely an idea – demonstrating a mode of living inside a transparent container. in a way. an enthusiastic glorification of a new-found building material. Centre Culturel d’ Art Georges Pompidou Fig. Corbu’s Villa Savoye is also often quoted as an example of an idea of architecture. When the idea is something that does not conflict with reality.12: Interior of Villa Savoye – car sensibility A post-modern building that I find worth mentioning here is the Pompidou Center.43 Fig.13: Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. and the permeability of the house is obstructed by the . It’s maintainance is much higher than any building with its services concealed. It represents a clear idea – the inversion of outside/inside.11: Corbusier’s Chapel at Ronchamp in the built form without much compromise. It is. And yet. many important architectural ideas would never see the light of day.

in his Sigmund Freud.471. so as to understand how the idea and its emotion is embodied in architectural form. We should therefore look at examples where architecture appears free of reality. or. For Freud. – Smooth walls over which the dreamer climbs.44 bathroom. . That is to say that architecture is here symbolized. 26 Ibid. pg. which is in sharp contrast to the more flexible and inclusive method of interpretation advocated by Jung. and we may discuss this briefly here. exists in order to communicate. ladders or staircases. This is perhaps the most apt example of the way in which reality modifies an idea. as the case may be. analyses however. and that this meaning is different from the conventional meaning that we ascribe to these objects or elements. His method of analysis. walking up or down them. are representations of the sexual act. was wont to ascribe certain specific meanings to elements observed in the dream.14: Philip Johnson’s Glass House V. and therefore the dream space. pg. Fig. down which he lowers himself – often in great anxiety – correspond to erect human bodies” 25 “A dream of going through a suite of rooms is a brothel or harem dream. But an equally important example also lies in the architecture of dreams. The Interpretation of Dreams. the facades of houses. the symbolism was almost invariably sexual: “Steps. where we hope to establish that architectural elements observed in dreams can mean something. One important example of this is of course to be found in films and we will in due course analyze the nature of film. The dream.472. This fact has been known for ages. is nevertheless very useful for our present discussion..” 26 25 There is a lot to learn from architecture that has not been concretized. Freud.

30 Ibid. pg.. of not being able to get something done. Ibid. pg. pg. “The human body as a whole is pictured by the dream-imagination as a house and the separate organs of the body by portions of a house. “One day I had been trying to discover what might be the meaning of the feelings of being inhibited. 677-678.320. and therefore cannot be expressed by direct representation. is the discovery that architectural elements or experiences can.. 29 Cf. according to Freud.223-226.” 30 Here the feeling of being unable to move on. is expressed by being symbolized in the inability to progress up a flight of stairs. for which architectural elements as well as other means of disguise may be required. every gateway stands for one of the bodily orifices (a ‘hole’)” 27 It is probably disheartening to see architecture fall from grace to such depths. of being glued to the spot. which occur so often in dreams and are so closely akin to feelings of anxiety. Suddenly I saw a maidservant coming down the stairs – coming towards me. that is. pg. can not be represented in an image. More important than the specificity of the symbolism. at least in some sphere.. I was going up three steps at a time and was delighted at my agility. I felt ashamed and tried to hurry. 27 28 This.45 “pillars and columns represent the legs…. the dream may also use architectural experience to represent certain conditions or states of being which do not have any tangible physical form. being an abstract reality.462.335-6. however. Ibid. which. by a psychical censor 29.” 28 Apart from references of a sexual nature. 493-498. But there is undoubtedly some measure of truth in these analogies. represent ideas other than what we consciously hold them to. ... and at this point the feeling of being inhibited set in: I was glued to the steps and unable to budge from the spot. can be demonstrated by one of Freud’s personal dreams given below. rather important point. Ibid. That night I had the following dream: I was very incompletely dressed and was going upstairs from a flat on the ground floor to a higher storey. and so on.

the way the narrative of the dream does.46 In like manner other architectural experiences also have the potential to express abstract ideas. they are no longer as malleable. . nor can they be bounded to a specific narrative that would assist the expression. but they are unable to exercise this power in the real world because. once they are realized.

under a light which shakes off torpor.47 3. It unveils. Poetry and Architecture -John Ruskin (1819-1900). filmmaker.S. essayist. poetry there are but two strong conquerors of the forgetfulness of men. U. Only poetry inspires poetry. -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82). philosopher. French author. -Jean Cocteau (1889–1963). poet. It lays bare. . the surprising things which surround us and which our senses record mechanically. British writer and art critic Such is the role of poetry. in the strict sense of the word.

pg. the guiding inspiration is present in both processes of creation. in such manner that in the first case “the poet appears to be the creative C. One can argue here that poetry. and although “it might well be that the poet.. The poet’s conviction that he is creating in absolute freedom would then be an illusion: he fancies he is swimming. On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry. Art and Literature. which permeates the psyche of every individual and inspires or communicates by means of a symbolic language. This is indeed true. “The introverted attitude is characterized by the subject’s assertion of his conscious intentions and aims against the demands of the object. although this is manifestly the voice of his own self. we had placed poetry into the casket of thinking processes. Jung. .73.” 31 The object referred to here is the work of art.48 I. and to create of his own free will without the slightest feeling of compulsion”. whereas in the latter case he only “comes into the picture as a reacting subject”. with respect to our argument. and the two attitudes differ from each other. whereas the extraverted attitude is characterized by the subject’s subordination to the demands which the object makes upon him. for which we had also a ventured a definition. According to the definition. is nevertheless so carried away by the creative impulse that he is no longer aware of an “alien” will. the thinking process is guided by an a priori which cannot be arrived at. 31 process itself.Jung. pg. 32 However.” 33 This unseen guiding principle is the collective unconscious. in a discourse on art and literature recognizes two modes of creation.74. but which presents itself to consciousness of its own accord.G. but in reality an unseen current sweeps him along. like other forms of art. In the last chapter. just as the other type of poet is no longer aware of his own will speaking to him in the apparently “alien” inspiration. Ibid. can be created by an act of will that is independent of any a priori principle or inspiration. 32 33 Ibid. while apparently creating out of himself and producing what he consciously intends. The Spirit in Man.

ploughs. rifles. We saw also in the last chapter. Thought by Martin Heidegger. so that they may be judged and valued by the psyche of the reader. sets things side by side. pg. may clearly be recognized as descriptions of the genitals. may be taken from architectural elements or experiences. may use whatever symbolism is best to convey the abstract and nonrepresentable meaning that it carries. The Interpretation of Dreams. and of men and other beings in the world. It is reasonable to suppose then. and in fact it must appear as obvious to a 35 Albert Hofstadter. The same phenomenon is also observable in dream imagery. Freud. which have no language and uses his power over language to dress them.473. It calls for a complete opening of the human spirit – what otherwise gets fragmented into intellect. It juxtaposes. especially any containing bridges or wooded hills. by the use of symbols and imagery. as far as dreams go. as we stated earlier. a recalling.In the same way many landscapes in dreams. when it appears to the 34 poet in the form of the inspiration. The work. etc. remembering. and may subordinate any object or experience for its purpose of communication. revolvers. “Heidegger’s thinking. and responding to an original call coming from the central living presencing of the being of the world. A number of objects may appear as references for the same thing: “…all weapons and tools are used as symbols for the male organ: e. Denken. that this symbolism. The poet heeds the call and produces in the language of the call he has received. . Introduction to Poetry. daggers. in the way that Heidegger defines thinking. Language. . This judging and weighing is. It is a thinking process.g. will. heart. carried out by the feeling function of the psyche. and senses – to the ever present possibilities of the truth of being…” 34 This response to a call is at the basis of every creative (thinking) process. is a re-thinking. hammers. It may take the symbolism from any phenomenon that is familiar to the poet. sabers. Andenken. memorializing. the very fact that Freud saw references to sexual repression in just about every dream image is evidence of the fact that a variety of symbols may be used to represent a single idea.49 Poetry. brings together. He takes the symbols.” 35 Indeed. which is why we say that we feel something when we read poetry.

Once. as the safeguard of our memories. Here. in which we commonly confront it. and we may even be able to see it eventually as more than an occupation with purely functional aims. They are descriptive rather than communicative. They do not make the poem. Where architecture appears as a symbol. not its content. By analyzing the use of architecture as symbol in poetry. It is only in its capacity for association that it is put to the task of generating a response in the reader. and assume a higher existence. We can begin to appreciate the associations that we. or see in it the beauty of the dialogue that man perpetually indulges in with himself. In poetry we can find architecture employed for its symbolic or feeling value. but reside in it. to take up for analysis only those works where architecture appears in its symbolized form. one can see it embodying the poetical idea clearly. in our capacity as symbol-makers. as Ruskin does. In the examples that follow. There are of course a great many instances in poetry where architecture has been referred to. we can begin to understand the meaning that can reside within a work of architecture. but the majority of these references are of a physical/descriptive nature. I have been careful with my choice of poetry. and shows us how it can transcend its worldly state. we might see its other aspects. It is one with the poem. These form the body of the poetry. there is no place for functionality. It can give us a better idea of the true worth of this art. The essence of the poem is radiating in the image. bestow upon the built environment that we interact with every day of our lives. perhaps recognize it. the architecture that we encounter either refers to an idea by association. or is in itself simply a creation in support of an idea. In either case it reveals its associative power. again. . it communicates at the microcosmic level what the poem communicates in its entirety.50 poetry reader. that the same is applicable to poetry. our focus shifts from its obvious providence. The fact that poetry uses architecture as a symbol to communicate ideas makes it useful for our present discussion.

Still it would be marvelous to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily. no elevators. I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark. going on down. no more goods. The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.51 Walking Around Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Translated from the Spanish by Robert Bly It so happens I am sick of being a man. into the moist guts of the earth. taking in and thinking. no spectacles. waterproof. It so happens I am sick of being a man. like a swan made of felt steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes. And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses dried up. shivering with sleep. no gardens. It so happens I am sick of my feet and my nails and my hair and my shadow. It would be great to go through the streets with a green knife letting out yells until I died of the cold. . stretched out. insecure. eating every day. or kill a nun with a blow on the ear. The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs. The only thing I want is to see no more stores.

and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin. I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb. into shoeshops that smell like vinegar. and hideous intestines hanging over the doors of houses that I hate. and courtyards with washing hanging from the line: underwear. I walk by.52 I don’t want so much misery. into some moist houses. half frozen. and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot. . and venoms. a warehouse with corpses. my rage. blazes up like gasoline. and umbilical cords. going through office buildings and orthopedic shops. and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel. when it sees me coming with my convict face. into hospitals where the bones fly out the window. there are mirrors that ought to have wept from shame and terror. That’s why Monday. towels and shirts from which slow dirty tears are falling. my shoes. and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night. There are sulphur-colored birds. And it pushes me into certain corners. I stroll along serenely with my eyes. forgetting everything. dying of grief. alone under the ground. there are umbrellas everywhere.

if one is of the understanding that an architectural reality exists only in conjunction with the experience it affords. in any case. we must become aware that we are confronting a symbol. But if we are to take only this superficial association we would be thinking of the barbershop as merely sign. True. or architectural element. using terms like building type. It is difficult . but the analysis is important in order to understand how the reference to an architectural entity differs here from if it were to appear in everyday conversation. However. But as we will see. it is unwise. I will venture to suggest that the barbershop is a masculine symbol. A sign cannot be responsible for emotional response. It communicates something to the poet that produces an emotional response. to analyze a poem in this manner. we come across an exhibition of emotion. One can very well argue here that the emotional response is generated by the smell. the shop as a physical entity is also responsible for the associations. or more broadly. he raises this building type to the level of a symbol. a judgment by the feeling function. the experience is impossible. If however. Which is why we never think of a woman going to a barbershop. The above line in Neruda’s poem reflects perfectly the thought that makes the poem: It so happens I am sick of being a man. and dangerous perhaps. one will agree that the smell and the shop are really one. The question that will lead to an understanding of this dual meaning is: Why? Why does the poet say that the smell of barbershops makes him cry? There is here an allusion to an emotional content in the entity. because it communicates nothing – it simply points to something.53 The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs. What does a barbershop mean? Perhaps it means nothing other than this that it is a place to get a haircut. Without the architecture. the experience of the barbershop than the shop itself. It is a symbol of manhood. When Neruda says barbershop.

: barber-shop quartet).54 to make compatible the image of a woman. The shop rejects any feminine associations. which he is so sick of. Women get haircuts as well. Ninth Edition. with the image of a barbershop. The grouping of men. but they go to a parlor. is a sexually specific architectural entity. but the shop and all the associations that it carries. 36 The Concise Oxford Dictionary. because this of course means nothing in the context of the poem. the dictionary definition of ‘barbershop’ is: barber-shop: n. though the purpose be for singing. language reminds us of the associations of the object. and can therefore double as a representation of the complex meaning of manhood. . but the images are incompatible. Incidentally. 36 Now when Neruda says. we can understand also why the image of the barbershop is so tormenting to him. a popular style of close harmony singing. esp. The architecture has developed a symbolic relationship with manhood. It is not that women can’t wear neckties. because of its exclusion of feminine associations. for four male voices (often attrib. So it seems that it is not really the act of getting a haircut that is alluded to. Here again. is at once associated with the similar grouping in the exclusively male experience of the barbershop. Walking into the shop reminds the poet of his sexually specific existence in society. The barbershop. It is the same as a necktie. that he is sick of being a man. that it brings tears to his eyes.

55 always for the first time Andre Breton (1896-1966) Translated from the French by Bill Zavatsky and Zack Rogow Always for the first time Hardly do I know you by sight You return at some hour of the night to a house at an angle to my window A wholly imaginary house It is there that from one second to the next In the inviolate darkness I anticipate once more the fascinating rift occurring The one and only rift In the facade and in my heart The closer I come to you In reality The more the key sings at the door of the unknown room Where you appear alone before me At first you coalesce entirely with the brightness The elusive angle of a curtain It's a field of jasmine I gazed upon at dawn on a road in the vicinity of Grasse With the diagonal slant of its girls picking Behind them the dark falling wing of the plants stripped bare Before them a T-square of dazzling light The curtain invisibly raised In a frenzy all the flowers swarm back in It is you at grips with that too long hour never dim enough until sleep You as though you could be The same except that I shall perhaps never meet you .

56 You pretend not to know I am watching you Marvelously I am no longer sure you know Your idleness brings tears to my eyes A swarm of interpretations surrounds each of your gestures It's a honeydew hunt There are rocking chairs on a deck there are branches that may well scratch you in the forest There are in a shop window in the rue Notre-Dame-deLorette Two lovely crossed legs caught in long stockings Flaring out in the center of a great white clover There is a silken ladder rolled out over the ivy There is By my leaning over the precipice Of your presence and your absence in hopeless fusion My finding the secret Of loving you Always for the first time .

The house at an angle to the window is an image that has been cut and grafted into the poem without any interpretation or analysis by the self. It is the perfect symbolist work. The window. whenever one turns to it again. it is always for the first time. that over time we forget that our perception may be relative. that there may be another way to look at things. The house is not really at an angle to the window. as opposed to the actions of the one being spied: “A You return at some hour of the night to a house at an angle to my window What I appreciate about this line in Breton’s poem is its utter innocence. or perhaps lying in such a manner that he sees the house at an angle. More than that. it is the perfect poem. because the window is the poet’s source of information and his point of reference. of course. but he does Breton has also very cleverly identified the interface that takes place with architecture in the process of perception. and it therefore exercises great influences over our mind.57 Breton’s poem resists analysis in the strongest way. which the poet conveys through this line. It’s freshness is ensured by the rich symbolism it offers. the architectural elements are merely a backdrop for the event that takes place with reference to them. We become used to seeing things the way we do. it takes even architecture to that supra-mundane level of multiplicity of meaning. It is the angle of vision of the poet. They do not merit interpretation. and in its benevolence. The voyeur is sitting. That is obvious to any reader. and no matter how many times one may have read it. To me this is a very subtle reflection of our own attitudes in general towards our milieu. The house is at an angle to the window. swarm of interpretations surrounds each of your gestures” not dwell upon this vision. It is my window and a house. He therefore does not question the image presented by the window but accepts it at face value. We do not question what is ours. There is a wonderful truthfulness about this line. for me personally. Every line calls for a ‘swarm of interpretations’. .

the context would be the office. That if they appear at my window at an angle then they must be at an angle. and he knows of no context in which he would meet her. the woman he is referring to is not the one who appears at this house every night. the whole street and eventually the entire world and all the streets that traverse it may have inclined the moment I put my head to the pillow. the agent through which I explore the world tells the truth. if he did meet her at all. because it is something that I have experienced (I use the word “experienced” for want of a better word. He can not picture her clearly in his mind. (In truth. He doesn’t see her face and she is clearly a stranger to him. If she were a colleague at work. if she were a relative. Breton knows very little about the woman he is talking about. It is the detached eye through which I see the world. but my window. the unknown room The concept of the unknown room is also something that interests me deeply. which is my middleman. He sees her from a considerable distance when she returns home at night. What is the unknown room? The unknown room is where the woman he is fantasizing about appears before him alone. So why is it unknown? The unknown room is so termed because the event has not yet taken place. The closer I come to you In reality The more the key sings at the door of the unknown room Where you appear alone before me Breton demonstrates here a very subtle and exquisite problem. The house can be wrong. for it is not really experience that I am talking about) although only a poet of Breton’s stature could have put it in such a beautiful .58 You return at some hour of the night to a house at an angle to my window There is such an expression of faith in that line – a sort of blind belief that things are the way they are. context or expressed it as simply and effectively. and has very little probability of ever taking place. but rather someone he imagines and who has all the qualities he desires in a woman).

It refers. so on and so forth. is an allusion or a symbol. To give an event a backdrop. going beyond conventional meaning. But he does not know her in any such respect. one must have some sense of what the event is or have experience of something similar. If the narrative does not exist. a very peculiar symbol. to a space or event that denies the possibility of representation as a direct image. loathe fantasy. . it must have a narrative. can the space exist? For a space to be imagined. very obvious) idea that comes to the surface. She is a complete stranger. What is interesting in all this is this very basic (and in part. That one cannot imagine a space if one knows no real event to link it to (again experience = space). It is only by calling it unknown that Breton can communicate his desperation to get a grip at this intangible. of a space that cannot be imagined for lack of a narrative. or his home or that of some common relative. and Breton does not know how or where she could possibly appear before him. The unknown room therefore.59 the context could be her home.

A strange design of bridges. sink and shrink. A white ray falling from high in the sky destroys this comedy. wide as an arm of the sea. others support polls. snatches of seigniorial concerts. remnants of public hymns? The water is gray and blue. and these figures recurring in other lighted circuits of the canal. some arched. laden with domes. Are these popular tunes. others descending at oblique angles to the first. frail parapets. signals. . possibly other costumes and musical instruments. some straight. ropes rise from the shore. A few of these bridges are still covered with hovels. One can make out a red coat.60 By Arthur Rimbaud Translated from the French by Louise Varese (1854-1891) The Bridges Skies the gray of crystal. Minor chords cross each other and disappear. but all so long and light that the banks.

without being able to reach down to the poets thoughts if it were not for the last line: observations? We can then begin to understand that even the bridges are not merely bridges. if it is a true bridge. at first glance. we say. people think of the bridge as primarily and really merely a bridge. Building Dwelling Thinking. the associations that he sees in the four-dimensional 37 A white ray falling from high in the sky destroys this comedy. mortals and divinities. sky. Just as Heidegger thinks of the bridge as a thing that gathers together the fourfold of earth. The use of the word ‘comedy’ takes us back to the ‘hoarse sobs’ of Neruda in the first poem. and we wonder at the meticulous description. and as such an expression it would then become a symbol…But the bridge. A second reading makes us further aware of this. Certainly. The suspicion of a latent thought. there is something more to the poet’s effusions. after that. . and we would simply dismiss it as thus. remnants of public hymns? And we can ask what makes admissible these peripheral Martin Heidegger.61 It is difficult.” 37 Rimbaud’s bridges are also true bridges. in the sense that it expresses something that strictly speaking does not belong to it. It appears at first to be simply a descriptive work. an ulterior reading slowly dawns on us. Rimbaud secretly develops this idea in the reader by constantly drawing him away from it during the course of the little piece. He only hints at it by side-remarks like: are these popular tunes? Only in the end. so Rimbaud’s bridges are entities that draw together the various elements of the human comedy. does he reveal the image. Now we can stop at the line: Are these popular tunes. and occasionally. is never first of all a mere bridge and then afterwards a symbol. to see the symbolic association in the above poem. dwelling on the ‘strange design of bridges’ over a dark body of water. it might possibly express much else besides. snatches of seigniorial concerts. “To be sure.

their comedy.62 character of the bridge which reflects the idiosyncrasies of the human race. by the lucid line: A white ray falling from high in the sky destroys this comedy .

Haggard through the hot white noon. . Crying: blood. rooks croak havoc: The hunt is on. he ransacks the land Condemned by our ancestral fault.63 Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) Pursuit Dans le fond des forets votre image me suit RACINE There is a panther stalks me down: One day I’ll have my death of him. Flayed by thorns I trek the rocks. Charred and ravened women lie. each paw’s a briar. Along red network of his veins What fires run. what craving wakes? Insatiate. Doom consummates that appetite. Become his starving body’s bait. and sprung the trap. His greed has set the woods aflame. Most soft. From gaunt hemlock. most suavely glides that step. Kindled like torches for his joy. let blood be spilt. Meat must glut his mouth’s raw wound. Advancing always at my back. He prowls more lordly than the sun. Keen the rending teeth and sweet the singeing fury of his fur. His kisses parch. In the wake of this fierce cat.

He eats. lights the trees. The gutted forest falls to ash. and still his need seeks food. spawning shade. The black marauder. Midnight cloaks the sultry grove. I bolt the door. Entering the tower of my fears. I rush From such assault of radiance. those taut thighs. To quench his thirst I squander blood. what lull. His ardor snares me. in dreams’ ambush Bright those claws that mar the flesh And hungry. spells a trance. And I run flaring in my skin. what cool can lap me in When burns and brands that yellow gaze? I hurl my heart to halt his pace. hungry. Appalled by secret want. His voice waylays me. Blood quickens. Behind snarled thickets of my eyes Lurks the lithe one. I shut my doors on that dark guilt. hauled by love On fluent haunches. gonging in my ears: The panther’s tread is on the stairs. keeps my speed. each door I bolt. Compels a total sacrifice.64 Now hills hatch menace. Coming up and up the stairs. .

which goes beyond the reference to the tower. Whenever an architectural element is taken upon oneself. That the panther is an allegorical character. the feelings so strongly associate with an architectural element that they demand the analogy themselves. she switches from an object that can be understood to exist in physical terms. I shut my doors on that dark guilt. its symbolic use becomes apparent. it still assists us in understanding the communicative capacity of the architectural element. Though that be the case. As soon as she makes that choice. A multitude of symbolism is presented by the above verses. I shut my doors on that dark guilt.65 Entering the tower of my fears. It is because this particular emotional disposition is present in the object that it can be called upon to represent it. Rather. The tower here is a composition parented by the emotions that the poet is dwelling upon. the poet takes even the doors of the tower to the other side. If the relevant feelingvalue was missing in the symbol. The tower is not apprehended first and adopted for it’s associative worth. The fear increases. because at that point it is no longer representing a . Again. becomes obvious with the reference to the animal as ‘that dark guilt’. The poem’s symbolic make-up is very obvious throughout its body. to one that is mere analogy. The poet chooses the hypothetical hunt as an allegory to present some complex emotional ideas whose direct representation if possible would nevertheless be hardly poetic. though all the while clear. and in fact seem out of place. and increases until it takes the shape of a tower. of symbolic association. by saying ‘my doors’. surely the symbol would be useless. The very nature of the pursuit makes us aware that it is entirely built upon allusion. The heightening of a feeling is encapsulated in the tower.

not a real chase but an illusion that has the truth wrapped in a ball of yarn. A tower that begins as a figure of speech to support the emotions arrayed by the poet. but which becomes more and more real as the feelings are heightened. and the only thing we are capable of imagining within it is an architectural intervention. . until it is the only reality – a real tower. but along the path he is also constantly aware that this is not a real story. Towards the end. but an emotionally inclined human reality. with very real steps which the poet can ascend and which the panther can navigate as well. So the poet raises one for us. The reader confronts a narrative which can only progress through the use of descriptive language. The poem’s strength lies in the ease with which it combines the descriptive with the symbolic. the landscape is thoroughly laid out before us.66 neutral physical reality.

Long tolls the vesper bell. Wandering ones. . The table is for many laid. Pain has turned the threshold to stone. in limpid brightness shown. more than a few. The house is provided well. Upon the table bread and wine. Wanderer quietly steps within. Golden blooms the tree of graces Drawing up the earth’s cool dew.67 A Winter Evening George Trakl (1887-1914) Window with falling snow is arrayed. Come to the door on darksome courses. There lie.

Though the discourse presented by Heidegger is irrelevant to our purpose. However. of meeting. as well as justifies the threshold analogy. they are within our homes. that is. It has associations. in the threshold? As we discussed in chapter 1. Why are there associations to pain. not. At one level. the threshold also embodies the idea of parting (and meeting) because we essentially part with someone when they cross the threshold. interface. The poem is also about parting. Before this. Heidegger uses the poem’s central idea of the union of opposites. which reveals its symbolic associations. the conjunction with pain remains unexplained. the architectural element is referred to in conjunction with an emotion. which makes it suitable for the exemplification of Heidegger’s ideology. 38 The verse contains on a microcosmic level. or the duality of parting and meeting. union etc. Martin Heidegger. embodied in the threshold symbolism (interface of outside and inside). To comprehend the nature of these associations. The pain is so strong that the poet can only see the physical nature of the threshold as a consequence of this emotional characteristic. and afterwards. pg. what the poem contains as a whole. see the context in which the symbol appears. Poetry. . Pain has turned the threshold to stone. it is interesting to note that Heidegger also observes that the second verse of the third stanza “speaks all by itself in what is spoken in the whole poem”. It is hence. to reveal his own philosophy of the unity of the fourfold. one with the poem. The above poem is meditated upon by Heidegger. therefore. Thought. Language. the poem is undoubtedly about the union of opposites. The threshold is nothing more than the point where the outside and inside meet. in a lecture on Language.68 Pain has turned the threshold to stone. we will once again have to look at the idea communicated in 38 the poem. Once again.203.

Interestingly.472. rather than what is not: The table is for many laid. to the point that the threshold has turned to stone over the recurrent loss. The Interpretation of Dreams. because it is waiting for the unification. await the wanderers out in the snow. The threshold is in pain. the poet makes us aware of its emptiness: the absence of the human element. the object (threshold) is symbolized by incorporating in it a human condition.69 In the poem. in the other objects represented as well. and their anticipation of union are 39 summed up in the symbol of the threshold. the parting has taken place already – in fact it has infinitely taken place. tables laid for a meal. or the women. Again. of the laid table with the human company. inside. and boards also stand for women. What is left. Their pain at the parting (or of the consequent absence). of the wanderer with the housebound. of outside. Freud.” 39 So we can see that the human element is present. The laid tables. in a symbolic way. By showing us a full table. pg. . is the void. and this the poet only conveys by showing us what is there. Freud states that “Tables.

No art passes our conscience in the way film does. but actually it’s the way things happen to you in life that’s unreal. pop artist. -Ingmar Bergman (b. director. Film Film as dream. deep down into the dark rooms of our souls. The movies make emotions look so strong and real.S. -Andy Warhol (1928–87). whereas when things really do happen to you. film as music. 1918). and goes directly to our feelings.70 4. . it’s like watching television— you don’t feel anything. U. People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal. Swedish stage and film writer.

70. the medium could offer the architectonic potential to allow us to look far into the future by enabling us to immerse ourselves in previously unimaginable spaces. Architectural Design vol. and all of its technology. Karin Damrau. and the film owes much of its fame to his extra-ordinary vision. though perhaps not as significant. after reading an intensely involving novel.71 Film Space If we proceed from our earliest definition of architecture. though it is not very difficult to understand. Fantastic Spatial Combinations in Film. however slight or removed from our orthodox understanding of architecture it may be. as an experience of space. “By using all the possibilities inherent in film. A really good book. or Aldous Huxley’s moral admonitions in Brave New World helped to evolve our stands on moral issues. .58-61. “The architecture of Golem city was considered by architecture critics to be so important that the film became the subject of analysis whilst still in production.70.” 40 Space that is represented in film extends our understanding of real 40 space and real architecture in much the same way as H. which produced a bizarre and twisted space for the equally dark narrative. Claudia Dillman writes in an article. is one that we don’t want should end. Wells’ or Jules Verne’s literary predictions of our scientific/technological future helped in shaping this future. Architecture + Film II. How can events that are viewed externally. The set for the 1920 German film Golem was designed by Hans Poelzig. be equated with events that are experienced personally? We all feel. Indeed. Architectural Design vol.17. that we have closed a chapter of our lives. there have been architects that have involved themselves in the designing of film space. as a third person. because it is a part of our 41 Claudia Dillman. For a number of people this is a notion that is difficult to accept. Realizing the Spiritual City.” 41 But more important than that. Architecture + Film II. one cannot deny that space that is represented in film must be seen as architecture. In this respect. is the fact that what we confront in a film enters the domain of experience. pg.G. we must include in the realm of architecture any experience that may fall under a spatial experience. pg. an architect.

But most psychologists today would give as much importance to these nighttime escapades as they do to our daytime activities.” 42 To say that experience is not experience without physical interaction is to say that dreams. In short. one must attach some importance to it. Indeed. though a virtual one (that is. or has become entangled with our life. one cannot disregard them as lying within the circle of experiences. When we watch a film. a reflection of ourselves. We see in the protagonist. we laugh. The experience of film. It is space. In the film he participates in the events that he cannot participate in real life. he is still in the center of it. which are psychic experiences. The experience of the film becomes an actual experience by somewhat the same mechanism that Bachelard explains allows childhood fantasies to get entangled with childhood reality and hence enrich the memory. We experience his experiences with him. If one views film space even at this superficial level. When he laughs. We are happy with him and sad with him. “We have to accept the fact that the world we can experience with our senses is only a partial view of a multilayered reality. at least in this very superficial sense that we are aware of a possibility of such a series of events. we cannot deny it. for instance. one not directly apprehended by the senses) is still experience at some level. as bizarre or unrealistic a dream may be. and therefore architecture that has entered our consciousness. we associate with the characters in the film. Once we have witnessed a dream. The viewer therefore lives the life of the character in an indirect way. regardless of how removed from reality its particular form or configuration may be. Even if one refuses to attribute any meaning to dreams. we can not deny that the particular form or configuration of events depicted in it has entered our consciousness. 42 Ibid. and that it is only with the aid of instruments that we can access a further area. Though distanced from the action. are not experiences at all. . the very success of a film depends on how easily the audience can associate with the characters.72 life.

four dimensions to architecture. predisposes it to a particular kind of activity. in this case.” 43 There is no mode of escape from this appendage of narrative. These will always fall short of the original idea. pg. The trouble begins when one carries the thought. from which the architecture draws its life. material. Even when one simply conceives of a space without imagining an activity there. that space is an archetype. 43 . One can say. because it is impossible to conceive archetypes except in the form of definite models with definite attributes (or. scale. the form.. The architect cannot endow the work with the narration Barbara Bowman. narratives). Space is conceived along with the narration. and its necessity can be best understood in connection with film space. but the lack of control over it. However the appendage itself is not the cause of distress for the architect. it appears pale and banal. Lubitsch.73 Why Film succeeds where Architecture fails The notion that architecture is a three-dimensional art is slightly off the mark – by one dimension. thereby partaking of their experience. Without the essential narration. and Wyler. The inclusion of narrative is most obviously applicable to film space. There are. Sternberg. the fourth being the narrative. because here the narration is missing. “So space is not simply the enclosing horizontal and vertical planes but the physical being in that space. although the narrative may be indistinct or left undefined by terminology. language. onto the 2 dimensions of the drawing. in truth. The narrative here is linked to the characters played out in the film and is shared by the viewer when he projects himself into the characters. and a particular space is a model by which one can see the archetype. which is created between the director’s three-dimensional vocabulary and the spectator’s projected emotional occupation of that space. and subsequently the 3 dimensions of the actual work.6. One designs space with this pre-requisite of narrative. etc. The process of conceptualizing space begins from this four-dimensional form. It is impossible to conceive a space without this pre-requisite. or the architectural idea. MASTER SPACE Film images of Capra.

74 that existed in his mind along with the work. This is always grafted onto the work by a third entity (the people who inhabit or use the space). great architecture (in the formal respect) may stem from a fictitious narration that is the creation of the poet in the architect. Moreover. In that case. . it is not in his capacity to determine it with precision and design the space accordingly. One therefore sees a lot of beautiful and powerful architecture (Corbusier’s Textile Mill owners’ Associations building is an appropriate example) that seems misused. It is therefore impossible to exercise any sort of control over this dimension. Fig.15: Le Corbusier. it may not be based very rigidly on the lives or stories of the end users (which are often rather mundane). No matter how carefully an architect takes into account the living patterns of the eventual users. and therefore outside of its narrative or context. Textile Millowners Association Bldg.

75 there is no question of a variation in the script and no element of surprise. The threedimensional space of the film and the narration within it are produced simultaneously. The story in its entirety is present before them in the form of the script and the characters that are to act out the narration are clearly mapped out and their traits set forth in character sketches. The set of a film (where sets are properly designed) compliments the action of the film. no misfittings. with the result that there are no gaps. Mona Lisa at Mont Sainte-Victoire . Fig.16: conference room at the TMA. To try and conceive it would be rather like trying to imagine what background would be better suited for the face of Mona Lisa. and is hardly at odds with it. They are at liberty to play God with the action of the film. All fronts are therefore guarded. unlike the proceedings of our daily lives. This is an altogether inconceivable notion because the proceedings of the film. The actors are people who willingly conspire with them in carrying out the scenes exactly as decided to the end of the film. and no disappointments.17: Leonardo da Cezanne. One rarely finds the actors and the action standing out sorely against the backdrop. The result is obviously a beautiful retreat from the ugliness of life. The director and his team are aware of all the possibilities. and Fig. The team that creates the separate parts of the film is one team. Not so with film. This problem simply does not exist. are altogether predetermined.

76 Meaning and Nonmeaning in Film Architecture The representation of space is essential to film. Four Monas .19: Leonardo da Warhol. Fig. because film is a narrative. the film is supported by it. so narrative cannot be conceived without space. And just as space cannot be conceived without a narrative (as we observed in the concept of the Unknown Room). “don’t demand our interpretation. Barbara Bowman makes a distinction between habitual and acute spaces in film. These habitual spaces have an “unframed” quality. In her analysis. she explains. The former. while the other transcends and arrives at symbolism and meaning.18: Leonardo da Picasso. Mona Lisa at Avignon Fig. film can represent spaces as being familiar to the characters (habitual) or in a sort of tension with them (acute). there can be two modes of representation. But just as we saw in relation to poetry. One remains merely superficial and to the extent of description. In Master Space. However disjointed this narrative may be.

or what I mean by the term. It is exclusive. one idea. Meaningful film space. and keeps changing. in a way. “Certainly. because life does not end after 90 minutes. space that has a feeling-value. that is not inert. it can be compared to a soap opera. he or she might achieve “acute space”. Sometimes this means that the qualities we conventionally attribute to character inform the environment as well. but the simple distinction between characters.77 unlike acute spaces. but a living part of the production endowing the narrative with meaning. and camera position and movement break down. where the storyline can take any sort of twists and turns. It is space that is not neutral. which has to be inclusive in order to stand against the very varied narrative of real life. and perhaps also knowledge of the series of events that 45 44 Ibid. and convey the same message in a more intensely realized manner. The actors still act. props. pg. corresponds closely to what Bowman calls acute space. a director might pragmatically instruct an actor to move in a certain way through space – to saunter or scurry. as opposed to real architecture. Ibid.31. To produce film space for real life. If anything.. or humanized space. “motive” or “intention” (the inner state of the fictional character) would be apparent in the composition of the film space as well as in the actor’s performance” 45 This meaningful space is possible to achieve in film because film space is engineered with a single specific narrative in mind. pg. Real architecture cannot convey one feeling. It goes on. one would have to have a complete character sketch of the client. one script.” 44 A similar distinction can be made when talking about meaningful and non-meaningful spaces.. One can therefore observe the same banality and superficiality in the set of a soap opera as can be seen in most built architecture. It is. not a backdrop. . set design.8. which are framed and composed. anthropomorphized. but interacts in the narrative of the film by communicating alongside the characters. displaying his psyche and suggesting his mode of behavior in any situation. But were the director to embody character’s motives in the total scene.

But since this is clearly impossible. Hans Dieter Schaal. One would thence be in a position to design the kind of space that would produce a dialogue similar to the character’s own expression. if not meaningful. in Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave. This is an example of a space that. light and shade. In that sense. or presents space in a previously unseen perspective. pg. in the context of a specific narrative. . David (Christopher Ecclestone) lays siege on the attic of the apartment he shares with his two friends and. Alex (Ewan Mcgregor) climbs up into the attic. because of its reliance on an extraordinary and specific narrative. thereby lending integrity and meaning to every event. In Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave (1194). “Film architecture is an architecture of meaning. 70. There is nothing in the frame that does not have something to say…Film space is an emotional place made up of wall. Architectural Design vol.78 he is meant to experience in the course of his life. in his paranoid state. Fig.20: David in the attic. which for various reasons. Spaces of the Psyche.13 Architecture + Film II. when it presents a unique spatial configuration. In one scene. 46 drills holes in the floor of his lair in order to keep watch on his fellow boarders. film space becomes important. would be impossible to realize.” 46 Film allows us to explore space. one must turn to film to get a notion of the extent to which space can acquire meaning. would hardly be possible to apprehend in real life. and the camera reveals the dark space traversed with numerous tiny beams of light emerging from the drilled floor.

Architecture + Film II.20-25. The scenario is straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.21: Interrogation room in Brazil Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) provides a perfect example of film space that has an anthropomorphic character. The city portrayed in the film has a psyche. and uses the film to “demonstrate the demoralizing and oppressive nature of social modernity”. 47 Fig22: Sam Lowry struggles with his desk in Brazil. pg. Architecture + Film II. They are machines for living in that function reluctantly. Architectural Design vol.” 49 Fig. “Brazil is a cannibalistic environment where human flesh and trivial data fuel the expansion of the metropolitan superorganism. “In Brazil. but Gilliam also creates a critique of modern architecture.” 47 Brazil narrates the trials of one maladjusted citizen. 48 49 Keith James Hamel. 70.79 Architecture as Communicator of Idea in Brazil oppressive system. Brazil (critical review). pg. by way of which it becomes a living. he uses as characters that also act and thereby communicate. 70. . buildings appear as malevolent beings. Architectural Design vol. in a malicious and hostile future city run by an Rachel Armstrong. vomiting their guts at any provocation. breathing organism that exerts its will on its inhabitants. Modernism as Enemy. 55-57. Cyborg Architecture and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. The buildings. 48 He therefore gives special importance to the architecture of the film. since that is much of the subject. Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce). Edwin Heathcote.

and no one can be trusted. the system is all-powerful. Just as in Orwell’s 1984. the set. Fig. “Gilliam is not interested in capturing “reality” so much as capturing a particular mood or feeling”. so well. are working in synergy. the notion of surveillance is heightened to the extent that big brother actually watches you all the time. Of course. products of the system. Even the narrative (the script is co-written by Gilliam) does not depict reality.80 It is because Gilliam’s buildings appear as “beings” that they are able. but certain trends in real life that are pushed to the extreme. Or if one chooses to see things the other way round. everyone is suspect. 50 This mood or feeling is best conveyed when all components of the film. . so in Brazil. the camera movement. the director has to overstep the bounds of reality. Brazil achieves this by putting its architecture through the same processes and ordeals as are undergone or suffered by the characters. He has to exaggerate certain things. as oppressive and dangerous beings. Brazil (critical review). and it is suicide to attempt to avert his gaze. To heighten the idea of a claustrophobic and vicious system. Gilliam portrays the buildings. the actors. thereby producing a unified effect. in order to do this. to communicate the idea behind the narrative. Here we come across meaningful or acute space because “the qualities that we conventionally attribute to character inform the environment”. one can say that the narrative is specific and engineered in such a way that the characters reflect the events that are experienced by the architecture of the film so that their experiences itself become a critique on architecture or on modernity in toto. The space acquires a feeling-value and is no more inert.23:a plastic surgeon works on Lowry’s mother 50 Keith James Hamel. that assist the system in making the lives of the inhabitants miserable.

but her body is constantly at war with the unnatural processes of ‘eternal reinvention’. Cyborg Architecture and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Architectural Design vol. Architecture + Film II.24: The Labyrinth In the introduction to our discussion. which cannot be superseded. because it can exist in total disregard to the issues pertaining to the real world. we had suggested two factors of architectural reality that inhibit the pure representation of architectural idea. Both of these can be tackled by film.55-57. manifesting its systems’ weaknesses through accidental detonations as deliberate acts of sabotage. 51 That film can easily side-step reality is most noticeably and effectively demonstrated in The Matrix and the . 70. The fabric of the metropolis is also on the edge of dissolution. Rachel Armstrong. She suffers many surgical ‘complications’ and finally ends up on the floor as a gelatinous mixture of separate cyborg components.81 “Even the individual characters are unstable beings on the border of personal rejection or destruction. as system malfunctions and information errors. the second is the limitations due to practicality and functionality.” 51 Architectural Purity in Labyrinth Fig. Lowry’s mother employs the technologies of medicine and surgery to transgress her biological ‘old age’ and restore her ‘original’ femininity. The first of these is the physical limitations imposed by reality. pg.

she finds herself in a long passage that seems to go on and on. The film climaxes within a dramatic Escher-like space where staircases do dizzying and inexplicable things and one can end up walking on a plane that was a ceiling just moment before. Short on time. and it need not be sustained beyond it. Therefore.25: The Castle at the centre of the Labyrinth Early in the film. she starts running between the huge walls. Jim Henson’s Labyrinth takes a premise based on magic (as a departure from reality) and combines it with the architectural phenomenon of a labyrinth to present a number of exciting spatial concepts that cannot exist outside the screen. but there are intriguing configurations and spatial ideas that pop up every now and then during the course of the film. Everything from leaping across buildings in single bounds to running up walls and trees to dashing across pools of water and even flying becomes possible for man in films. she exclaims: . Fig. Baffled at this quirk. Apart from the fact that the narrative of the film does not need to correspond to the same physical laws as that of reality. Sometimes a justification for these flights of fancy is provided in the narrative. But she finds none. trying to find an opening leading into the complex network of pathways that make up the labyrinth.82 more recent Crouching Tiger. space that would in reality by either impossible or unfeasible to construct can be designed and produced for a cinematic venture. Hidden Dragon. film has the added advantage that it shows you everything through the biased eyes of the camera which very casually overlooks a number of practical and functional issues. but sometimes even that is deemed unnecessary. when Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is beginning her adventurous journey through the maze. And since the raison d’etre of such a space is none other than this one specific production. no issues related to long term concerns may impinge.

Again. the film produces an actual one – one that does not need to compromise in the face of reality. but Karin Damrau. with an illogical sequence of events. Fantastic Spatial Combinations in Film. borrowed from modernism and. taken to extreme. At one point when she’s trapped inside the oubliette (a place to put people to forget about them). into the small confines of the urn . rickety ladder and finally emerges from inside an earthen vessel. thus creating a world beyond depictable reality. The dungeon has no door. The camera draws back to show that the vessel rests on top of a table.” 52 Such configurations and juxtapositions of spaces may have little relevance to architecture. and Sarah’s experiences so far. pg. Further on. so he . Film has the capacity to string together a narrative using elements that don’t join up seamlessly. she finds that walls of the labyrinth shift and change their configuration at their own will or by the will some unseen agency . because it produces its own reality.83 “What do they mean labyrinth? There are no turns or corners or anything. Architectural Design vol. To escape from the tunnel. thereby rolling the entire space of the oubliette.26: Sarah tries to find an entrance into the Labyrinth Whereas we can only hope to imitate the concept of the endless corridor. and leave part of the work for the viewer. the duo climbs up a very high.a kind of flexibility. Then he opens it: the first attempt leads into a cupboard. the tunnel. a kind of warping of space is demonstrated here that is explored further only in film.58-61. Architecture + Film II. it just goes on and on” picks up one that is lying on the floor and places it against a wall. but then he opens the door from the hinged end and reveals a tunnel. “The viewers assemble the sequences using their own imagination. 70 52 Fig. a goblin comes to show her an exit.a kind of dream-like representation.

be possible. explains in an article. The image of Sarah and the goblin emerging from the vessel. Pre/Post-production Pre-production techniques. and who knows to what extent. The ‘Thai restaurant’ boat was shot as a full-size built element. under different laws. and in what manner we may draw closer to that absolute idea. but it is there in the sense that the architect exposed to such ideas will at least possess another perspective. True. with conventional matte painting filling in the lower reaches. may evoke the question: How can a very large space be confined within a very small one? Set in this way. 3-D animation and photography. the question doesn’t seem altogether odd. however superficial this experience may be. how the real and virtual were combined to produce the architectural backdrop. The small vehicles crossing the 3-D computer model of the Brooklyn Bridge were created as 2-D painted animation and. formed broadly. finally. are later combined on a single plane and with the assistance of computer-generated visual effects. the application to real work may be little. for example. who worked on the sets for the Luc Besson film The Fifth Element.84 on a wider level nevertheless opens up avenues of thought regarding space. he will be able to ask questions that. Given the way in which humans alter their reality. its attached jet engine a 3-D computer model. in any way whatsoever. and postproduction intervention often work together in film to produce space that cannot exist in reality. Eric Hanson. just about anything is possible. And even if the idea never gets translated into reality. 2-D drawings. and thereby raise our consciousness with regard to what might. are rational. collected before the shooting. it at least allows us to add to our collection of spatial experiences. the . produce a reality today that is seldom seen as a farce. By the aid of this perspective. They help us see spaces in terms very different from those we are used to. “Miniatures of 1960s Metabolistinspired clusters of modular apartment units were set against a 3D computer generated model of the skyline.

” 53 Fig. Ridley’s team built part of the Coliseum.62-69. “As we drop further below the daylight of street level. we begin to enter an artificially lit realm.29: A view from the top This. These backgrounds were created entirely on the computer. and offer a glimpse of what digital capabilities can provide for creating large-scale environments. Architectural Design vol.” 54 These digitally produced sets can cheat in little ways. the cacophony of Times Square. pg. 54 Ibid. gives us only a taste of the extent to which space is digitally manufactured for film. Digital Fiction – New Realism in Film Architecture.85 smoke of the jet engine was rendered with a 3-D particle system. and created the rest in CG. as when they exhibit lighting for which no source is architecturally possible or produce little nooks of spaces that add up to be greater than the whole. 53 Eric Hanson.28: Milla Jovovich takes a plunge Fig.27: the virtual environment of The Fifth Element Fig.70. intact and independent of the time of day. virtually. the whole amphitheatre. Architecture + Film II. even giving it a computer generated patina to make it appear 150 years old. and only up to a certain height on a location in Malta. or they may cheat in a big way as in the case of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. of course. where a section of the Coliseum served as enough of a real set to produce. .

For the sporting events. explains how. the Mill Film cosupervisor.30: the partially built coliseum John Nelson. graded to reflect Scott's visual plan. we focused on creating individual crowd characters.86 architectural Coliseum but the event within the architecture that is virtual. Sweat and ‘Gladiator’.” Not only is the architecture heavily dependent on the computergenerated effects.000 – a task impossible to achieve without computer aided post-production intervention. VFX supervisor. The solution was achieved in an ingenious way by Mill Film. in another article by Fordham: “We needed a robust strategy that Fig. came up with the idea of shooting crowd performers against a greenscreen with bluescreen slashes of color in their costumes that could be digitally re-colored. Rob Harvey. Blood. designed by Steven Hall to facilitate the photography of . with animation in Softimage combined with Maya fabric-simulation software. an article by Joe Fordham lends us a clue to the extent of the involvement of computer software: “Scenes were tracked with 3D Equalizer. the production team required an audience of 70. “The success of the first test prompted the construction of a greenscreen photo-booth arrangement. it isn’t simply the would allow us to handle an unlimited variety of shots…Laurent Hugueniot came up with the idea of shooting tiles of crowd and placing them into our 3D portions of the stadium. and John Nelson. In the case of ‘Gladiator’. To create those tiles. Scenes were rendered in Renderman and composited in Discreet Logic's Inferno.” Fordham writes. Shadow information was achieved using radiosity techniques achieved with Lightscape software. structures were modeled in Softimage and Alias|Wavefront. but sometimes even the narrative relies on it. the digital post-production facility on the project.

Fig. nonchalantly talking. the front and then the back.staring. thumbs up. Here it can substitute all that is not available in the real world. VFX Supervisor. side view and front view of each crowd artist. with no main key light.” 55 Architectural experience. Three Betacam cameras were mounted to provide a top view.87 crowds on location in Malta. The hard key separation allowed us to catalog the performances and slide the characters in wherever they were needed with the proper lighting. just a hard fill from the side. at 4:1. Films can therefore provide a very powerful architectural image. thumbs down. John Nelson. lit a certain way. encoding different performances -. . cheering. If we needed a cheering person.” Nelson said. “We shot all day. “Steven lit the shots so that they could be captured in the open shade.31: virtually Rome 55 Joe Fordham. surpass the limitations imposed by physical laws and be unfettered by practical concerns. on Creating Ridley’s Rome. we could go to all our cheering shots and pick one from a certain angle. pulling extras away from the Coliseum set. that 4dimensional entity that comprises of space and narrative can be created outside of reality in the realm of CGI. We used a high key to fill the lighting ratio.

or indeed to induce . in the kitchen or deep inside a closet where nobody could probe me. The loss of symbolic meaning. Functional/practical considerations and 3. or the inability to translate the idea into reality without a “generation loss” so to speak. it is perhaps appropriate. with the loss of symbolic meaning. and I wrote on. They rose up threatening my poetry with hooks and knives and black pliers.88 I dove into the abyss of the poorest houses – underneath the bed. simply to keep from dying. to observe if at all it is possible to prevent this loss of meaning from taking place. In conclusion. The physical limitations imposed by reality. -Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). 2. is due to a reasons which we have managed to identify as 1. The lack of control over narrative. It made no difference. which exists in the architectural idea. if not essential. Chilean poet Conclusion Our contention with the architecture of the real world has been. throughout this dissertation.

The symbol relies on multiplicity of meaning for its strength. by working against the very factors that are responsible for diluting the meaning of the architectural idea. and it becomes a superficial element without multiplicity of meaning. If their meanings are restricted. but when it is repeatedly viewed as simply an opening in a wall. To attack the problem from this side would mean to strip architecture of a raison d’etre. precisely because it works against practical impositions in architecture. the sun-wheel. A symbol is something that signifies more than one particular thing. we must understand what it is that makes a thing symbolic. because it is surely not without formal aesthetics. the apple. the snake. A similar idea is embodied in Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 exhibit of a urinal. its symbolic potency is dissipated. Conceptual Art. The right question. in my opinion. pg. to restore its symbolic status..89 symbolic meaning in built architecture. the tree. . made one aware that it can be viewed as more than that – perhaps even as an art object. as in the case of the palm when it appears over an amil’s den or the cross when it appears over a grave.6-7. the fish – all these symbols represent a number of things. 56 56 Cf. The palm. Tony Godfrey. Duchamp’s retrieval of the toilet fixture from its familiar setting. which he titled “fountain”. that is. This point of approach is impractical. The question has more or less been answered in the course of this dissertation. it can only be done so from lateral plane of thinking. The window may be symbolically strong in itself. It is their huge store of meaning that makes them potent as symbols. that is. Here one must take Cobusier’s advice and ask the right question. A similar thing can be anticipated in architecture. they stop functioning as symbols and are reduced to signs. I’m convinced that the problem cannot be approached from a logical procedure. If the dilemma can be confronted. the cross. the sword. is: what makes a symbol a symbol? If the task is to induce architecture with a lost symbolic meaning.

90 Fig. and a bedroom a place to sleep or indulge in sexual activity. if their function was not at once apparent. or if they could be made to be inclusive of other functions. If spaces could maintain a certain ambiguity of function. to the observer. The table below summarizes our discussion and concludes the dissertation: . and it cannot communicate the mass of meaning it is capable of. When a bathroom is just a place to take a bath or relieve oneself. then the possibilities that are inherent in the space are eroded. then perhaps the symbolic aspect of architecture could be safe guarded.32: Duchamp’s Fountain Architectural elements are restricted in their meaning by the imposition of a particular function that lacks flexibility or possibilities of reinterpretation.

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