LAILA HAMDI BUSTAMI, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation is concerned with understanding the nature of meaningful architectural appearances which contribute to the fulfillment of emotional needs when judging architecture. It is more narrowly focused on the visual relationship--the formal correlation--between a building's exterior and interior. For understanding and analysing this relationship, semiology here proves to provide an effective means. To explore the general problem of a building's appearance and its meaning, a semiological coding scheme is developed. The bases of this scheme are the theoretical notions of Umberto Eco's semiotics, Juan Bonta's semiotics, and the Gestalt theory of perception. This scheme explains and orders how features (the appearance's components) and visual qualities (the meaning's components) relate to each other by means of codes (the scheme's subsystems). To understand the formal correlation between a building's exterior and interior, the semiological coding scheme is used in a study in which one main exterior and three alternatives of the main interior of each of six public buildings are compared. All exteriors and interiors are presented graphically in perspective. The purpose is to determine which of the interiors has a formal correlation with the exterior, so that the concept of "formal correlation" can be understood. Formal correlation between a building's exterior and interior, as a meaningful relationship, is supported by testing a group of laymen's intuitive judgments concerning the same cases used in the semiological comparison study. Although this dissertation is limited to the study of one kind of relationship between a building's exterior and interior, it contributes largely to composing buildings' appearances. By developing a semiological coding scheme, the designer can better understand how features of buildings relate to visual qualities, thus he/she becomes able to compose meaningful buildings' appearances. Also, by using a semiological coding scheme, the designer can attain similar meanings through different appearances. The supported semiological notion, however, is not limited to judging or designing architectural appearances, but to all visual patterns such as paintings and sculptures.

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Recommended Citation

BUSTAMI, LAILA HAMDI, "A FORMAL LANGUAGE FOR BUILDINGS" (1981). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8127008.