Scratching the Surface: Linguistics in Architecture

said by: Todd Funkhouser

Attend any architecture school in the world and one fact becomes immediately apparent: architecture is talked about in a very specific way with a very specific jargon. This linguistic learning curve alienates the public and intimidates students upon first encounter. However, this academic jargon presents its own set of benefits that help to articulate many ideas that underlie the profession and easily allow for communication among professionals and academics. Utilizing academic jargon and the vast repertoire of architectural, literary, philosophical, psychological, and sociological knowledge, architects quickly articulate design intents and theoretical musings that help push design into new frontiers. Charged diction combined with iteration, appropriation of descriptors, and simple free association is a quick way to ideate and work though conceptual design issues. It is an incredibly satisfying exercise that gets thoughts onto paper, generates a conceptual framework, and allows for initial and continual interpretations during all stages of design.

This is an example of linguistic free association written during a studio analyzing appropriateness of typologies and formal qualities being built in historic regions of Cincinnati. The conclusion and subsequent design revolved around blending city zoning codes with site specific palimpsest and incorporating the aesthetics of local ArtWork’s murals in the historic district of Over The Rhine.

Procedural Palimpsest

Architectural Palimpsest

Cincinnati Palimpsest

Cincinnati Upheaval

Formal Upheaval

Formal Content

Formal Context

Context as Form

Industry as Form

Industry as Genesis

Industry as Structure

Cincinnati Dependent on Structure

Cincinnati Distorted by Upheaval

Cincinnati Elevated by Upheaval

Cincinnati Elevated by Industry

Cincinnati Dependent on Industry

Palimpsest is the Past

Generative Moves are the Past

Constructed Designs Always Have a Past

Architectural Residue as Past

Palimpsest Describes Past Construction

Palimpsest as an Object

Palimpsest as a Procedure

Palimpsest as a Final Product

Palimpsest Uncovers Past

Past is Literally Old

Past is Figuratively Old

Past Exists in the Present

Uncovered Past Exists in the Present

Exposed Past Exists in the Present

OpinionTodd Funkhouserbcc: