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Elusive Interpretations

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nathaniel ColemanORCiD


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Interpreting architecture is a particularly fraught endeavour. An overview of the variety of methods for comprehending buildings reveals just how unpromising any one of them is on its own. For example, any method that attempts to either limit or fix meaning once and for all or is dependent on a fixed point of reception will be of limited use to opening up perspectives on architectural meaning, experience or making. As a corrective, this paper examines the prospect of interpretative modes dynamic and multi-dimensional enough to account for the degree to which architecture both causes change and is affected by it: meaning continually shifts through time according to circumstances. Nevertheless, the persistence of certain works through time, in the imagination, as objects of inquiry, usefulness or value within a culture, suggests that some interpretable aspects of architecture are stable enough to persist, while others must be supple enough to be shaped by change. Ruskin’s theories of architectural interpretation as outlined in 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture' will be considered.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coleman N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cloud-Cuckoo-Land: International Journal of Architectural Theory

Year: 2008

Volume: 12

Issue: 2

Pages: -

Print publication date: 01/12/2008

ISSN (print): 1434-0984

Publisher: Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus


Notes: This publication was an invited submission to the refereed, on-line, international journal of architectural theory, Cloud-Cuckoo-Land. The article is also an example of the ongoing loop that exists in my work between my research and teaching in which ideas developed in my research are tested out in my teaching and then fed back into my research. The resulting outputs benefit from having been tested and refined in multiple settings and at many levels.