ARCHITECTURE AND LINGUISTICS

A talk on “Sensory Metaphoric Cognition on Space” delivered by Rosario Caballero on the 8th of December 2016, Visual Learning Lab, Budapest University of Technology and Economics (Hungary).

ABSTRACT

Buildings and spatial entities are ‘popular’ sources in metaphorical mappings and they belong to our everyday experience and, hence, are used for discussing (and thinking) about more abstract concepts. Space remains a difficult entity to define and to describe by using literal, spatial-only language. Rather, buildings are described as breathing, having bowels and skins, as clad with various materials, fitting in tightly-knit urban spaces, or hugging their sites (Caballero 2006, 2014). Architectural descriptions attempt to capture what buildings ‘feel’ like, as suggested by adjectives qualifying them as craggy, fluid, enveloping, bland, stuffy or crisp–all of which attempt to ‘translate’ the sensory properties of buildings (Caballero and Paradis 2013).
In this talk I describe the ways architects use language to evoke the visual, olfactory, tactile and interactive experiences afforded by buildings. I am particularly concerned with discussing how architects transfer their perception of space as knowledge, and how this knowledge is communicated through figurative language in one of the most popular genres in architectural discourse, namely the architectural review (hereafter, AR). Indeed, and contrary to folk views of experiencing and assessing architectural space as mainly visual affairs, contemporary architects maintain that their work is much more multimodal, and that vision actually engages the other senses as well (Bloomer and Moore 1977;Pallasmaa 2005; Seamon 2007). The task of reviewers, then, is to translate their experiences through the medium of written language in a form that the readers can relate to through their senses. This is a complex task which often requires the use of imagery of diverse sorts. The ultimate aim of my talk is to explore the ways in which imagery informs and contributes to the shaping of the sensory landscapes of the community of architects as these are staged in the AR genre.