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A study on Space and Language: Relationships between Ideograms, the Roman Alphabet, and Urban Space in the East and the West

Objective

The proposed research will investigate relationships between language and space by analyzing connections between written language and the production of urban space and architecture in the West and East. The investigation will explore language’s capacity to produce both symbolic and social dimensions of space. In doing so, the research will clarify how the differing language systems of East and West have influenced architecture design. Viewing language in a general sense—as a system of patterns, and signs for writing space—by direct implication, architecture is a language, and like any other language has its own grammatical rules. The research will be divided into three paths of inquiry. The first will investigate the respective traditional patterns used in the West and East to organize space before the diffusion of writing in alphabets and ideograms, respectively. The second path will examine how the alphabet influenced the constitution and shape of Western cities and how ideograms influenced the composition of Eastern urban space. A common factor characterizes both civilizations: before the introduction of written constitutions, the cities of the West and the East grew without a plan, or a central organization, but when planning began, the organization of the language in use was replicated in the cities it organized. The third path will analyze the recent use of pattern language in contemporary design. The use of the Latin alphabets influenced the formation of an analytic way to look at space in the West, and ideograms influenced the creation of a pluralistic use of space in the East. In the digital age, thanks to the fusion of these two different systems, we foresee a new form of writing coming to life. If language transforms the mental space of writing into physical, real spaces, then new languages should structure the formation of the space of the global metropolis of the 21st century.

Call for proposal

FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IIF
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Coordinator

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Address
Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris
France
Activity type
Other
EU contribution
€ 194 046,60
Administrative Contact
Philippe Cavelier (Mr.)