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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

5 Issues per year

ERIH category 2011: INT2



Space complexity and architectural conception: Revisiting Alberti's treatise

Albert Levy1


Citation Information: Semiotica. Volume 2009, Issue 175, Pages 253–267, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: 10.1515/semi.2009.048, June 2009

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The spatial complexity of architecture is postulated to be its main feature by some architects such as L. B. Alberti (1485). We will discuss and compare his definition of architectural space consisting of three registers (necessitas, commoditas, voluptas) with our five registers (urban space, use space, aesthetic space, bioclimatic space, plastic space). In the same way, we will also look into the analysis by F. Choay (La règle et le modèle, Seuil, 1980) of Alberti's treatise. This comparison aims at drawing out differences and commonalities between Alberti's approach of architectural space complexity — primarily how spatial synthesis becomes possible in the project — and ours. This synthesis, or register integration, which is absent in Alberti's work, cannot solely be explained with a simple text presentation, or with a register hierarchy as F. Choay thinks. We propose the concept of synthesis meta-operator to tackle the fusion of registers and pinpoint the role of reference in the project. We will examine how Alberti makes this synthesis in his architectural project as well as the meta-operators he uses. We will conclude by distinguishing generativity and genesis in the theoretical study of conception. One must revisit architectural treatises.

Keywords:: architectural conception; Alberti; architectural space; architectural theory; semiotic of architecture; spatial register

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