UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The reliance on aesthetic codes in contemporary architectural criticism Torsteinsrud, Ragnhild Kirsti


On an analytical level this study addresses architectural aesthetics; its structure; and the application of such a direction to architectural criticism. Aesthetics is an aspect of architecture that, even though not crucial to the utilitarian purposes of building, influence our everyday appreciation of the environment. Our sense of the aesthetic is developed through culture as well as education and aesthetic judgement is based on experience, reason, and preference. In architecture the aesthetic is expressed through built form; the shape and arrangement of forms; space; light; and materials. Architectural aesthetics is thus understood as incorporating both values and form. Through an examination of contemporary theories in architecture the essence and structure of architectural aesthetics may be explained. The notion of codes, as a tool for the understanding of meaning attribution, is seen as a valid concept through which it is possible to link aesthetics and architectural form. The nature of the aesthetic code is examined through an analysis of all major available critical texts for a selection of buildings in comparison with their formal articulations. This procedure makes possible a systemic collection of aesthetic connotations associated with specific formal arrangements and indicates that there are certain ways in which form can be linked to aesthetic value. These types of relationships, or aesthetic codes, are further examined and are classified as associational, architectural, or spatial according to the cognitive and perceptive responses they evoke. The use of these codes as tools in architectural aesthetic criticism is discussed in one critical example. The thesis concludes that the notion of codes can be applied to architectural aesthetics. Furthermore, such a theory is useful for the understanding of architectural criticism and thereby provides a concept which can be related both to aesthetic theory and critical practice.

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