Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

The Figures of Charles Jencks, "Semiology and Architecture"

Team: Project Timeframe: 2012-2015

This dissertation addresses the Charles Jencks text “Semiology and Architecture”, a chapter in Meaning in Architecture, edited by Jencks and George Baird and published in 1969. The book is a significant artefact of a programme in the English-language discourse to promote a concerted theoretical engagement with architecture. Its explicit concern huddles under the umbrella term semiology. The discourse is strongly related to structuralism and associates itself with social sciences including linguistics and psycholinguistics, philosophy and logical pragmatics, sociology and anthropology, and perceptual and experimental psychology. Architectural semiology can be seen as a part of or contributor to the culture-wide phenomenon referred to as the theory moment. Historiographic understandings of this period routinely narrate this period and its concern for theory as an agent-lead turn or shift. The reverberations of this construction continue to structure the architectural discourse and discipline. Through textual analysis of primary material, this dissertation will challenge this established meaning, and contribute a novel and valuable historical understanding of the period.

Related Publications: 
  • Andrew P Steen, “Operation Marginalia: Translations of Semiology and Architecture.” In Translations: 31st Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, edited by Christoph Schnoor (Auckland NZ: SAHANZ, 2014): 345-354.

  • Andrew P Steen, “Jencks's Semiological History: ‘Pop — Non Pop’.” In Open: 30th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, edited by Alexandra Brown and Andrew Leach (Gold Coast AU: SAHANZ, 2013): 3-15.

  • Andrew P Steen, “Epigraphs, Poetics, Architectural History.” In Fabulation: Myth, Nature, Heritage: 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand, edited by Stuart King, Anuradha Chatterjee and Stephen Loo (Launceston AU: SAHANZ, 2012): 1035-1051.