Takahashi, Iwao (2013-12). Peircean Interpretation of Postmodern Architecture. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The influence of philosophy on architectural theory contributes to the formulation of architectural theory in the history of architecture. This relationship created the oscillation of architectural theory between rationalism and romanticism reflecting the woven tendency of philosophy such as enlightenment and counter- enlightenment movement. This dissertation research focuses on architectural language theory which maintains a tight relationship with the philosophy of language. Postmodern architecture during the period of the 1970s through 1980s is examined to determine meanings of architecture, and the language theory of architecture. It followed the philosophy of language originated from Ferdinand de Saussure who influenced theorists, and explicitly sign theorists influenced by Charles Sanders Peirce. This theoretical underpinning of language theory is questionable because of an inappropriate application of the sign theory of Charles Sanders Peirce in terms of principal interpretation of language structure, dyadic and triadic type of language. This research re-interprets the meaning of architecture during postmodern period along with Peirce's semeiotic theory, and American Pragmatism that Peirce originally invented. The collection of evidence from architectural history and the influence from philosophy provides a conceptual sketch that the oscillation of theoretical tendency is the source of architectural creation. This creative process is analyzable based on Peirce's sign theory and his logic. The research applies current Peircean scholars' development including 'Peircean Algebraic Logic' by Robert W. Burch to develop a conceptual model to frame Peircean interpretation. The multiple-case study (four architects with eight architectures) demonstrates the effectiveness of the conceptual model to facilitate a Peircean interpretation of postmodern scenographic architecture and contextual postmodern architecture. The results of this interpretation draws the limitation of some type of scenographic architecture that uses a proxy referential method, while Pragmatism provides the contents to Postmodernism's needs that is parallel to architectural theory.

publication date

  • December 2013