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Space, Place and the Discursive Construction of Identity


Julia Bamford, Franca Poppi and Davide Mazzi

Over the last few years there has been a burgeoning interest in both space and place as linguistic phenomena. Some of this interest stemmed from studies on the situatedness of language and speech in time and space and how deixis anchors speech to a context. Both our frame of reference with respect to surrounding space and how we conceive and describe it are closely linked to the language we speak. This is why different cultures perceive spatial relations differently, with speakers of one language, for instance, encoding spatial relations with respect to absolute directions while speakers of a different language use egocentric terms.
This book focuses on space, place and the discursive construction of identity in the present, globalized era, where technological developments are causing a change in the perception of spatial boundaries and geographical locations, and identities are experienced in hitherto unknown ways.
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Language, Space and Body: Sensing and Construing Built Space through Metaphor: Rosario Caballero


In his book Architectural Composition, a classic in architectural education, Rob Krier stated that

Shapes and atmospheres of spaces can be described […] More difficult is the description of the quality of a space. Very often when we describe their character, we talk about small, spacious, low, high, oppressive, friendly, comfortable, cold or warm rooms. Very often for these appraisals of a space not only its geometry but also its attributes are crucial. (Krier 1988: 72; emphasis added)

Here Krier brings forward some of the topics addressed in this chapter, namely, the shortcomings of spatial descriptions solely focused on what buildings look like as visually apprehended, i.e. their “geometry” or dimensions (as in “small”, “low” or “high”). For him, these qualities go hand in hand with attributes like comfort, friendliness or oppression, all of them equally basic and involving senses other than sight. A few years later, Juhani Pallasmaa advocated for an architecture of the senses, fleshing out some of the attributes in Krier’s description of ‘good’ design. Thus, according to Pallasmaa

during the design process, the architect gradually internalises the landscape, the entire context, and the functional requirements as well as his/her conceived building: movement, balance and scale are felt unconsciously through the body […] As the work interacts with the body of the observer, the experience mirrors the bodily sensations of the maker. Consequently, architecture is communication from the body of the architect directly to the body of the person who encounters the work...

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