VISUAL RHETORIC IN ARCHITECTURE: Analysis and criticism through graphic representation

Peter Šenk

Assoc. Prof., PhD, University of Maribor, SLOVENIA,


Architectural analysis and criticism follows observation, reflection and interpretation of the object of study. Depending on the approach and perspective chosen, the focus can range from a comprehensive contextualisation of the cultural environment and physical setting to an analysis of the technical solutions and details. Traditional criticism aims to grasp the whole and verbally points out the specifics, references, strengths and weaknesses in a written text that supports itself with architectural drawings and photographs. However, the study of built architecture, understood in its multiple contexts, can strive for more open interpretations. The theoretical discourse of the ‘iconic’ or ‘pictorial’ turn refers to the contemporary consideration of the visual, whether in art or in everyday life, which expresses itself and attracts our attention through and with images, thereby reinforcing the role such images play in society. In this context, the importance and necessity of visual thinking and knowledge of visual rhetoric has also been highlighted in contemporary pedagogy. Architectural thinking can thus be encouraged to use alternative tools in two ways: as an adaptation to the conditions of the visual world and as an opportunity to develop alternative ways of interpretation. In contemporary architecture, the practice of graphic representation is often used by architects to communicate their ideas, concepts and intentions about proposed projects, while their analyses or critiques are traditionally verbal. This paper presents a selection of graphic interpretations that illustrate the analysis, reflection and representation of contemporary architectural projects. Graphic interpretations demonstrate the capacity of the visual approach to go beyond the construction drawing and the representation of the physical appearance of the building. This move implies a context that incorporates and surpasses the purely material contextuality. This context is not always directly visible in built architecture, even less in the image presented in the media. Therefore, a deeper insight is required to understand an individual work. Graphic representation is shown as a tool to analyse, evaluate, speculate on and interpret the complexity of built architecture, and to show it in critical, affirmative, ironic, revealing or narrative ways.

Keywords: visual rhetoric, analysis, graphic representation, contemporary architecture.



CITATION: Abstracts & Proceedings of DARCH 2023 April - 4th International Conference On Architecture & Design, 17-18 April 2023

ISBN: 978-605-72065-1-0