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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Semiotics of Poundbury



Back in the 1970s, I became quite interested in semiotics and semiology, and I studied works by Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco (eg A Theory of Semiotics). The sad news of Eco's death made me think again about signs and semiotics.

Without attempting to decode or analyse the semiotic connotations or polysemous references of these signs and architectural features, here are some images of Poundbury, Dorchester. There is not exactly an absence of signs, signage and signifiers in the environment. Some are temporary, some are signs and signifiers in the making. Architectural and decorative details can stand for wider concepts, values, social priorities and aesthetic visions to which they are related.

I will collect some more in future. NB - I am an admirer of the planning and design of Poundbury and most of its varied architectural styles and features.

Marking out the tribal territory*:






The Colour of the Building - Imperial Yellow

"Yellow, corresponding with earth, is considered the most beautiful and prestigious colour. The Chinese saying, Yellow generates Yin and Yang, implies that yellow is the centre of everything. Associated with but ranked above brown, yellow signifies neutrality and good luck. Yellow is sometimes paired with red in place of gold. Yellow was the emperor's colour in Imperial China and is held as the symbolic colour of the five legendary emperors of ancient China. Yellow often decorates royal palaces, altars and temples, and the colour was used in the robes and attire of the emperors" (Wikipedia) - cf  Schönbrunn Schloss,Vienna, etc.

















































,

Missing Ted...and the old sign (Prince Charles' Tribute to Ted Hughes)

































Below - from the useful publication on design principles - "Poundbury Design Guidance"
 (text and sketches by Planning Consultant Mervyn Miller)








The three photographs above taken November 2, 2016

An international periodical I edited for some years in the 1970s:



See also Dorset Voices: A Collection of New Prose, Poetry and Photography
 edited by 'Poundbury Voices', Roving Press




*On the importance of tribal territory in the development of the landscape (from The Making of the British Landscape. Francis Pryor (p.30):

"Once communities have identified a tract of country as belonging to them, they can treat it appropriately, marking out boundaries...It is a process that can foster peace within a particular tribe but there is also the potential for conflict with other communities nearby. The laying out of tribal territories began a process of staking out and of subdivision of the landscape that has continued into the neatly partitioned suburban gardens of the present day"

Update from The Sunday Times, April 9, 2017


Come to Poundbury, and admire the architectural detail and variety - as I do.

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