Language as structure for memory communities

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Architecture is a language - an intense cultural and historical force. This thesis will expound how architecture reflects, and contributes to, an identity via spoken language and diachronic cultural signals. While our built world is not easily reduced to literally grammatical morphemes, architecture offers equally meaningful, albeit abstract, messages of semiotic importance. I believe it is our individual and collective rendering of language that affords the promise of multiple understandings and creative solutions. Yet, the messages presented and perceived by our designed surroundings, at home and abroad, remain largely under-analyzed and discounted as prospective remedies to universal problems. Our built environment speaks enormously about our past and future, social priorities, demographic fluxes, aesthetic proclivities, etc. Ultimately, it is the world we construct which conveys our identity and prompts recognition of each other and ourselves. I accept a future where architecture obliges a global acuity that acknowledges an associative, multi-presence of cultures and can translate an identifiable 'local' character. Similarly, an architectural disparity manifest from a multilingual society affords a unique opportunity to study how language might be structured, to influence a formative role in architecting a pluralist future. This thesis will consider how the protracted marginalization of a culture and the gradual forfeiture of its language challenge how a cultural 'memory' is sustained - despite a steady linguistic and architectural regression. In fact, contrasting architectural and linguistic practices used by burgeoning communities, this thesis will examine how economic and geographic isolation have led moribund minorities to an assortment of survival strategies, including - aside from emigration or assimilation - a dependence on mythologized culture and the memorializing of architecture as bastions for identity and remembering a common history. If identity is memory, then the linguistic vestiges of a place offer a chance to recall and re-imagine an architectural lingo that fortifies a prior history, so as to re-contextualize a shared future in a country, and in a world, of competing cultural identities. This thesis will explore how architecture may inherently propagate a 'dialogue' in multilingual domains, for a temporal dissemination of identity by virtue of memory communities.




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