How does architecture communicate? In 2001 the Italian authors Roberto De Rubertis and Matteo Clemente explored this subject in their book on perception and visual communication in architecture and gave and interesting list of ten morphemes used in architecture to communicate. According to their study, a group four morphemes relate to structure, form, distribution and furniture, while all the remaining six morphemes essentially relate to surface. In fact, the authors mention some signs that can be referred to the materials used, such as surface structure (with optical, acoustical and tactile properties), colour (e.g. contrasts and juxtapositions), light (e.g. direct or indirect illumination), icons (e.g. images and symbols) and writing.
The “communication skills” of architecture therefore seem to be closely related to people’s perception. A Scientific Autobiography by Aldo Rossi reminds us that seeing is also remembering, as we associate new perceptions to memories. We could then say that a communicative space is an evocative space.
Bruder Klaus Chapel by Peter Zumthor. Photo by Eleonora Nicoletti