Reading building: A Gadamerian account of architecture
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This thesis brings Gadamer’s philosophy of art to bear on the experience of built space. I argue that Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics, as an approach that proposes understanding as situated and relational, is applicable to a range of architectural experiences. Further, I argue that his philosophical hermeneutics helps us to understand the particular kind of attentiveness that is manifested by a curious, historically effective consciousness engaging meaningfully with the built world. I begin by critically examining the concept of the horizon in Gadamer's thought and its productivity for an account of the built world. Following this, I investigate the constituent components of the horizon of Gadamer's lifeworld: language, tradition and culture. I then appraise the themes of play, necessary decoration and the analogy between the interpretation of the built world and act of reading. I argue that Gadamer not only provides useful ways of thinking about the built world exposing fruitful tensions between the viewer and the built world as a site of interpretation.