Polyhedral communication in architecture

Belén Butragueño Díaz-Guerra, Javier Fco. Raposo Grau, María Asunción Salgado de la Rosa

DOI: https://doi.org/10.20868/abe.2021.1.4566

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There are multiple communicative strategies in architecture depending on the target audience. The mechanisms of representation may radically vary when the recipient is the client, the constructor, the curator, a colleague or even an instructor (1). As an example, the approach may be mainly visual when the target is the client. However, it may be strictly structural to start a conversation with a peer ad mostly conceptual when pointing to the jury members in a competition. In certain cases, the adaptation of the graphic language to the different scenarios leads to such a distortion on the message that the original project is hardly recognizable. To illustrate this point, the article will focus on the project of the Public Seattle Library, designed by the architect Rem Koolhaas. The analysis of five different communicative strategies of the project show peculiar and unequal graphic narrations: from the concept book of the competition, the website of LMN (the American partners of Rem Koolhaas- OMA in this particular project), the website of OMA, the coverage on the Seattle press, the Library Brochure for teenagers and the approach developed on the "Content" book. Rem Koolhaas coined the concept of "design of information" to express the fundamental relationship between the message and media in architecture. In his practice, the communicative strategy is present from the beginning of the design process till the final stages. In this article, the thoughtful comparison of these examples will enable to extract conclusions on the use of communication in architectural design and reflect on the iconic and communicative dimension of architecture in general.

Palabras clave

Communication; Approach; Information; Design; Analysis


G. Bateson, “Steps to an Ecology of Mind”, Jason Aronson Inc., San Francisco, 1972.

Shannon Matter, How Public Is the Seattle Public Library? Publicity, Posturing, and Politics in Public Design”. Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Sep., 2003): 5-18.

OMA, R. Koolhaas, “Seattle Public” in Content, Germany, Taschen, 2004, 138-149

Seattle Public Library. “Concept Book for the New Central Library”. Accessed May 1, 2016. http://www.spl.org/locations/central-library/cenbuilding-facts/cen-omalmn-conceptbook

LMN Architects. “Seattle Public Library”. Accessed May 1, 2016. http://lmnarchitects.com/project/seattlecentral-library

R. Venturi, S. Izenour, D. Scott Brown, “Aprendiendo de Las Vegas (El simbolismo olvidado de la forma arquitectónica)”. Barcelona: G. Gili, 1978.

B. Butragueño, “Rem a los dos lados del espejo”, PhD diss., Polytechnic University of Madrid, 2015

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