International Association for the Semiotics of Space and Time, IASSp+T

This Meeting aims to discuss the concept of place and sign in architecture. For this discussion, we propose here some notes on the term "place".

.....From a semiotic point of view, place can be understood as a statement, constructed or not, susceptible to be modified by the human being, in particular through architecture and urban production of space. The human being perceives this production of space not only visually, but also using action, gesture and touch and all the senses.

.....According to A.J. Greimas (Greimas, A. J., Courtės, J., Semiotics and Language. An Analytical Dictionary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), space starts from the extensiveness, which refers to space as a continuous and undifferentiated dimension of reality. On the contrary, when we consider extensiveness as a human construct, i.e. place, it is characterized as discontinuous and differentiated.

.....The divisions of extent effected by social space are not all inserted on the same isotopy. Isotopies are interlaced according to the lines of force extended by exchanges between places. Social energetics finds its regulation in a spatial economy that distinguishes and links, with spaces of the centre, spaces of the periphery; with collective spaces, individual spaces; and with public spaces, private spaces. Whether by reason of the centrality of some of its components, the density of their population or the privacy of their property, types of divisions of the extent are rare. The extent is the target of exchanges between actors; it is the object of their desires and not merely the means of their actions. The distribution of divisions of the extent is managed in processes of creation and procedures to eliminate the lack of space, notably architectural procedures. According to Kim Dovey (Framing Places: Mediating Power in Built Form, Routledge,1999), the term “place” gained popularity among architects in period 1970-1990, associated notably with phenomenology, and especially with Frampton's Critical Regionalism (1983) and Schultz's Genius Loci (1980,85).

.....The matter "extent" is such that two separate bodies cannot occupy the same place at the same time except by merging closely with each other. The spatial economy of the divisions of extent orders their juxtaposition. It organizes them in such a way that they respond to each other; it affords bodies the possibility of succeeding one another in spaces and times in which stating interacts with statement (Pellegrino, P. «Semiotic of space», Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, Elsevier, Oxford, 2005).

.....There is a narrative organization peculiar to the spatial economy of the divisions of extent. This organization opposes and relates to one another spaces modalized according to the position of the subject, the economic actor of a symbolic exchange. These modalized spaces are spaces objects of the exchange, spaces terms of reference of the exchange and spaces of centration of the exchange on the point of view of that which emits (or receives) the symbolic values.

.....So, to discuss the relevance of architectural values in this exchange, questions can be addressed to the architects:

  • Are the signs of the place object of relevant interpretations and responses by contemporary architecture? and / or have they been in other times, and in what way?

  • Place and not place, is there transgression and change of meaning from semiotic differentiation?

  • In contemporary architecture, do meaning, sign and form configure responsible system? Or, on the contrary, can different formal strategies appear that allow transgressing their meanings and interpretations?

  • Can the Bakhtinian dialogue as a system of relations correct semiotic alterations in architecture and urban form? Is the dialogue necessary in this system?

Taking in consideration these questions, the participants to this meeting have to send their abstract of intervention (maximum one half page) by the end of march to the General Secretary of IASSp+T, Dragana Vasilski, e-mail address: and at the same time to the Vice-president Luis Angel Dominguez,

Given the many uncertainties surrounding the spread of Covid-19, we have decided to reschedule the regular meeting of the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time (IASSp+T) - SEMIOTICS OF SPACE: ARCHITECTURE, PLACE AND SIGN, we announce that the abstract submission deadline is extended to 30th of June 2020.

Depending on the development of the situation all over the world, you will receive by the next two months information about the time and place of the meeting. 

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