Architect Sari Tähtinen has added a new, intriguing chapter on theory of architecture with her dissertation Writing architecture: Textual image practices – a textual approach in architectural research (Aalto ARTS Books, 2013). The thesis discusses the fluctuating and unsteady character of images in contemporary architectural discourse.
According to Tähtinen, the architect works, above all, with images. The architect is an image-maker. Tähtinen suggests, however, that the question of image is no simple issue. Rather, images are complex, multi-layered textual structures. The appearing image differs from one viewer to the next. Different elements influence the formations of an image, and different layers of images take part in this formation.
The dissertation proposes a ‘textual approach’ which can provide a tool to capture the intricate image-making and image-reading systems in action. The concept refers to the research stance inspired by the work of Jacques Derrida the readings of whom, as discussed by Tähtinen, have not been exhausted in the context of architectural research.
Tähtinen explores her reading of Derrida’s textual approach with reference to a complex large-scale urban project, Euralille. It is an example of the massive scale of contemporary urban planning. Such a work is no longer identifiable or limitable in a simple manner. Consequently, large-scale urban projects such as Euralille cannot be handled and mastered through images as conceived or worked with in the traditional way.
Sari Tähtinen, architect M.Sc., PhD, works as a postdoctoral researcher in the Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group YTK at Aalto University, Department of Real Estate, Planning and Geoinformatics.