Graphic design as urban design: towards a theory for analysing graphic objects in urban environments.

Harland, Robert George (2011) Graphic design as urban design: towards a theory for analysing graphic objects in urban environments. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis presents a model for analysing the graphic object as urban object, by considering atypical fields of discourse that contribute to the formation of the object domain. The question: what is graphic design as urban design? directs the research through an epistemological design study comprising: an interrogation of graphic design studio practice and the articulation of graphic design research questions; a review and subsequent development of research strategy, design and method towards the articulation of methodology that reflects the nature of the inquiry; a detailed analysis of five different ways to study and research graphic design as urban design, in geography, language, visual communication, art and design, and urban design. The outcome of the investigation is a model that enables future research in the urban environment to benefit from micro-meso-macrographic analysis.

The model endeavours to provide a way to evaluate, design and enhance ‘public places and urban spaces’ by considering different scales of symbolic thought and deed. This has been achieved by acknowledging the relationship between the relatively miniscule detail of graphic symbolism, the point at which this becomes visible through increased scale, and the instances when it dominates the urban realm. Examples are considered that show differences between, for example, the size and spacing of letter shapes on a pedestrian sign, compared to the ‘visual’ impact of an iconic building in the cityscape. In between is a myriad of graphic elements that are experienced and designed by many different professional disciplines and occupations. These are evidenced and explained.

Throughout the study an indiscriminating literature review is interwoven with the text, accompanied by tabular information, and visual data in the form of photographs and diagrams. This is mainly research-driven data utilising photographs from fieldwork in Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Portugal, South Korea, United Kingdom, and United States of America. The methodology integrates a transdisciplinary adaptive theory approach derived from sociological research, with graphic method (utilising a wider scope of visual data usually associated with graph theory). The following images provide sixteen examples of artefacts representing the graphic object as urban object phenomenon.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Heath, Tim
Trache, Hitchem
Uncontrolled Keywords:graphic design, urban design, urban environments, graphic objects, signs, signage
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
ID Code:2350
Deposited By:Dr Robert George Harland
Deposited On:28 Mar 2012 11:54
Last Modified:28 Mar 2012 11:54

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