Manifesto for ‘spirit of place’: the expressive value of signage on Belfast’s arterial routes in representing wider environmental and societal themes.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Commercial signage has a greater presence than any other type of sign in the built environment of cities, conveying a rich tapestry of semiotic codes. While designers are concerned with good practice, invoking semiotic principles, independent retailers with no formal training often create vibrant local signage. Interpreters of signs decode visual information according to their abilities, experiences and needs, but are likely to recognise familiar cultural codes. Signage located within communities, in order to be productive, must speculate the probability of adequately communicating with those who will purchase goods or services, most likely people living nearby. Consequently, commercial signage is often representative of informal community relations, with the spoken language of place gaining physical form through letterforms and cultural connotations expressed through colour and other associated codes. This paper examines signage in the built environment of Belfast’s arterial routes. Photographs demonstrate how local signs, when devoid of civic intervention, can provide a rich resource for interpreting socio-economic, cultural and, in a divided city like Belfast, political underpinnings of place, communicating the true ‘spirit of place’.
LanguageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Et Communication
EditorsBernard Darras, Stephan Vial
Place of PublicationParis, France
Pages77-102
Volume40
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2017

Fingerprint

semiotics
Values
interpreter
spoken language
community
best practice
purchase
ability
resources
economics
experience

Keywords

  • Belfast
  • signage
  • semiotics
  • codes
  • interpretations
  • place
  • environment
  • society
  • culture
  • urban
  • commercial
  • interfaces
  • interspaces
  • peace walls

Cite this

@inbook{5abe83a7cf5644a4b53ed91dd9a8766b,
title = "Manifesto for ‘spirit of place’: the expressive value of signage on Belfast’s arterial routes in representing wider environmental and societal themes.",
abstract = "Commercial signage has a greater presence than any other type of sign in the built environment of cities, conveying a rich tapestry of semiotic codes. While designers are concerned with good practice, invoking semiotic principles, independent retailers with no formal training often create vibrant local signage. Interpreters of signs decode visual information according to their abilities, experiences and needs, but are likely to recognise familiar cultural codes. Signage located within communities, in order to be productive, must speculate the probability of adequately communicating with those who will purchase goods or services, most likely people living nearby. Consequently, commercial signage is often representative of informal community relations, with the spoken language of place gaining physical form through letterforms and cultural connotations expressed through colour and other associated codes. This paper examines signage in the built environment of Belfast’s arterial routes. Photographs demonstrate how local signs, when devoid of civic intervention, can provide a rich resource for interpreting socio-economic, cultural and, in a divided city like Belfast, political underpinnings of place, communicating the true ‘spirit of place’.",
keywords = "Belfast, signage, semiotics, codes, interpretations, place, environment, society, culture, urban, commercial, interfaces, interspaces, peace walls",
author = "Ian Montgomery and Ruth Brolly",
note = "This article was published in both journal and book form. The journal article can be accessed online using the information provided on that deposit: item 37392. The supplementary material for this journal article supports that it may be accessed by all with no embargo. For the book form of the article (i.e. this deposit) there is a two-year embargo, also indicated through uploaded supporting supplementary information. This two-year embargo, for this submission, i.e. item 38468) ends on 07/06/2019. Reference text: Appleyard, D. (1969) Why Buildings Are Known: A Predictive Tool for Architects and Planners. Environment and Behavior, December 1969; vol. 1, http://eab.sagepub.com/content/1/2/131. Barthes, R. & Heath, S. (1977) Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana Press. Belfast City Council Renewing The Routes. http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/business/regeneration/ renewingtheroutes.aspx. Belfast Interface Project, Interfaces Map and Database: Overview of Defensive Architecture. http://www.belfastinterfaceproject.org/interfaces-map-and-database-overview. Belfast Telegraph (2008) Belfast ‘in danger of losing its identity’. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/belfast-in-danger-of-losing-its-identity-28452263.html. Billig, M. (1995), Banal nationalism, London: Sage. Erterp, H., (2009). Chaos Or Homogenization? The Role Of Shop Signs In Transforming Urban Fabric In Beyoğlu, Istanbul. Visual Communication 2009 8. http://vcj.sagepub.com/content/8/3/263. Gibson, J. (1979) The Ecological Approach To Visual Perception. Boston etc; London: Houghton Mifflin. Institute of Historic Building Conservation, http://www.ihbc.org.uk/branches/nireland/index.html. Belfast Buildings Trust, http://www.belfastbuildingstrust.org /partners.php. Hearth Housing, http://www.hearth-housing.org.uk. Jacobs, J. (1992) The Death And Life Of Great American Cities. Vintage Books Edition edn, New York: Random House, Inc. Kinneir, J. (1980) Words and buildings: the art and practice of public lettering. London: Architectural Press. Larkham, P.J. (1996) Conservation And The City. London: Routledge. Lynch, K. (1973) The Image Of The City. Cambridge Mass.; London: M.I.T. Press. McEldowney, M. Sterrett K. and Gaffikin, F. Architectural Ambivalence: the Built Environment and Cultural Identity in Belfast, in Neill, W.J.V. & Schedler, H. (eds) (2001), Urban Planning and Cultural Inclusion. Lessons from Belfast and Berlin. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave. Neill, W.J.V. & Schedler, H. (2001), Urban Planning And Cultural Inclusion. Lessons From Belfast And Berlin. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave. Patton, M. & Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (1993), Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer. Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. Rykwert, J. (2000) The Seduction Of Place: The City In The Twentieth-First Century, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Somers, J. Why Northern Ireland's 'Peace Walls' Show No Signs Of Following Berlin's Example. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/03/peace-walls-northern-ireland_n_6093634.html. Switzer, C and McDowell, S (2009) Redrawing cognitive maps of conflict: Lost spaces and forgetting in the centre of Belfast. http://mss.sagepub.com/content/2/3/337. William, J.V. Neill and H. Schedler, eds. (2001) Urban planning and Cultural Inclusion Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, Macmillan. Wilson, J. Q., Kelling, G. L. (1982) The Police And Neighborhood Safety: Broken Windows.
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/atlantic_monthly-broken_windows.pdf.",
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Manifesto for ‘spirit of place’: the expressive value of signage on Belfast’s arterial routes in representing wider environmental and societal themes. / Montgomery, Ian; Brolly, Ruth.

Design Et Communication. ed. / Bernard Darras; Stephan Vial. Vol. 40 Paris, France, 2017. p. 77-102.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/atlantic_monthly-broken_windows.pdf.

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