Form as Affordance: The Theoretical Basis and Conceptual Framework for the Meaning of Architecture

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD Candidate, University Lecturer, Saba Faculty of Art and Architecture, Kerman Shahid Bahonar University

2 Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University


Widely interpreted through different architectural discourses, form has emerged as a dynamic and slippery concept. Aiming at a rethinking of the concept in contemporary architectural discourse, the present paper explains theoretical bases and conceptual framework of considering form as an affordance. In order to do so, the paper starts with exploring some transforming influences on the contemporary concept of form, and moves on to introduce affordance as an interpretation of form corresponding the above influences. It then expands on the concept of affordance in order to explain some conceptual evolutions of its presence in the architectural discourse.
The paper ascertains a key role for the concept of meaning in rethinking form, and that with the introduction of affordance in architecture’s conceptual constellation comes a clarification of the meaning, providing responses to two key problems of meaning, namely, interactions between the subject and the object, and having a holistic view. This will result in a new understanding of the physical and the functional, aspect of architecture making way to go beyond their perceived schism. It is owing to drawing up new concepts of affordance, and the arousal of new concerns and considerations in architectural thought. Attempts are made here, therefore, to introduce concepts of action field, affordance layers, affordance domain, affordance quality, and affordance polarity, each reflecting the recent developments in architectural thought encountering the concept of affordance. 


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