The Homeless Romantic Podcast
The Homeless Romantic Podcast
Erica Robles-Anderson Ph.D. | The Hidden Messages of Architecture | #137 HR

My friend Erica Robles-Anderson stops by to discuss technology, media, design and architecture.

We discuss the role of modern architecture and the messages we get from our environment. We also talk about the ways technology should be implemented in more communal ways. 

She tells the story of a building turned into a tech savvy “Mega-Church.” and the effects religion has on humanity through these buildings. This is an amazing conversation with an incredible human being!

Erica Robles-Anderson is an Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her research focuses on the intersection of media technologies and space, with a particular interest in the ways in which media shape public and collective experiences. She employs a range of methodologies, drawing on her background in experimental psychology and cultural history, to explore the definition of media-space.

Currently, she is writing a book on the transformation of Protestant worship space into highly mediated, spectacular “mega-churches.”Prior to joining NYU, Erica was a Research Fellow in New Media and Architecture at the University of Umeå in Sweden.

She holds a Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University. Her publications include “Mediating Eternity: The Crystal Cathedral and the Architecture of Mediated Congregation” (Yale University Press, under contract) and “Blind Spots: Religion in Media Studies” (Flow Media Journal).Erica teaches courses on media and architecture, including “Architecture as Media: Communication through the Built Environment.”

Through the analysis of a range of spaces, from Gothic cathedrals to digital cities, students learn to read spatial productions and understand how material and technological designs are in conversation with the social over time.

What are the Hidden Messages in Architecture

Architecture, like any other art form, can convey hidden messages and meanings beyond its functional purpose. Here are some examples of hidden messages in architecture:

  1. Symbolism: Many architects incorporate symbolic references in their designs, such as the use of specific materials, colors, shapes, or patterns that carry cultural, religious, or historical significance. For instance, Gothic cathedrals often feature pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and stained-glass windows that symbolize heavenward aspiration, Christian iconography, and divine light.
  2. Power and control: Architecture can reflect and reinforce power dynamics in society, such as through the size, shape, and location of buildings. For example, government buildings, palaces, and churches are often grandiose and imposing structures that signify authority and hierarchy. Conversely, prisons, barracks, and factories are typically utilitarian and monotonous buildings that reflect a lack of autonomy and freedom.
  3. Ideology and propaganda: Architecture has been used as a tool for political propaganda, such as through the monumental architecture of fascist regimes or the socialist realism of Soviet architecture. In these cases, architecture was intended to convey ideological messages of national pride, strength, and unity.
  4. Environmental and social consciousness: Some architects use their designs to raise awareness about environmental and social issues, such as sustainability, community-building, and human rights. For example, green buildings incorporate eco-friendly materials and technologies to reduce energy consumption and promote environmental responsibility, while social housing projects aim to provide affordable and equitable living spaces for marginalized communities.

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