Kalantzis and Cope on the Grammar of the Spatial


What do the meanings refer to?

  • How have particular spaces been presented, in plan or in reality? (e.g. edges, boundaries, volumes, topographical features of a building or a landscape).
    • How is the movement or positioning of people influenced by the space? (e.g. flows, places of momentary stillness).
    • How is location referred to? (e.g. placement, proximity/distance).
    • How is time referred to? (e.g. time/space transpositions such as a five minute walk, a one day drive).
    • How are things positioned in space? (e.g. a picture on a wall, an icon on a screen).
  • How have abstract elements or general concepts been defined? (e.g. symbols used on plans or to help navigate around a space).
  • How are the characteristics of space defined? (e.g. quantities and qualities of size or scale, continuity/repetition, more/less).
  • How are spatial relations defined? (e.g. part/whole, possession, joining/not joining, sameness/contrast).



How do the meanings connect the people in the action and the people who are communicating?

  • How are spatial elements related? (conventions of front/back, points of entry/points of destination, outside views/inside views).
  • How are the connections between persons, spaces and objects configured? (e.g. ground level, floor levels, viewing heights).
  • How is movement anticipated and directed? (e.g. navigation paths in walkways, roads, train lines, flight paths).
  • How is the user positioned? (e.g. the point of view constructed for the viewer, perspective, degree of detachment/involvement).



How does the overall meaning hold together?

  • How are the spatial elements arranged? (e.g. in a whole architectonic space or landscape, where one space ends and other starts, how the spaces are engineered to hold together or how they cohere)
  • How is the space sectioned? (e.g. left <-> right; top <-> bottom, centre <-> margin).
  • What does the space point out? (e.g. prominent/hidden aspects or functions).
  • How does the space form an integrated whole?
  • How are multiple spaces chained? (e.g. rooms in a building, buildings in a streetscape, cities in a landscape).
  • How is the space defined by its media? (e.g. construction materials).



How are the meanings shaped by where they are situated?

  • What is the location of the space? How does it point to its surroundings and its surroundings point to it? (e.g. settings assumed or referred to which are beyond the space, for instance a tree in a cityscape compared to a tree in a forest).
  • How does the space integrate or differentiate its insides and its outsides? (warm/cool, bright/dark, open/secure, public-ness/privacy, enclosure/vista, divided/open).
  • What does the space assume about the field of movement of its users? (e.g. the functional or aesthetic expectations they may bring to the space, or spatial restrictions by social role such as in prisons and banks).
  • What references does the space make? (e.g. spatial metaphors such as ‘this luxury store is like a rich person’s house’, or battlements around prisons).
  • What resemblances and differences in overall composition does the space have with other spaces and space-making traditions (e.g. design motifs, building types, landscape forms).



Whose interests do these meanings serve?

  • How is space structured around certain priorities? (e.g. housing versus travel).
  • How is the space selectively configured to support a position or affirm a role or stance? (e.g. the visible/the hidden, the public/the private, the lockable/the unlockable, its presences/absences, foregrounding-backgrounding, suggestive navigation paths, how the space is designed for certain social practices).
  • Whose interests does the space support? (e.g. the shopping mall compared to the park).
  • What range of alternatives for action does the space suggest for the user? (e.g. from the positioning of different types of user, such as cooks, waiters and clients in a restaurant).


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