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Additional resources for Architecture as Symbol and Self-Identity
From my own experience here in Fez I made a map of all the existing mosques, more than two hundred, which have minarets. I was astonished to see the regularity of the disposition of these minarets. I drew circles of audibility around each point indicating a minaret and calculated that the average voice of the muezzin could be heard in a circle of about sixty-two metres. I discovered that the whole city plan is covered by these circles. So that really, before there is even the division into quarters, there is the minimal community around the minaret which clearly shows the sound genesis of the town.
The second point I would like to make is the fact that an object contains a sign. This tells you what that object is but does not necessarily confer upon that object the quality of being a symbol. I think an example would be simply to imagine a Koranic inscription being placed on the wrong kinds of buildings in Islamic cities. Alternatively, they may be the right kinds of buildings, but perhaps in a Western culture the inscriptions would be entirely incongruous, that is, in a place where the presence of the sign on a particular object simply does not achieve symbolic meaning for those who wish to perceive it.
In the search for form, which is, after all, what the architect is faced with, the exact curvature of the arch may make the difference between the building's capacity to connote as compared to the building's capacity simply to absorb more scathing criticism. The search for form is dominated exactly by questions such as what are the appropriate forms and which combinations of inscriptions and forms make the most sense. I think I an evincing here a style of thinking like that of the architect. By that I mean to place it in some kind of perspective and not to insulate it from criticism.