The Word-Collector: Urban Narratives and ‘Word-Designs’

  • Angeliki
 Sioli Louisiana State University


Engaging the example of “The Word-Collector” project – an experimental design studio taught recently in the Post Professional Masters, School of Architecture, McGill University – this paper discusses a literary approach in architectural design; one that explores the possibilities of written language as a tool of architectural representation. The paper presents the theoretical background of the approach discussing the importance of language for architecture, explains the project’s specific stages, documents selected outcomes, and concludes by elaborating on the implications of the suggested pedagogy for architectural education nowadays.

This linguistic architectural design process developed in three stages. Through their word-collections and the related narratives, the students engaged in a unique understanding of the city. Deliberately framing perception and forcing a personal, emotional engagement, the city revealed deeper inter-subjective meanings. Through the different forms and modes of writing, engaged during the project’s second part, the students attempted to envision an appropriate architectural space responding to both the city and the program. Lastly, oral language and narrative forms became a way to speak about the experience in the imagined new places on behalf of its potential future users. The ‘Word-Collector’ put forward a ‘theoretical project,’ a fully autonomous architectural design vision constructed solely of words.


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Author Biography

 Sioli, Louisiana State University

Angeliki Sioli is assistant professor of architecture at Louisiana State University, USA, and a licensed architect in Greece. She has taught at University Tec de Monterrey in Mexico and McGill University in Canada, where she completed her PhD in history and theory of architecture in 2015. Her research seeks connections between architecture and literature in the public realm of the early twentieth-century European city while also looking into pedagogical aspects of architectural education. It has been published in a number of edited books and journals, as well as presented at interdisciplinary conferences. It also appears in the book she recently co-edited titled Reading Architecture: Literary Imagination and Architectural Experience(Routledge, 2018). The volume touches on the interdisciplinary field of architecture and literature and was the outcome of the international symposium of the same name she co-organized in Athens, Greece in 2015.


How to Cite
SIOLI, Angeliki
. The Word-Collector: Urban Narratives and ‘Word-Designs’. Writingplace, [S.l.], n. 1, p. 90-100, apr. 2018. ISSN 2589-7691. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 26 may 2020. doi: