The perception of abstract symbolism and its effect on political architecture : towards a Pan African Parliament in Durban.
The focus of this research is in the area of political architecture and the way it has been affected by the way people perceive architectural symbols that represent abstract political agendas and ideologies. Such a study is important in order to create political buildings that respond better to their region and the society present there. The research approach adopted in this dissertation includes an extensive study of relevant literature and the implementation of practical research through case studies of the Apartheid Museum and Constitutional Court, using semi-structured interviews with key figures and standard questionnaires to the general public visiting the buildings. The findings from this research provide evidence that people’s perception of abstract symbolism represented architecturally is affected by their age, familiarity with architecture and level of education. Furthermore, it was found that political architecture should embody the true nature of its region and the society, while still representing the political agenda of the present power. The main conclusion being that the abstract political message becomes positively interpreted and adopted by the society, and the building becomes the physical symbol of that abstract political intent. This dissertation argues for a political architecture that symbolises the diverse identities of all South Africans so that the architecture can, through its symbolism, bring about positive social change.