Iconism as a tool for social identity : a proposed city hall for Durban.
The concept of iconic architecture has been around for thousands of years. It has taken the form of great structures that have portrayed powerful messages, to impress and to intimidate society, from the pyramids and tombs of Egypt to the great Gothic cathedrals in Italy. It is by these structures that individuals have been exonerated and great nations have been identified. This concept is still very much prevalent today. Great structures and monuments fill the landscape, providing local and national identity and power to many communities and cities across the world. Today, icons bear the responsibility to represent more than just individuals and corporate structures but rather to provide an identity for every part of society. This document aims to understand this new role that icons have to play in society and how iconic architecture can facilitate the representation of a group of people through capturing their identity. This is an important opportunity for communities and nations to uplift and develop themselves as units of strength, on a local and international scale. To understand the purpose of icons, it is necessary to also understand the various characteristics of iconic architecture and how icons are made. These range from the physical identity to more representational characteristics. Both of these aspects begin to breakdown the essential ingredients that make up the powerful image of an icon. It is this image that provides identity for society. The theories of Semiology and Place Theory, as well as the concepts of Identity, Critical Regionalism, and Psychological Perception, are also used to discuss and highlight the various issues surrounding iconism and aids in the defining of icons as entities that establish and represent social identity. Throughout this document, the discussions into the various purposes of icons, portrayed through precedent studies and case studies, defines iconism for the present day. In so doing, the ways in which iconism can bring identity to a group of people, to a community and to society, is ultimately understood, and strives for a more empowered society, such as that of Durban. The outcome of the document proves the hypothesis to be true. Iconsim is a tool for social identity through its ability to portray the representation of communities as a unified whole. The redefined role of iconism to take on this responsibility is achieved through the theories of Semiotics, Place Theory and Psychological Perception. The physical presence of an icon is proved to be an important characteristic of iconism as it celebrates unique forms and the use of technology. The selected case studies are used to interpret icons in Durban, the location of the study, as well as discover the ways in which they benefit or fail the community with regards to their new defined role within society.