Exploring construction project design as multimodal social semiotic practice

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    The semiotic nature of design and engineering communications has often evaded direct interrogation; specifically the representation of requirements using multiple semiotic modes. This paper explores the semiotic character of requirement representation in the construction project design and engineering process by mobilizing a social semiotic analytic framework to reveal how project artefacts (e.g. drawings; digital imagery; physical objects) are multimodal resources that critically affect stakeholder engagement and interpretation. The focused empirical study from a hospital construction project reveals the motivations and effects of multimodal and semiotic communicative choices of different parties (e.g. client; architect; engineer; design consultant) engaged on the same project; the representation (or not) of requirements via various semiotic modes being a social and political process. The contribution of the paper is in revealing the semiotic character of requirement representation and the relevance of semiotic-informed enquiry for an industry continuing to develop new technologies (e.g. virtual reality; BIM – building information modelling) for design and construction work.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSocial Semiotics
    Early online date18 Jul 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Construction
    • design
    • engineering
    • multimodality
    • project management


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