Narrative Design

“Narrative seems to be one of the main ways we construct our personal and group identities and how we get a picture of time. Combining stories with spaces brings together mind and body and offers endless creative possibilities for producing memorable human experience.” Tricia Austin CSM lecturer. Every individual interprets their own narrative, it can depend on emotions, pathways taken and many other factors. Spatial narrative is determined by architectural alignments and styles. Buildings relay many stories even those that are not visible. Stories of the Architects thought process, Stories of what existed before and now. The contribution of a persons own underlying story allows them to facilitate the narrative in their own way. As Peter Zumthor states “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” Zumthor (2006, P. 17) our own perspective of situations and designs can be contributed to by the surrounding environment, but everyone is each to their own. Whether buildings along a street have a stylistic connection or juxtapose from the surrounding façade they have an impressionable affect. Each create a visual connection of which contributes to the narrative of the street scape. When a place forms a particular narrative within a person it creates links to memorable information. “A ‘Sense of place’ the subjective and emotional attachment people have to place.” Cresswell (2004) arguably place is formed by the narrative impressions it has had among someone. They create mnemonic associations with the place from the way the space was interpreted before. I believe the narrative of architecture has much more depth and meaning when there is evidence of ‘palimpsest’ within the roots of the building. Palimpsest “Something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of it’s earlier form” Oxford Dictionary (2003) The layers show historical and cultural values which can be interpreted in many ways, they provide evidence of previous existence, and a basis for imaginary information.

The above image shows how a city can have various historical and cultural stories throughout the streets. St Pauls cathedral a medieval renaissance building designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren and completed construction in the 1711 is a remarkable landmark of the city. Directly to the east of the cathedral we see the eight-storey shopping and office complex, with staggering contrasting panels of thermo glass, the narrative within one photo is exceptional. The contrast of a modern shopping complex which inhabits various peoples’ stories against a beautifully crafted cathedral with years of history.


Cresswell, T., 2013. Place: A short introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

Urban 75 blog. (2011) Lesser known London viewpoints: the dramatic view from One New Change, St Pauls. Available at: (Accessed: 13 April 2016)

Zumthor, P. (2006) Atmospheres: Architectural Environments-Surrounding Objects Switzerland: Birkhaüser


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s