American modernist Louis Sullivan popularized (and had not coined) the phrase ‘Form follows Function’ more than a century ago. There were considerable reasons at that time to promote the functional, rationalist approach with the advent of industrialization. But since then, the statement has been dissected and analysed extensively.
A point that needs the least amount of text to explain, but a debate that takes most out of the 5 years of the architectural education- The problem here is that the statement pre-supposes that something comes before and after something else, in a sequence. The best designers that someone will come across can actually think together, probably think in small increments alternating between the two. Therefore, to say it correctly, both the faculties are in supposition and confirmation of each other.
Expanding on the three words of the phrase – form is generally extended to represented aesthetics, look-and-feel, and everything “Artsy” of the building; while function represents the use, utility, and ‘engineering’ of the building. Program/Design Brief is of course the start point of a design (as explained in the previous blog-post), but there hasn’t ever been a client as yet who has given a brief, “just fill up my prescription and budget, the building doesn’t have to look good!”
Essentially, aesthetics is a part of the building program and the design brief and thus, forms a fundamental need of architecture. Therefore, it is of no less priority than any of the other statements.
A program can be seamlessly merged to develop a form of the building. The best of the designs take the process forward similarly, without prejudice or priority. And students, foremost, must understand that. Like architecture takes into consideration all faculties involved in the understanding of human beings and built environment, spatial design must consider all faculties related to aesthetics and engineering as discrete and indispensable to be able to craft experiences of value.
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