Function revisited

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Every architect’s work is a set of conditions which, through various relations, may add frequently does have a significant influence on all who participate in the built environment. At the same time, both architects and their work are constantly exposed to various changing relations. When one considers the network of those mutual influences of which an architect and his environment are elements, “form” may be seen as the positioning of an object within a network of conditions and their relations. This network includes visual characteristics of an object, imposed by the architect, and those independent of him, which are culturally conditioned. Such a network constitutes what is understood by “form” in this project.

Among visual relations, I have chosen to recognize for example rhythm, contrast, balance, proportions and transparency. The culturally implied (given) relations are, for example, ownership, use, tradition, fashion. All these relations, imposed by an architect and implied by a culture, reveal only a small fraction of this relational network, of which I have consciously chosen to consider only a few.

Within this framework, the term “function” would describe a momentary suspension of the dynamics of the network of relations. It is called momentary because all of the elements are in contrast change. Consequently, so are their relations with other elements and, therefore, the overall aspect of the form. Function allows the “freezing” of the network in order to make the observation and critique of the object possible. Such observation can be performed only within certain imposed boundaries, since the entire framework, and consequently, both form and function, are limitless in their nature. Those boundaries reveal certain aspects of the object which are constituted from groups of considerations, which in this project are called “conditions”. Some of the “conditions” are later mentioned in the book a plan, elevation, shape. Since all of them resemble each other in their tendency towards balance, different parts of the project perform in a similar way.