Monday, March 30, 2009

Function and Form

In the following some specific characteristics of new architecture design are identified. The architectural design and form of buildings is influenced by the type of the building and by its function. Buildings such as residential, commercial, industrial, transport, educational, health-care, leisure and agricultural buildings are designed with features characteristic for the individual building type. Structural systems also have an interrelation with the type and function of the buildings. As a consequence there exist school-building, residentialbuilding and other systems. Technical progress (prefabrication, mechanization, etc.) resulted in the industrialization of building and, as a specific form of this, ‘system building’. Early on, the various deficiencies inherent in system building (such as inadequate architectural quality and others) brought system building into discredit. Consequently it has ceased to be considered as the basic panacea for the problems of building. Nevertheless, the system concept may contribute to the combination of upto- date technology and good architecture.

Basically we can differentiate two types of megasystem. The first of these is the technical system of buildings (Ahuja, 1997), which consists of:
  • the structural system
  • the architectural system
  • the services and equipment (lighting, HVAC, power, security, elevators, telecommunications, functional equipment, etc.).

It was frequently claimed that ideally the form of a structure should correspond to the type of a structure and that the function of a building should harmonize with the structure form. Many realized examples seem to confirm this assumption; exceptions, however, already existed in historical architecture (e.g. hanging stucco ceilings in the form of vaults). In modern and post-modern architecture the use of steel and of reinforced concrete made it easy to design structures whose form did not really correspond to the type of the structure. The principle of the harmony of form and structure was in fact undermined by this development.

The second mega-system is composed of:
  • the process of architectural, structural and engineering design and their documents
  • economic analysis, data and results including quantity surveying, feasibility studies, risk analysis
  • management of design, construction and use of buildings and structures (facility management) including cooperation of various organizations and persons involved in the construction process.

The architectural profession may rely on systems for buildings that are typical and occur with restricted variations in great numbers, but for any major commission individual approaches are favoured.

Sebestyen, Gyula. 2003. New Architecture and Technology.

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