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Peter Blundell Jones

Term applied to architecture in which the form of a building is derived from the function it is intended to fulfil. As employed by such historians as Nikolaus Pevsner and Siegfried Giedion, the term became generally identified with early 20th-century Modernism, for, like many of their architect contemporaries, they used it in justifying that style. It would, however, be hard to substantiate the claim that modern architecture is truly more functional than that of many other periods, particularly as it was impregnated with aesthetic and social concerns that sometimes conflicted directly with the requirements of use.

Even in the realm of theory modernists cannot claim any monopoly on functionalist ideas: A. W. N. Pugin claimed in his True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841) that ‘there should be no features about a building which are not necessary for construction, convenience or propriety’, defining propriety as the appropriate reflection of the internal arrangements in the exterior. Even though he applied them to Gothic examples, he drew his ideas from the French Neo-classical tradition, while the French reiterated theories borrowed from the Italian Renaissance. Thus functionalist ideas can be found in ...