Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

FUNCTIONALISM HAS BEEN A SAFE HAVEN FOR THOSE WHO LACK CONFIDENCE

  • Comment
EDITORIAL

This week RMJM defends its Princes Dock scheme in Liverpool as a reaction against 'the paper-thin fishapismfl which is fast becoming the norm of the new generation of architects'. It goes without saying that 'shapism' is a derogatory term. A few years ago, when the AJ published a building study of a contemporary office block by Robert Adam which lurks behind a NeoClassical facade, our readers were quick to accuse us of 'facadism'; a term uttered with a similar degree of contempt. Both failings are deemed to equate with a lack of integrity; the lazy pursuit of dubious rewards.

Yet both can be seen as a reproach to another form of laziness: the tendency to cling to the functionalist mantra that form follows function; that a proper consideration of the particulars of context and brief can reveal the 'appropriate' response; that the spatial and structural organisation should be reected in an 'honest' facade. This once-pioneering doctrine has provided a safe haven for those who lack confidence in their own judgment, or seek to avoid reproach. As long as cause and effect can be adequately explained, issues such as beauty, taste and style are neither here nor there.

Far from representing a lack of ambition, the new-found preoccupation with ornament and pattern, exemplified by Caruso St John's transformation of the Museum of Childhood (pages 21-35), reasserts the architect's right - and responsibility - to make overt aesthetic decisions.

It rejects the notion that architectural intelligence can be reduced to a body of formal and technical knowledge. The architectural profession is constantly told that it needs to enhance its grasp of procurement, construction and project management, if it is to maintain its status in a post-Egan world. But its position is only under threat if society ceases to value the key components of design - visual intelligence, good judgement and creative critique.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.