“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function.This is the law.”
- Louis Sullivan, 19th century American architect
More about Sullivan, who was born 158 years ago today.
If you’ve ever said “form follows function” then you’ve been quoting 19th c. architect Louis Sullivan. He was known for his intricate ornamentation that channeled the power and humble beauty of the seed germ.
“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function.This is the law.”
These are the gates to the Getty Tomb that he designed for a mausoleum in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.
Richard Rogers Centre Pompidou where the services of the building are expressed diagrammatically through colour and exposed on the external facades. Photo taken on a trip to Paris in 2011.
My Boss apologied for giving me a rather industrial project the other day and I was confused as to why he would think I wouldn’t enjoy it. A clear function that can be expressed through the architecture and a client with no subjective aesthetic ideas who also believes in practicalities before aesthetics, what is not to like?
Le projet m'intéressait vivement. C'était pour moi l'occasion de battre en brèche la monotonie de l'architecture contemporaine, la mode du fonctionnalisme mal compris qui la bridait, du dogme “forme et fonction” qui régnait à ce moment-là, allant à l'encontre de la liberté esthétique que le béton armé permettait.
La ligne courbe m'attirait. En particulier la courbe libre et sensuelle que la nouvelle technique suggérait et que rappelaient les vieilles églises baroques.
Oscar Niemeyer, à propos du projet de construction du centre-ville de Pampulha (Belo Horizonte, 1942)
in Les courbes du temps (As curvas do tempo - Memórias, 1998)