Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dankmar Adler on Form and Function

Therefore, if "form follows function," it does not follow in a straight line, nor in accordance with a simple mathematical formula, but along the lines of curves whose elements are always changing and never alike; and if the lines of development and growth of vegetable and animal organisms are infinitely differentiated, the processes of untrammeled human thought and human emotions are even more subtle in the differences and shadings of their manifestations, while the natural variations in conditions of human environment are as great as those which influence the developments of form in the lower organisms; and human work is further modified by necessary artificial conditions and circumstances.

Dankmar Adler, "Function and Environment", in Lewis Mumford, ed. Roots of Contemporary American Architecture (1952), p. 244.


reversealchemy said...

So form wanders along behind function?

sevensixfive said...

That reminds me of Ruskin, coming from the other direction, at his most diagrammatic/formalsit:

"For instance, the line or curve of the edge of a leaf may be accurately given to the edge of a stone, without rendering the stone in the least like a leaf, or suggestive of a leaf ... because the lines of nature are alike in all her works ... and when they are taken out of their combinations it is impossible to say from which of her works they have been borrowed, their universal property being that of ever-varying curvature in the most subtle and subdued transitions, with peculiar dependence on motion, elasticity, or dependence ..." Ruskin, The Stones of Venice I, p. 224

enrique said...

reversealchemy ... interesting point, and I only offer Adler's subsequent paragraph as a response:

"Therefore, before accepting of the underlying law upon which all good architectural design and all true architectural style is founded, it may be well to amend it, and say 'function and environment determine form,' using the words environment and form in their broadest sense."


enrique said...

765 ... is it possible to stage a Adler v. Ruskin debate in the same terms as a Perrault v. Blondel or Perrault v. Fréart confrontation?