Covers environment, transportation, urban and regional planning, economic and social issues with a focus on Finland and Portugal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Function and Aesthetics


The functional requirements of buildings and other physical structures are defined by the requisites that the users make for the realization of their activities.

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Photo by Edward Burtynsky /

Actually, the term "function" covers all criteria, not only practical (such as structural security, habitability and economy) but also aesthetic, physiologic, psychological, socio-economic and cultural.

Besides being a design process, architecture is also an experimental and sensory process. If we are moving in a 3D environment, in a temporal sequence we can see, touch, smell and have good or bad “vibrations”. There are thus two different channels: one is the design process, the other one is the sensory experience.

To satisfy the new concept of sustainability, any structure should be constructed in an environmentally friendly way. The materials, the environmental impact on the evolving area and the external demands on energy sources (needed for the required habitability) should be integrated in a sustainable project.


Aesthetics judgments, sensory and emotional values are based on multiple and complex factors, which are variable spatially, temporally, and from individual to individual. In the same circumstances, something that may be beautiful for some people, can be awful to others. Many times these judgments are subconscious reactions, which can be manifested physically in each person.

We could ask if the concept of beauty has disappeared, replaced with the concept of “expression” - the communication of our convictions or truths, often opposite to the so called “status-quo”.

But after all, what might be considered as art? An unique aesthetic object or an undistinguishable succession of cultural ways?

And who recognizes the art? The institutions of the artistic world, art events and artistic communities, or there should be rules and formal definitions to assess it? Is art a product of class and high level education?

Is it the process of creation that makes an art object? Or is it the intrinsic feature of an object that makes it art?

If an artist intends a piece to be an art object, will it be even if another artist doesn’t acknowledge it? Is it the intention of the creator that makes something to be art? Or is it the form how the art object is experienced by its audience?

Is it the function of the art object in a particular context or environment, the determining artistic factor?

The next part will help us to find answers to some of these questions…

Part 2 of this article: Manufactured Landscape - Landscape as Architecture


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I can't wait to see where you go with this one!

As an artist and an art student, I've heard the "what is art?" discussion over and over... and I think it's an important discussion to have.