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The Function of Form | Farshid Moussavi at the WAF 2009

November 5, 2009


In a talk entitled The function of form, Farshid Moussavi sped through a dense theoretical argument which began from two observations: the bankruptcy of Modern Movement functionalism in connecting with everyday life and the accurate description of the territory or field in which any architect can legitimately act, writes David Dunster. We attended her conference yesterday, and here are some of the ideas that Moussavi shared with us:


Moussavi’s research has been materialised in two books: Function of Ornament and The Function of Form (this last one recently published) and she builds on the idea that an interior can be disconnected from the envelope, using the potential of digital tools we have now.

The 20 Century has emerged from multiple forms and fears,  we all know that functionalism is almost dead but in the same way, pure formalism is a dangerous way to face the new architectural reality. Moussavi pointed out that we’re surrounded by concerns like climate change, poverty and urban sprawl, and that as architects we must find ways to solve these problems which should not only be approached through engenieering or politics, but by a multidisciplinary approach with social concerns.



There is a current need to redefine the word FUNCTION. In the architectural movements of the 20 Century, function was understood as utility, while in other disciplines it was understood as a series of transversal processes connected through different tools. Farshid Moussavi argues that we need to rethink architecture and the process we use to produce built forms with a multidisciplinary and holistic approach.



The concept of Superstudio’s project was revisited and used as a source of inspiration for the Yokohama Terminal, which acts as a transversal and elastic system, constantly changing to adapt itself to the external requirements, in words of Moussavi, based on the idea that history is not static and neither is architecture. Forms are part of the different ways people interact with objects.

The difference between affect and affection needs to be readed in the Deleuzian way and architects need to transmit affect with its buildings and projects. What does this mean? She refers to the fact that forms produce different sensations in people, as we can see in these images below:


The building.



The reactions.

Farshid Moussavi ended her talk with these words: “Patterns are ornaments, but ornaments are not limited by patterns.”



All images from Farshid Moussavi’s conference at the World Architecture Festival. Stay tuned for more!!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2009 8:12 pm

    I totally agree I won´t lie I love to see astonishing complex parametric projects , and complex facade projects , but its also important to consider architecture should also focus on creating flexible conditions and variables to have a good performance I have some random ideas like:

    Architecture that is designed for adaptation recognizes that future is not finite , that change is inevitable , but that a framework is an important element in allowing that change to happen , this kind of buildings can respond better to different functions depending on its user requirements.

    Movile architecture can be defined as buildings specifically designed to move fro place to place so that they can fullfil their function better.

    The success of our societies is dependent on our ability to act and recat , to recognize and analyse situations and respond to them in an appropiate manner.

    Any way “Patterns are ornaments, but ornaments are not limited by patterns.” its a good pointer for me to remember.


  1. Quick Post | Farshid Moussavi about Superstudio « arkinet

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