Urban Artifacts and a Theory of the City / Typological Questions / Post Functionalism

Both Rossi and Eisenman in their writings on functionalism and modernism discuss why the “form follows function” motif of the modernists is an overly simplified view of how we arrive at form and architecture.  Rossi looks at the urban landscape as an example of continuums that reject typical classification in their flux and growth. Eisenman offers that modernists in their aim to make for man’s ethical and programmatic needs have become so obsessed with the object that they lost the pre-industrialization balance between aesthetics and function. 

Rossi: “Architecture of cities tells more from a historical context than solely the function for which they were produced”

Man always concerned with bettering his surroundings with aesthetic intent

Reference Aristotle and Plato, transmission of ideas in an urban context through architecture

Functionalists want the rigid city plan (grid, circle, etc.) but this is purely fictional as far as he is concerned because no one experiences the city from plan, always in movement through and in it.

Rejects the notion that the origin of objects is at their function, offers no evidence from archeology, psychology. Dismisses without offering counterpoint

Acknowledges the bodily organ derived from function analogy but shows the lack of autonomous value the body lacks.

Man is born with all organs and they react to the physical needs

Cities on the other hand are constantly reborn, adapting and evolving. Modernism rejects the idea of an evolutionary process and simplifies it to its base root.

Claims functionalist contradict their hypothesis, offers no evidence, jumps to judgment.

Eisenman: “With the rise of modernism objects lose their connection to man as a result of industrialization’s production ability”

Modernist blindly following the all too strict relationship between form and function.

Must for the first time accommodate a mass client

Object no longer concerned with man as it is with its own thing-lyness

Modernists lack a balance between form and function through oversimplification

Thus modernists in their efforts to set up standards to find universal truth shut out evolution in favor of singularity

Aldo Rossi, “Introduction: Urban Artifacts and a Theory of the City” and “Typological Questions,” The Architecture of the City, excerpt (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984): 20-27, 35-44.
Peter Eisenman, “Post-Functionalism,” Oppositions 6 (Fall 1976) 


About mhgoblue

Architecture Undergrad University of Michigan

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