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How Space Affects Function

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5516 words Published: 3rd Jul 2018

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The essay aims to discuss the relationship between the space and function. It also explores how function is being represented or symbolized in space through case studies. The ideas of design of function are common for such spaces. “Crowded with anger as you could not find a place to put your play station in your room; mothers keep nagging about the kitchen is not enough space for her stuff” those types of complaints could be solved easily by spatial design.

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Function is always first consideration of reference to building and space. If there is no proper design plan and design concepts, the final products may be a functionless structure. How to let the functionalism lead the design concepts? As the limited space for growing population this moment in Singapore, designing with multifunction for living well in limited space is the hottest topic now.

The essay will compare the points of father of functionalism – Émile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons who advocated the established institutions in society was in its own purpose and function. As well as Robert K. Merton who dismissed Durkheim and Parsons’ ideas and believed in that shared values were central in explaining how societies and institutions work, to support multifunction of the space is one of the main purposes of design now days.

The essay also discusses the ideas from Azby Brown who promotes small space with bigger usages. The case studies will try to find the linkages between the function and the design elements that are used to make the space in its maximum usages. With multifunction and spaces purposes could make limited space become unlimited space for people, and therefore achieving better quality of their life style.

People always take place within a space in their daily life; this is the reason people design the spatial environment according to their needs, whether a landscape, a city, a house, a room. El Lissitzky mentioned “Space: that which is not looked at through a keyhole, not through an open door. Space does not exist for the eye only; one wants to live in it.” [1] The purpose of a space is the main consideration for designers before they start the plan. It is a complicated factor which affects the final layout of the space.

A site is influenced by many complex and diverse factors. There are different architectural contexts and each determines the type of building design. The scale between spane and architecture, especially the most standard occurring sizes, is determined primarily by the structural usage, and is always perceived in relation to human scale and the adjacent spaces. People are affected by the relative perception of spatial scale effects. Architects and planners have developed some systems over the course of the architectural history, all which refer to human scale. One of the most recent is Le Corbusier’s “Modulor”.

Hence, an increasing pressure on interior designers to provide functional facilities that maximize the usages of interior space and serve more than one limited programmatic requirement. For example, in conference centers, classroom buildings, and banquet facilities the ability to change room size is essential. However, if there is only single function of the space, the consequences will be using other places to set with another functions. For a limited area, multifunction as the major design concept is the better solution. The space planner should know the conventionally available building products and techniques to open and close spaces, including their approximate installed cost, their approximate sound transmission qualities, and the relative ease with which they can be opened and closed.

Singapore is a small island city-state of about 700 sq km with a cosmopolitan population of 4.6 million people. With a small land size and practically no natural resources, Singapore faces a challenging of transformation occurring. It is important to focus on designing with multifunction to improving of living quality. This help to make Singapore to become an economically powerful city that is as well as one of the most livable cities in Asia.


Functionalism is explained in many areas: architecture, philosophy of mind, psychology, etc. Functionalists argue society is a system made up of inter-related parts like a body is made up of organs that work together. Like organs in the body each part, sub-system or institution work with each other to keep society functioning well. If change happens in one part of society, the change will happen in other parts as well. Some part of society may start to work less well, like a failing organ and lead to dysfunction. The meaning of functionalism in architecture is the principle of architects should design the buildings or the projects that are based on the purposes of work.

According to mathematics, space is the objects and events happening in a boundless, three-dimensional extent and it have relative position and direction. Between the link of the evolution of architectural drawing and concepts of space in environmental design overtures can be traced back via a continuous, chain of evidence to the higher cultures of the Near and Far East and early Egyptian dynasties when the ideas of a ground plan and spatial concepts were organized against simple linear grids. The earliest known ‘architectural’ design drawing is a landscape layout plan for a tamarisk grove which fronted the Egyptian temple at El-Dier el-Bahari near Memphis. It is drawn in ink on sandstone and dated circa 2100 BC. The design plans were not used in the design of western European architecture until the rediscovery of Euclidean geometry in 1100 AD.

David Émile Durkhiem (1858 – 1917) was the founder of modern sociology and also the father of functionalism. Durkhiem proposed that lacks the strong centralized institution according to association’s such company “primitive” the society. The society structure of functionalism also argued on that the basic building block of society is the central part of family therefore an outgrowth of families, not vice versa. Talcott Parsons was heavily influenced by Durkhiem, synthesizing much of their work into his theory. Parson’s developed an action-theory based-theoretical concept and on the methodological principle of voluntary action. He stated that the social system is made up of action of individuals and he was advocated the established institutions in society were in its own purpose and function. As well as Robert K. Merton who dismissed Durkheim and Parsons’ ideas and believed in that shared values were central in explaining how societies and institutions work, to support multifunction of the space is one of the main purposes of design now days.

Space is a site for human interaction, dealings, rituals, games and spectacles. These actions determine the spatial design to a great extent and the spatial features influence the user and the functions. People focus on the functions of the target space now. Building and design of a space considers the relationship between space and functions. Design with functions is a key point to transform a space to be brand new place. The parameters of spatial design are important elements. The function always affects the final spatial form. Spatial types can be identified and distinguished by how clearly its specific function can be recognized in the structural design. Specific architectural requirements and the purpose can strongly influence a spatial design and the functions. Bruno Zevi briefed “All the techniques of representation and all the paths to architecture which do not include direct experience are pedagogically fruitful; but their function is no more than allusive and preparatory to that moment in which we, with everything in us enter and experience the spaces we have been studying. That is the moment of architecture.” [2] This statement showed the importance of function in a space. Besides of function and use, a space possesses other distinctive features that are significant to spatial design and can be emphasized as specific spatial qualities. Space is perceived physically by all the feelings and cognitively with mind. Every site has its own specific, spatial environment, linking the design of building changes the form of its surrounding space that determines a structure’s possible design options.

In the period of 1930s, the discussion of functionalism was about the esthetic method not regarding of design qulaity. The main idea of functionalism was a totally different matter as it was lacked of ornamentations. It became a contemptuous opinons associated with the brutal ways to cover space where like cheap commercial buildings. For 1970s, American architect Philip Johnson maintained the profession has no responsibility of functions and the concept is still happened in many buildings.

The three classic goals of architecture are commodity, beauty and firmness. Vituvius is the author of The Books on Architecture; it is about Latin and Greek on Architecture. The famous for asserting is firmitas, utilitas, venustas that are commodity, beauty and firmness. As birds and bees build their nets, human build their own home. The functional place of buildings may trace back to Vitruvian triad, Vitruvius is sometimes refer as the first architect.

During the early years of twenty century, the architect – Louis Sullivan popularized that from a building’s size, mass of the spatial grammar and other building’s characteristics as his belief of the functions. The implication is satisfied of functional aspect and the beauty of architecture is naturally necessarily followed. In viewing architectural works each section in concrete works should clearly indicate its function; the role-played by each part within the structure.

Functionalist principle in architecture area is focused on the benefits from the design of structure, material and systemic usage. Sullivan is the creator of the modern skyscraper, is a Chicago School influential architect and the critic and is the mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright.

This same concept happens in architecture design, if the architect focuses on the design of the structure without considering the result of survey and analysis how he could build a Pyramid along the mountainside.

The function is sacrificed in order to make the design or the building meaningful. The intuitive form of space, which surrounds us wherever we may be and which we then always erect around ourselves and consider more necessary than the form of our own body, consists of the residues of sensory experience to which the muscular sensations of our body, the sensitivity of our skin, and the structure of our body all contribute. The experience of ourselves is the center of this space whose co-ordinates interest us on which architectural creation is based. A building is attractive and outstanding in a zone, however, if the building is lack of functions it becomes as obstacle on the street. However, a well-designed building makes difference for the society, for people as well as the environment. All natural organisms have the mechanical energy to carry out certain functions. In the way of expressing in their own forms as a whole or in their crystallization to convey to the mind an expression of these functions. The architect matter of natural situation is imitation, so models of his form that they also play their own functions; and these functions are always strength, luxury and repose in as mechanical situation, in these products with various quantity of combination. The fundamental principle of the modeling of architectural forms is therefore mechanical.

‘Function’ was without question an important concept in modern architecture, but it has above all been in the critique of modernism that it has come into its own. A ‘function’ describes the result of the action of one quantity upon another; relative to architecture, function is a term primarily relating to the tectonics of building.

There is a book already mentioned; Adolf Behne’s Der moderne Zweeckbau (The Modern Functional Building) published in 1926, in particular elaborated the significance of ‘function’ term. The book’s aim to discuss the whole range of points of view that could broadly speak is considered sachlich – usually translated into English as ‘function’. Behne’s book is the extensiveness off the range of work that Behne considered sachlich, and his criteria for distinguishing between its different manifestations.

The architect can only grap and carry out his truly artistic work, that is, the creative works, when he addresses questions of his client’s attitude of life, way of living, business methods…For this reason ‘being a client’ is not just buying a piece of land, some bricks, and an architect. The client must be an activity, whose taking possession of the acquired space is so definite, clears, rich, and organic that it can be transformed into the relationships of masonry walls… (120)

Building a new structure is not only the elements required only but the spirit and functions as well, not an architect desires to design a building without meaning. Behne was critical of the German architects whom he characterized as ‘romantic functionalists’, because their work would be not easily adapt to future changes of use, and so lacked the generality necessary to the social, as opposed to the individual condition. If builds a structure for five years and demolishes it in next five years, this is wasting of time and materials as well of money. With a small land size and practically no natural resources in Singapore, it is not worth for societal economy. Therefore, planning for many land uses within the small island are important. In addition to uses like housing, commerce and industry, given these limitations, the city planers have to formulate an own brand of sustainable development in Singapore.

If every building is part of a built whole, then it recognizes from its aesthetic and formal requirements certain universally valid rules, rules that do not arise from its individual functional character [Zweckcharakter] but from the requirements of this whole. For here, in the social sphere after all, must lay the primeval elements of the aesthetic. [137]

Behne’s idea was that true functionalism was the making visible not of the building’s individual purpose, but its purpose considered in relation to the general, collective purpose of society. For example building a chalet village in a busy, high rental financial region is an unusual idea and it is against the usage of the urban planning. The pioneer of modern architecture is the German architect Mies van der Rohe and Franco Swiss architect Le Corbusier. Both of them are the functionalists who at least to a certain extent of their building were the previous style of basic simplification. In 1923, Mies van der Rohe worked in Germany and started his production radically the enterprise that simplified to achieve Sullivan’s goal of inherent buildings beauty. Le Corbusier’s famous quotation is that a house is a machine for living, and how creates the machine is influenced factor in design the path.

The Villa Savoye in Poissy was completed in 1929 is considered the seminal work of Le Corbusier. It is a one of the most recognizable architectural presentations of international style. The house has been designed to be a weekend country house and is situated just outside of the city of Piossy in a meadow, which was originally surrounded by nature and trees.

“Unlike the confined urban locations of most of Le Corbusier’s earlier houses, the openness of the Poissy site permitted a freestanding building and the full realization of his five-point program. Essentially the house comprises two contrasting, sharply defined, yet interpenetrating external aspects. The dominant element is the square single-storied box, a pure, sleek, geometric envelope lifted buoyantly above slender pilotis, its taut skin slit for narrow ribbon windows that run unbroken from corner to corner (but not over them, thus preserving the integrity of the sides of the square).” [530]

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Architects design not only the structure but also buildings that areas functions and purposes. Le Corbusier’s statement that “A work can only affect us emotionally and touch our sensibility if its form has been dicated by a genuine purpose” In the five points he addressed, the ideas consist to make the space become flexible and simple to provide other functions in different situations. However, in his designs of Villa Savoye there are also some weak points involved as the space in second floor is lacking of connection with outside environment and surrounding.

The Villa Tugendhat is intended a masterpiece of the architect Mies van der Rohe. This is a classic example of functionalism. Mies used the progressive iron framework to enable him for dispensing the supporting walls as well as to arrange the interior design such the feeling of space by the lighting. The costs of building villa were high as the unusual construction method, the exclusive building materials and the high technology of heating and ventilation etc. Because it is a big layout of a family house that may escape large group of visitors from the superior simplicity of the room’s usages by various hovel extremely big spatial compensation. The plan is the generator, without plan, the project has lack of order, willfulness. The plan of the rooms included many ideas as different functions but how to make the space fully utilized without wasting space and the usages of multifunction – the topic is a proper challenge now.

Layout is the most important factor to a successful small space. Layout basically involves defining areas and connecting them. In general, one would like to separate living functions to give privacy and focus where needed, but not so solidly that the space ends up being chopped into hard cubicles. Thinking more definitively, the use of partitions, extending from the floor to waist or chest height, can provide an ample sense of separation, especially while is seated, without losing the sense of openness. Azby Brown is an architect who promotes small space with bigger usages. He uses Japanese ideas to discuss how to make the actual floor spaces range from 540 to 1,730 square feet. This range of space is good examples for anyone trying to maximize the space and light of a small residence. Some space is design by imaginative and practical solutions with multifunction to the problems of limited interior space.

The function of a building, a place even a space is also more important. To prevent of wastage of any place, design with functionalism is a major concept. Designers think about the creative ideas to improve human daily life as well as the quality without increasing the costs. The function is designed in order to make the design or the building meaningful. A building is attractive and outstanding in a zone, however, if the building is lack of functions it becomes as an obstacle on the street. When the parts of a building are arranged according to a sense of their use, when aesthetic space becomes living space and this is the kind of order called dynamic. In viewing architectural works each section in concrete works should clearly indicate its function; the role-played by each part within the structure. As Singapore is an outstanding country with limited land area in the world, the urban plan is always planed to map out the vision for further Singapore in the next 50 years – to achieve sustainable urban development. Urban Redevelopment Authority is Singapore’s national land usage planning authority. Urban Redevelopment Authority prepares long term strategic plans to make Singapore become a greater city for living, playing in and working. There are two ways to create new land: one is by reclamation off the seashore with sea sands; the other way is to make the most usage of the land that already have currently – based on the concept of multifunction for the highlight land use by locating various facilities with instead of separately.

The future development balances in the way of economic growth with environmental stewardship as well as social progress. Based on the functionalism principle in architecture area is focused on the benefits from the design of structure, material and systemic usage. Multifunction enhances the negative space allowing it become alive and fully utilization. Redesign the space with multifunction, focusing on the context to maize the function in limited space that helps the city growth as well as the improvement of life quality. In the other hand, if government plans the current land without of further usage, money, time and materials are all wasted.

Multifunction is good, multifunction helps in a different way such as technology, design and opens another page of quality of live. Functionalism principle in architecture area is focused on the benefits from the design of structure, material and systemic usage. People can get the wonderful living quality if their house buildings or limited space design with multifunction. Small case as a condominium project which consist swimming pools, gyms and open terrace for the residences; using the surrounding space of HDB buildings to create playing yards for children, install some simple exercise equipments for older people, etc. those examples is based on the design concept of multifunction with various factors to improve the life quality and environment.

An outstanding multifunction project in architecture is Singapore’s Integrated Resort (IR) at Marinia Bay; IR is small part of Singapore but it has museum, theaters, casino, convention centre, hotel and shops. Visitors could find their needs in one place. Space with multifunction helps Singapore to open another chapter of tourism and the growth of nation’s economy. If designing without function inside, the works will be invalid. Multifunction is the main design solution for the limited space today not only for Singapore but also for the earth village currently.


A. Hot Desk

Hot desk is a sharing model of workstation space. In early 1990s, the hot desk model was deployed in some workplaces. In such some environments, the workstation has computer, some personal items and some workers have own notebook computers to bring to work with them or keep in personal lockers. However, the technology makes the hot desk model practicable was not fully developed during that period; the system was not widely accepted by public. After renewing the hot desk model factors included improved communications, collaboration and virtualization technologies in conjunction with increasing mobile workforce and financially stressed enterprise.

From the perspective of management, hot desk model is altercative as it can save the costs significantly. Therefore, the concert will not operate in environments where employees are working at offices during their duty time. Furthermore, some employers the benefits of saving the costs but also lack of ability to observe employee activities during the office hours. For employees’ views, the hot desk model has advantages and disadvantages that they are happy to have more flexibility but many of them may be reluctant to give up the personal space. At hot desk system, the work surface is just a terminal link or an actual desk that the employer furnishes a permanent work surface where is available for any other workers when they need the space. There are no personal items and physical facilities and the place with hot desk system is sometimes called a mobility centre.

Hot desk is used regular in places where the employees are not in their office most of time or at the same time and the office is consuming valuable space and resources. In the current technology era, hot desk system also includes different types of message services and the routing of voice to different locations. The users are able to log in their personal accounts with secure corporate network to reply or send their emails and get the information for management departments. It is convenience and saving cost idea for current time. The hot desk idea is a good example of multifunction as the concept helps the employers saving for their offices rental fees. In the view of economic and company improvement, the hot desk idea is a bonus benefit.

As the limited space of offices and workstations currently, people may choose to work at home or spending less time at offices, for this type of situation, hot desk is the powerful idea to save the cost and as well as the space. In some cases, companies designated a certain area as hot desking location for their agents, sales or who works outside most of the time to have a place to update own reports and replies emails.

B. Gardiner Museum Renewal / KPMB Architects

Gardinear Museum is the world’s per-eminent institution devotes to the only ceramic art in Canada. It also one of the major new projects in Toronto’s cultural renaissance which renews with the Royal Ontario Museum across the street. It is located between the neoclassical the Queen Anne-style Margaret Addison Hall to the south and Lillian Massey building to the north. The borders of the renewal are more welcoming urban presence for the Gardinear. Inside of the museum, the interior design is transformed to prioritize the display of the collections completely in the museum and to build a memorable, inviting people experience. The museum existing plan is also completed re-configured to encourage the journey through the galleries to as well as raise the foreword encouragement journey through the decorated corridor to launch, from ground to new third level. After completed the gallery tour in the new third level exhibition space, the visitors can feel the column-free area is with a clerestory ceiling that creates a monumental space for large-scale artwork or traveling exhibits. The third level is Jamie Kennedy restaurant where locates the new multipurpose event hall and outdoor terrace.

The renewal project enhances the Gardiner’s place in the city. The windows are placed to provide other visual breaks from the public spaces of the museum and the attention of the surrounding context at different scales. The views are from close of the historic facades and the close to Lillian Massey and Margaret Addison buildings to become sequences of the ROM’s heritage building with the new Crystal expansion across the street. In the third level, the multi-purpose space and the outdoor terrace is created a new elegant look that opens on expansive vistas of Queen’s Park, the University of Toronto as well as the downtown skyline. Inside of the museum, the design is transformed completely to give the visitors a memorable experience. This transformation of Gardiner Museum provides a series of new platforms to display their collections and other activities will also flourish to ensure the long-term relevance of the museum to the cultural life of the city.

Redesign the urban landscape with multifunction, to enhance more activities during day and night. The Gardiner Museum is transferred by the original structure and extending its space planning to every directions” from the inside out”. Redesign the layout with functions to existing museum with long-term relevance of the cultural life of city.

Form this case design concept is multifunction. Without demolishing the existing building, add in new design elements and new layouts to cooperate with government policy – cultural city. The project is not only focus on the function of the museum where display the art works, but also adds in different functions that the event areas, rooms for lectures and talks, the souvenir shops etc. Based on multifunction, Gardiner Museum is not just a museum to enhance the cultural life of the city as well as a place for family gathering and friends studying together.

C. Stadtlounge – Red Carpet

In spring 2005, with the new construction in Schreinerstrasse 6, it has been completed the last stage of the edifications of the complex Raiffeisen and the building activity of Raiffeisen Switzerland in the center of Saint Gallo has been concluded therefore also. To the term of the jobs that have given life to a harmonious entirety from the urbanization point of view, the external space was wanted to be restructured also. For this purpose it has been assigned a mandate of specific study with the objective to develop innovative ideas that organize in optimal way the external spaces. The strengthening of the identity of the new center with perfect on the whole city integration was a point centers them of the plan.

The plan – “stadtlounge” has been born from the collaboration between Pipilotti Rist and Carlos Martinez, convinced opportunely the decisional Raiffeisen Switzerland and the city administration of Saint Gallo. Drafting of a job that offers to a contribution much innovative one and originates them, which new identity with the characteristics of a meeting place creates with its radicalism one and break. In “stadtlounge”, the spaces in the open air have been covered with a red carpet that serves to distinguish an atmosphere otherwise lacking in an own identity. The authors of the plan have intentional to create a zone in which it is possible to meet themselves and to pass pleasant moments, on the background of a largamente ironical atmosphere. “Lounge”, realized just like a opened drawing-room the public, it is equipped of spaces dedicates to you to various thematic: there is the “coffee”, the “angle relax” and “it knows it it business”. This innovative character extends also to the lighting system with fluctuating elements to variable brightness to second of the moments of the day. According to the responsible, “stadtlounge” it is without a doubt in a position to conferring to the place, Raiffeisen Switzerland and the city of Saint Gallo a prestigious image in a position to valuing the main center of the Bank, to the standard of a fruibile qualitative standard to perceptive level and moves them.

International acknowledgment for the plan of lighting system of stadtlounge the city of Saint Gallo has adjudicated the third party place to the international competition City-People-Light-Award 2008, after Seul and Riga. The prize comes assigned sin from 2003 to the cities that inside accommodate permanent plans of lighting system of spaces publics. Saint Gallo is rewarded for “luminous clouds”, or “bubbles”, of the artists Pipilotti Rist and Carlos Martinez installed in stadtlounge (the Raiffeisenplatz), like 13 official notice November 2008 from the communal administration.

A red carpet guides passing creating a pleasant atmosphere and contributing in fundamental way to make to perceive the city in a completely new way, thanks to the combination of a public and private space. The effect turns out amplified from the particular lights that they render the quarter residential an only great drawing-room”, law in the official notice is printed in German.

Using multifunction as foundation makes the target area becoming another famous shopping zone, there is benefit for the shops among the place and attracts more visitors as well.

The win-win situation is based of multifunction.

D. Korea Center / SAMOO

Some Engineers are from Seoul Korea and SAMOO Architects from New York studio work together to win the international competition in New York. The project is about New York South Korea center, a new family’s design building for the South Korean cultural service. The construction estimated starts in the end of 2010. The building has eight storeys that in total area of 3,065 square meters will provide spaces for more exhibitions, virous of performances, lectures and administration. The Korea House is planed to locate on East 32nd Street in New York City, to extend the vibrancy of Manhattan’s Korea Town in the Murray Hill neighborhood.

Places in the central space, the multi-layered glass façade as the main scheme that creates a big screen wall that illuminates three sculptural figures made of polished ceramic that is representing humanity ear


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