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Manasi Petkar
Roll No.: 20

Form follows...
Architectural Theory

‘Form follows Function’ is a popular principle in Architecture coined by famous

Architect Louis Sullivan. He wrote “form ever follows function”,

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the
blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing
sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change.
The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies,
in a twinkling.

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all
things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul,
that the life is recognisable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law”

In short, "if a building is properly designed, one should be able with a little attention, to read through that
building to the reason for that building."

Roman architect Vitruvius said in his book ‘De Architectura’ that a structure must exhibit
three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas— that is firm (strong and steady), useful and
Sullivan says on the same lines that a structure should look and appear like the function it
would serve. Like a bank should have the form of a bank and a hospital should have the form
of a hospital. That means that purpose of a building should be the starting point for its

However, I don’t believe that Form follows function necessarily. Form follows many things in
reality. The whole ‘Form follows function’ ideology gets nullified when buildings have
aesthetic serving features. If form followed function then most of the buildings would be
similar looking and there wouldn’t be any needs for architects as certain building modules
would be repeated over and over again. There would be no variety as it would be restricted to
only its function.



According to this ideology all hospitals would look same, all museums and art galleries would
look same, and all apartments would look same and all houses would look same all over the
But that doesn’t happen in real life. Buildings have forms which are not necessarily related to
the function inside but serve a different purpose. For example, houses differ region to region
as they are not designed purely according to their function, but according to climate. Many
famous architectural structures for example Sydney Opera House or Taj Mahal, their
majestic form does not follow its function.

Form is essentially the shape or body of something. It is the 3D envelope which gives a shape
or body to a space. Form may follow various aspects; it may follow Climate, Aspirations,
Money, Culture, Activity, Rules, Activities, etc.

I believe that Form follows Climate. Architecture worldwide has one common trend and it is
designing with respect to the climate around it. A simple building too is designed keeping the
climate, wind, sun, geography, etc in mind.

Human’s began seeking shelter originally due to protection from climate. Hence the shelters
designed where in response to the climate.

Vernacular architecture is completely climate responsive. These houses have not been
designed by any formal architect, but these houses have been designed completely keeping
climate in mind.

Scandinavian Houses are designed with extremely sloping roofs to avoid piling up of slow on the roof.
Also, these houses have thick brick walls too keep heat inside the house.



Mud houses of Kutchh, these houses are made of Cow Dung and Mud which keep the walls
cool due to its Thermal Mass property in the hot region of Kutchh. Also the roof is of hay
stack as it doesn’t rain much there, and to keep out maximum heat. The round shape of the
house diverts the sandy wind around the house and also these houses stay safe during
Earthquakes as they don’t align with any direction of the tremors.

The Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, uses natural sunlight to provide ambient
lighting in the museum instead of using Artificial Lighting.



The houses on Western Coast of India, are designed with heavily sloping tiled roofs for the
heavy rains in the Western Coast. Also these houses have long roof projections over the wall
as the sunlight is extremely strong in this region and maximum sunlight is kept out of the
house as sunlight brings in heat and heat is unwelcome in this hot and humid Western
Coastal Region.

Form does follow climate. Using climate to derive at a Form would not only just save energy
sources but even more money and help us derive at a more culturally based design which also
sustainable in the long run.

Charles Correa’s book, “Form follows Climate” speaks vastly about climate responsive
architecture. Even his designs, respond to the climate. Like the Kanchenjunga apartments,
they have variation in levels and has East-West opening to utilise the wind from the sea.

In conclusion, climate plays a huge role in deriving at the form. Climate will affect the way a
person lives as humans are extremely sensitive to climate and its changes. Hence form should
follow climate.