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The Function of Style: How Farshid Moussavi Redefines Style in Architecture


The Function of Style Farshid Moussavi.epub: A Review




Style is one of the most contested and debated concepts in architecture. It is often used to describe the distinctive features or characteristics of a building, a group of buildings, or an architectural movement. It is also often associated with aesthetic judgments, personal preferences, or cultural values. But what is style exactly and why does it matter for architecture?




The Function Of Style Farshid Moussavi.epub



In this article, I will review the book "The Function of Style" by Farshid Moussavi, an internationally acclaimed architect and professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The book is the third volume in her "Function" series, following "The Function of Form" (2009) and "The Function of Ornament" (2006). In this book, Moussavi argues that style is not a superficial or arbitrary aspect of architecture, but a vital and powerful tool that can be used to create diverse and innovative buildings that respond to the changing needs and desires of everyday life.


I will first summarize the main argument and structure of the book, then I will discuss its three main parts: The Function of Style: A New Approach to Architectural Style; The Function of Style: A Network of Connections; and The Function of Style: A Tool for Architects Today. Finally, I will conclude with some critical reflections on the book's contributions, challenges, and implications for architectural theory and practice.


The Function of Style: A New Approach to Architectural Style




In this part, Moussavi introduces her definition and approach to style in architecture. She defines style as "the way in which buildings affect users" (p. 10). She argues that style is not a matter of taste, expression, or representation, but a matter of function. She explains that style affects users in two ways: by transmitting affects (such as curvilinearity, crystallinity, multiplicity, unity, cellularity, openness, dematerialization, weight) and by organizing affects (such as rhythm, pattern, texture, color). She claims that these affects are not inherent or fixed properties of buildings, but rather emergent and variable effects of the interaction between buildings and users.


Moussavi challenges the conventional notions of style that have dominated architectural discourse and practice since the 18th century. She criticizes the idea of style as a reflection of the architect's personality, the historical period, or the cultural context. She also criticizes the idea of style as a representation of a concept, a meaning, or a message. She argues that these notions of style are based on a hierarchical and dualistic view of architecture that separates form and function, appearance and essence, surface and depth. She proposes instead a flat and relational view of architecture that considers form and function, appearance and essence, surface and depth as inseparable and interdependent aspects of architecture.


Moussavi proposes a new approach to style that is based on the micro-politics of everyday life. She contends that style is not determined by external forces, such as the architect's intention, the client's demand, or the social context, but by internal forces, such as the user's perception, experience, and behavior. She suggests that style is not a static or universal category, but a dynamic and contingent process. She asserts that style is not a singular or homogeneous entity, but a plural and heterogeneous network. She aims to show how style can be used as an instrument to create diverse and innovative buildings that respond to the changing needs and desires of everyday life.


The Function of Style: A Network of Connections




In this part, Moussavi illustrates the network of connections between different architectural styles and their functions. She analyzes and compares various buildings across different contexts and scales, from residential to commercial, from urban to rural, from public to private. She uses diagrams, drawings, and photographs to show how different buildings transmit and organize different affects for different users. She demonstrates how different buildings are related to each other by sharing some affects while varying others.


Moussavi organizes this part into eight chapters, each focusing on one affect: curvilinearity, crystallinity, multiplicity, unity, cellularity, openness, dematerialization, weight. In each chapter, she presents four case studies of buildings that transmit the same affect but organize it differently. For example, in the chapter on curvilinearity, she compares the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by Frank Gehry (1997), the Kunsthaus Graz by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier (2003), the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku by Zaha Hadid (2012), and the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London by Sou Fujimoto (2013). She shows how these buildings transmit curvilinearity as an affect that creates smoothness, fluidity, continuity, and movement for the users. However, she also shows how these buildings organize curvilinearity differently in terms of their form (from blob to mesh), their structure (from steel to timber), their material (from metal to plastic), their color (from silver to white), their light (from natural to artificial), their program (from museum to pavilion), their site (from urban to park), and their context (from Spain to Azerbaijan).


Moussavi demonstrates the diversity and complexity of contemporary architecture and its relation to everyday life. She reveals how different buildings can produce different effects for different users in different situations. She argues that style is not a fixed or predetermined attribute of buildings, but a variable and emergent outcome of the interaction between buildings and users. She claims that style is not a matter of preference or taste, but a matter of function and performance.


The Function of Style: A Tool for Architects Today




In this part, Moussavi applies her approach to style to her own architectural projects and practice. She shows how she uses style as a productive and creative tool to design diverse and innovative buildings that respond to the changing needs and desires of everyday life. She presents four case studies of her own projects: The Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland (2012), The Victoria Beckham Flagship Store in London (2014), The La Défense Residential Complex in Paris (ongoing), The Montpellier Residential Complex in Montpellier (ongoing). She explains how she uses style as a means to innovate and experiment with new forms and functions of architecture.


Moussavi shows how she uses style as a way to create new affects for new users. For example, in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, she uses crystallinity as an affect that creates sharpness, clarity, contrast, and dynamism for the visitors. She designs a faceted form that reflects the changing light conditions and views of the city. She uses black stainless steel as a material that contrasts with the surrounding brick buildings. She creates an open plan that allows flexible exhibition spaces and public programs. She aims to create a building that engages with its urban context and its cultural mission.


Moussavi shows how she uses style as a way to vary existing affects for existing users. For example, in the Victoria Beckham Flagship Store in London, she uses multiplicity as an affect that creates diversity, flexibility, modularity, and adaptability for the customers. She designs a grid system that allows different configurations of display units and furniture. She uses concrete as a material that contrasts with the refined products. She creates a double-height space that connects the ground floor and the basement. She aims to create a building that responds to the changing needs and demands of the fashion industry.


Moussavi shows how she uses style as a way to combine different affects for different users. For example, in the La Défense Residential Complex in Paris, she uses cellularity as an affect that creates differentiation, individualization, customization, and personalization for the residents. She designs a cellular facade that allows different types and sizes of apartments. She uses glass as a material that reflects the natural light and the cityscape. She creates a variety of balconies and terraces that offer outdoor spaces and views. She aims to create a building that accommodates the diverse lifestyles and preferences of the urban dwellers.


Moussavi shows how she uses style as a way to transform existing affects for new users. For example, in the Montpellier Residential Complex in Montpellier, she uses openness as an affect that creates porosity, connectivity, transparency, and interaction for the inhabitants. She designs a porous form that allows natural ventilation and cooling. She uses wood as a material that contrasts with the concrete surroundings. She creates a communal courtyard and garden that offer green spaces and social activities. She aims to create a building that adapts to the climatic conditions and the environmental challenges of the region.


Conclusion




In this article, I have reviewed the book "The Function of Style" by Farshid Moussavi, an internationally acclaimed architect and professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The book is the third volume in her "Function" series, following "The Function of Form" (2009) and "The Function of Ornament" (2006). In this book, Moussavi argues that style is not a superficial or arbitrary aspect of architecture, but a vital and powerful tool that can be used to create diverse and innovative buildings that respond to the changing needs and desires of everyday life.


I have summarized the main argument and structure of the book, then I have discussed its three main parts: The Function of Style: A New Approach to Architectural Style; The Function of Style: A Network of Connections; and The Function of Style: A Tool for Architects Today. I have shown how Moussavi defines style as "the way in which buildings affect users" (p. 10) and how she proposes a new approach to style based on the micro-politics of everyday life and the effects of buildings on users. I have also shown how Moussavi illustrates the network of connections between different architectural styles and their functions by analyzing and comparing various buildings across different contexts and scales. Finally, I have shown how Moussavi applies her approach to style to her own architectural projects and practice by presenting four case studies of her own projects.


The book "The Function of Style" by Farshid Moussavi is a valuable and original contribution to architectural theory and practice. It offers a new perspective on style that challenges the conventional notions of style as a matter of taste, expression, or representation. It also offers a new method for style that demonstrates the diversity and complexity of contemporary architecture and its relation to everyday life. It provides a new tool for style that shows the potential of style as a productive and creative tool for architects today.


However, the book also has some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed. First, the book does not provide a clear definition or explanation of what affects are and how they are produced or perceived by users. It seems to assume that affects are self-evident or universal categories that can be easily identified or measured. Second, the book does not provide a clear criteria or framework for selecting or comparing different buildings or styles. It seems to rely on subjective or arbitrary choices that may not be convincing or relevant for other readers or practitioners. Third, the book does not provide a clear reflection or evaluation of the outcomes or impacts of using style as a tool for architecture. It seems to assume that style is always positive or beneficial for users without considering possible drawbacks or risks.


Therefore, the book opens up some future directions and possibilities for further research and practice on style in architecture. First, it would be interesting to explore more in depth the concept and theory of affects and how they can be understood and applied in architecture. Second, it would be useful to develop more rigorous and systematic methods for analyzing and comparing different buildings or styles and their functions and effects. Third, it would be important to assess and critique the results and consequences of using style as a tool for architecture and how they can be improved or optimized.


FAQs




  • What is the main argument of the book "The Function of Style" by Farshid Moussavi?



  • The main argument of the book is that style is not a superficial or arbitrary aspect of architecture, but a vital and powerful tool that can be used to create diverse and innovative buildings that respond to the changing needs and desires of everyday life.



  • How does Moussavi define style and what are its functions?



  • Moussavi defines style as "the way in which buildings affect users" (p. 10). She argues that style affects users in two ways: by transmitting affects (such as curvilinearity, crystallinity, multiplicity, unity, cellularity, openness, dematerialization, weight) and by organizing affects (such as rhythm, pattern, texture, color).



  • How does Moussavi illustrate the network of connections between different architectural styles and their functions?



  • Moussavi illustrates the network of connections by analyzing and comparing various buildings across different contexts and scales. She shows how different buildings transmit and organize different affects for different users. She also shows how different buildings are related to each other by sharing some affects while varying others.



  • How does Moussavi apply her approach to style to her own architectural projects and practice?



  • Moussavi applies her approach to style by using style as a productive and creative tool to design diverse and innovative buildings that respond to the changing needs and desires of everyday life. She presents four case studies of her own projects: The Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland (2012), The Victoria Beckham Flagship Store in London (2014), The La Défense Residential Complex in Paris (ongoing), The Montpellier Residential Complex in Montpellier (ongoing).



  • What are some of the challenges and limitations of her approach to style?



  • Some of the challenges and limitations are: the lack of a clear definition or explanation of what affects are and how they are produced or perceived by users; the lack of a clear criteria or framework for selecting or comparing different buildings or styles; the lack of a clear reflection or evaluation of the outcomes or impacts of using style as a tool for architecture.



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