The Triumph of Function over Form The Role of Analytic Philosophy in Planning and Analysing Modern Architecture

Borbala Jasz


The most dominant dialectical succession of architectural thinking during the 20th Century was between form and function. The latter of these two modern ways of architectural thinking is based on the results of Carnapian Neopositivism. The keywords of this philosophical school, that are empiricism, logic, verification, unity of language and science, could still be applied to interpreting modern architecture. I will explain the antecedents and the first connection between analytic philosophy and architecture, and some characteristic points of their influence during the 20th Century: the triumph of function over form as analogous to triumph of analytic philosophy over metaphysics.

After the theoretic grounding of the form-function debate, I am going to focus first on the characteristic appearance of form: the Façadism of Socialist Realism in the architecture of East-Central Europe. Second, I will explain that architectural tendencies of classical modernism did not disappear in this period, they were just hidden in case of public buildings or migrated to the industrial planning. Third, I am going to claim that after this socialist realist gap, the architectural theory and planning tendencies of the interwar period – especially the work of Le Corbusier – returned and continued.

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