Influence of Functionalism in Modern Architecture and in Minimalism

The human brain is an important organ in a human body. The brain controls a person’s actions and most importantly it is responsible for any innovations and inventions in the society.  The fact that the brain acts as the Centre for control of both internal and external operations of a person, it is of interest to scholars. Psychologists believe that a person’s behavior can be explained by understanding their mental state. While there are no or minimal disagreements concerning the role and the ability of the brains to control the functions of a human body, as well as their responses to the external environment, scholars who specialize in the study of brain and mental states have different opinions in regards to what constitutes a mental state. On one hand, psychologists who believe in the theory of mind body dualism believe that minds and thoughts are substances and the brain is made of those substances which are referred to as res cogitant.   On the other hand, functionalists argue that it is hardly possible to tell what comprises thoughts and minds but instead brains can be described by their actions.  This paper is aimed at expounding on the psychological concept of functionalism where the main focus will be to compare modern architecture and minimalists as defined by functionalism.

The concept of functionalism has revolutionized the building industry more so the works of architects. Previously, before the concept of functionalism became popular, architects believed that a professional architect should design a house depending on factors such as  the required size of the building, massing and spatial grammar just to mention a few. Traditional architecture requires that an architect avoid designing a building based on their or the owner’s desired outcomes. The need to come up with a building based on the available materials among other consideration is the primary objective of architects. According to Fielding & Taylor, one of the competitive techniques employed by modern architects is the ability to design unique and outstanding buildings in terms of their designs. Traditional architects did not emphasize on the need to focus on an architect’s design but instead the goal was to come up with a building.  An architect work could be judged depending on whether or not the architect was able to construct a building by adhering to the given instructions. 

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The concept of functionalism brought drastic changes into the building industry. In line with the concept of functionalism, where an object is defined by its ability to achieve a certain intended purpose, modern architects believe that the main focus of an architect should be to come up with a building that serves the intended purpose.  In modern architecture, architects are allowed to come up with a building which suits their intended purpose or that of a building owner. Vidler argues that architects usually have an idea of how they wish to design a building and functionalism allows such architects to come up with a building that is a reflection of their imagined structure. The materials and other factors that are of concern in the building activity are varied depending on the image that an architect has and the objective that they wish to achieve. Modern architecture focuses on more on the function of a building than on its nature. 

On the other hand, the concept of minimalism is founded on the belief that less is better than more.   Minimalism as the name suggests, is the belief that the use of few things allows one to come up with a fine, simple and an outstanding art. According to Bertoni, minimalism aims at achieving three main objectives; clarity, purpose and intentionality.  In the world of architecture, supporters of this concept argue that architects who are minimalists achieve two goals concurrently (ibid). First, they come up with outstanding buildings that are enhanced by the simplicity used in the designing and painting of the structures and. Secondly, minimalists come up with the needed structures by avoiding exaggerated use of materials that is likely to happen in modern architecture, where architects use as much materials as possible as they try to achieve the purpose of the building. Furthermore, minimalists believe that the purpose of both an architect and the owner of the structure can be achieved even when less is used. Using less does not in any way imply that one deviates from the primary objective but enables one to remain focused and conservative in the manner in which they use resources. 

Though both modern architecture, which is based on the concept of functionalism, and minimalism are founded on different ideologies, the two concepts are similar to a large extent.  Both minimalists and modern architects aim at obtaining a structure that meets the purpose of the architect. The motivating objective is the need to achieve the intended purpose of an item. For instance, if a building is intended to serve as a restraint, both modern architects and minimalists, first focus on designing and acquiring a structure that can serve that purpose. There is no party that deviates from the sole purpose of their activities. However, though the ability to achieve the intended purpose is of top concern to both, the two might have different views in regards to what constitutes the primary purpose. For instance, minimalists might be interested in acquiring a house that can accommodate a family but a modern architect may further get interested in things such as the availability of a playground and the kind of ceiling materials used in the construction of the building. 

There exist significant differences between minimalism and modern architecture.  Modern architecture is concerned with the maximization of a well pre-defined purpose while minimalists are not interested in the maximization of the primary goal. By having a well-defined purpose, modern architects aim at ensuring that the purpose is not only achieved for its own sake but is achieved in the best way possible.  The need to optimize the purpose is not there in minimalism. Minimalists aim to achieve the least where the focus is to ensure that the goal is achieved regardless of how it is achieved. For instance, in the construction of a building, modern architects are concerned with the nature of paintings used as well as the designs of a building while minimalists do not consider such additional details as being important. 

Secondly, modern architects choose items based on a well-defined purpose which is not the case in minimalism. Minimalists are concerned with acquiring an item where the act acquisition and ownership is the primary goal while modern architects consider acquisition as a secondary objective with the primary objective being to get an item that meets the needs of the concerned person.

Thirdly, functionalism as applied in modern architecture uses taste as a criterion of choosing amongst a variety of items.  The concept of modern architecture recognizes the fact that though items of the same category can meet the intended purpose in the same manner, people have different tastes and preferences about why those items should look or be designed. Functionalism, therefore, first considered the unique tastes and preferences of a person which act as guidance in the choosing and decision making process of the item to build. On the contrary, minimalists do not consider the difference that exists in people’s tastes and preferences.

Last but not the least; minimalists have only one objective to achieve which is to obtain minimalism. The concept of minimalism is self-centered where every activity carried out by minimalists is done for its own sake with no consideration of any other factors. Modern architects, however extend their interests from just achieving the primary goal but also ensuring that the purpose is achieved after consideration of other factors.

Conclusively, though functionalism and minimalism are different in the nature of their operations, the two concepts are important in the industry of architecture.  Functionalism plays a significant role of ensuring that beauty, uniqueness and invention is achieved in the industry whereby architects aim at meeting their preferred tastes. On the other hand, minimalism ensures that the growth of the industry takes place as people embrace simplicity and use of few things. Use of many yet not necessary items may scare away some people from acquiring items.  Both the growth of the architecture industry and innovation are important to the industry which makes both concepts important with none being superior or inferior to the other. 

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