Practical Form in Architecture. To support my idea, I will make analysis of Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe.

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Practical Form in Architecture


Introduction        1

Text: Practical Form        2

1.Form and Environment        2

2.Form and Function        4

3.Form and Culture        5

Conclusion        6

Bibliography        7


Form is an important way of expressing one’s artistic thoughts and emotion in architectural design, and it has been valued, thought deeply, and talked about by lots of architects in history. Because of their work, there is a wide variety of architecture forms created these days, with more and more buildings designed by architects. These forms provide the public with enormous visual pleasure and spiritual fulfillment. However, even if the form seems good, the creation of form could be a failure when it fails to reconcile with reality. So I believe that form must be practical. Here practical means the creation of form is likely to be effective or successful in a real situation. In this research paper, I’m going to elaborate this idea in mainly three aspects: form and environment, form and function, and form and cultural context. To support my idea, I will make analysis of Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in these three aspects.

Practical Form

A practical form is one that adapts to the real world, and in turn, has good impacts on it. To achieve practicability, many factors need to be considered such as environment, function, and culture.

Form and environment

Architecture is set in a certain environment, which includes surrounding, topography, climate and etc. From these factors should the form of a project be reasoned. And the existence of this building form in its surrounding is supposed to influence the area in a good way. That’s how form becomes practical in the sense of environment.

A typical example of this is Farnsworth House. The house is built on the right bank of the Fox River, and it is surrounded by a small forest. To fit in the natural environment, it is designed to be extremely transparent. Because of its transparent form, the house is almost invisible, and this character shows the respect to nature.1  The house becomes part of the nature, for its fusion of interior and exterior. Also, since the river floods in spring, the building is raised from the ground to avoid being submerged by water. After the raise, the house seems like a boat floating on the water during the flood season, which fits the environment very well from the angle of form. However, there are parts which fail to deal with the demand of the environment. For example, the thin glass wall doesn’t suit the climate there. Besides, the platforms are not big enough to shield the house from the sun, which is not proper in this flat area, where there are sparse trees and no other building around the house.

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Fig. 1. Mies van der Rohe, Farnsworth House, 1950-51, Plano, Illinois, USA; Partial elevation view, to show its transparency.

1. Werner Blaser, MiesvanderRohe,FarnsworthHouse:WeekendHouse, trans. Katja Steiner and Bruce

Almberg (Basel: Birkhauser-Publishers for Architecture, 1999), 11.

Fig. 2. Mies, Farnsworth House; The house in flood

On the other hand, with Farnsworth House, the artificial work in it, this area becomes more friendly to human. The simple, light form of this house resolved the weight of the forest, and makes people feel relaxed ...

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