The relation between a place and the building ubicated there can be characterized by four different things. If it is characterized by its contrast it means that the relation with the place is of juxtaposition or abstraction and that the architecture dominates the landscape or is alien to it. If it is characterized by its camouflage it means that the relation with the place is of extreme integration, of mimesis. If it is characterized by its organicism it means that it is a nod to the place and integration is done by reinterpreting its elements, it shows sensitivity towards the place. Finally if it is characterized by its contextualism it means that the relationship with the place is justifiable, which has to do with the meaning expressed by the building.


Some well-known architects give a lot of importance to the space in architecture, such as Adolf Loos who said “ The outside is the result of what happens inside”, Alois Riegl who said “The objective of architecture is divided in two parts […] the creation of space and the creation of the limits of that space”, or  Louis Kahn who said “Architecture is the studied construction of spaces. The continous renovation of architecture comes from the evolution of concepts of the past ». 

In the history of architecture the classic space was characterized by its closed and compact space, because the historical architecture has been of massive wall type, that is a structural question has given the closed and compact character. In the Renaissance as well as being a closed space, inheriting the characteristics of the classical space, it was centralized, with at least one axis of symmetry, and in Baroque it followed the classical heritage and experimented with centralized spaces with tension (2 axes in the ellipse).

On the other hand in the history of architecture a uniform space was a space without center and it had as a background the Japanese space (tatami). These were abstract, rational, perceived spaces: they did not exist until they were lived or used. The Modern movement broke the compact space, let the space flow, allowing horizontal (interior-exterior) and vertical connections.

Finally, in the contemporary space, the first defining feature of the proposal is the total and absolute confusion of the public space with the space of relation. The entire building space is unique and continuous, and the concept of free section is born: it consists of ending the tyranny of the horizontal plane, deforming it, twisting it, etc. Before the section had been worked but without losing the horizontality.


The function is not the main problem of architecture, the concept of function associated with architecture has always existed, and evidence of it is the Utilitas of Vitruvio. You have to ask yourself what you have to build (geometry, shape, material, etc.) to satisfy a function. 

Throughout history there have been several types of functionalism: the mechanical functionalism, the organic functionalism and the moralistic functionalism.

In the first place, mechanical functionalism has its roots in the Industrial Revolution. Its form is a direct and mechanical consequence of the functions to which it is linked and the beauty comes automatically from the most perfect mechanical efficiency and not from a deliberate search for beauty.

The great architect  Mies van der Rohe once made a statement about this topic: “We do not know of any formal problems, only constructive problems. Form is not the goal but the result of our work. From itself does not exist. Form as a goal is formalism, and we reject that. Inventing is not the task of architecture”.

In the second place, in organic functionalism the form takes on a biological sense and adapts itself to the living functions which must be carried out in the environment (architecture), that is, adapted to human activities and the social environment. It develops from within to outside in harmony with human activities and it relates to the place as if it was born from there.

Finally in the third place, in moralistic functionalism utility exists for and end. It comes from the classical aesthetic which argued that something can be considered beautiful, when it is useful and suitable to its end. In this type of functionalism beauty and utility are so close that they become confused, beauty means precisely to make visible its utility, what it serves. Defining what is useful acquires a capital importance in this approach to modern functionalism and becomes a moral issue.


As Bruno Taut said “To those who maintain the architecture derives only from function, only from technique or only from construction, it can be answered with the same security that architecture derives only from an idea, only from space, only from the instinct of beauty and joy”.

The form is the external configuration of things, it is the way of being distributed the matter of a body, and the arrangement of the parts of a whole according to certain relationships. In opposition to the rear, the form is the appearance of a thing: what is seen of it with the senses or in a superficial examination.

The rhythm is the sequence or repetition of shapes in space. There are many options with rhythm in the architecture visible plan elevations and sections, by separating windows in the wall, columns in a colonnade, pillars in an arcade.

An axis is a linear element that marks a direction and distributes the space or elements around it. 

The symmetry is the regular arrangement of parts or points of a body or figure in relation to a centre, axle or plan.

The hierarchy is the relationship of supremacy of an element over others based on an established approach.

A module is a unitary element which serves as a proportional unit and which is repeated on the same scale or at different scales.

A grid is a composition based on a grid of axes serving as a guide.

The movement is the irregularity of the forms and the variants of the order inspire the idea of movement, of displacement.

The unit is the relationship of the parts to the whole so that nothing should be removed or added.

The centrality is the organization of space around a center that creates attraction towards it. The center is not necessarily the geometric center nor a physical point, but it is the focal center.

The balancing is the complementary relationships between the elements of a composition. If the elements are equal and symmetrical we speak about static equilibrium, if they are compensated by geometric difference, color(…) we speak about dynamic equilibrium.

The limit is the edge of the elements of the composition where there is a change from the rest.

As for light, Le Corbusier once said “Architecture is the learned game; correct and magnificent of forms assembled in the light. Our eyes are made to see the forms under the light: the shadows and the clearings reveal the forms”.

The contrast is the opposition or remarkable difference between elements to produce a dynamic effect on the composition.

A color is the chromatic manifestation of the elements to be used.

The texture is the surface finishing of the elements involved in the final perception of architecture.

The proportion is the harmonic relation of dimensions according to certain mathematical or geometric rules.

The scale is the relation between the size of the building and the size of the human being. Usually, in buildings there are many keys to appreciate its size (windows, doors, steps, etc). The dimensions can be intentionally altered in order to alter our sense of scale.


According to Semper, in the process of technological evolution the materials and the structures are replaced by new ones, but the shapes remain alive and active, translated into new technological realities but perpetually expressed as symbols of the first materials and the primitive need to protect man.

The materials used for constructing buildings can be of three types: extracted directly from nature, transformed from natural materials and the new materials discovered.

In the first case, some of the materials extracted directly from nature are the ones shown in the following images:

In the second case, some of the materials created by the transformation of natural materials are the ones shown in the following images: 

In the last case, some of the new discovered materials that make possible the creation of new shapes and therefore a new language, are the ones shown in the following images:

The technology of the Roman construction was characterized by the extraordinary availability of material means and manpower, largely non-specialized. The basic material for Roman construction was lime concrete used with formworks or as a filling between two external layers of brick, masonry or small pieces of carved stone. The arch and vault were the main elements for coverage and the walls were the basic supports. The resistance was sufficient and all that was required for the stability of the building was that the supports were thick and solid enough to withstand without deforming with the weight and forces of the vaults.

In the case of the Romanesque construction, it was characterized by the creation of the roof with barrel vaults reinforced by arches. Those arches were placed underneath the vaults, resting on the pillars that separate the central nave from the sides, and acting as permanent formwork which were able to adapt, being made with small pieces, to the deformations they could experience. The walls were reinforced with exterior buttresses, with wooden shoulders embedded in the wall and with the increase of the section of inner pillars in the direction of the lateral forces. The barrel vaults were replaced by groin vaults, which represented a new covering system that did not depend on the rigidity of the walls because the forces were directly transmitted to the pillars through the combined action of the arches. The construction resulting from these innovations was a construction with clearly load bearing parts (arches, pillars, buttresses) and others that started to be simple enclosures (walls between buttresses).

In the case of Gothic construction, it ended up definitely solving the problem thanks to the pointed arch, the rib vault, the buttress and the pinnacles. The principle of Gothic (and still are those of modern construction) was that of balancing forces instead of the principle of inert stability. Compression forces opposed to traction force. The difference between classical and Gothic architecture is that the first was passive, merely channels and absorbs forces, while the second was dynamic, since it had a group of forces that were of opposite-sign.

Nowadays, the Computer Aided Design (CAD) represents an innovation in the generation of architectural shapes, and the Building Information Modeling (BIM) also adds the collaborative management to the Project, but the question is: do they really revolutionize constructive technology?

Currently prefabrication, in some ways, changes the way we build or manage construction, but here the questions are: does it really represent an innovation of the architectural form? is this the beginning of a new way of conceiving architecture?


Text and images: https://prezi.com/view/wlAgMqr3MRB3rBbpagZH/