‘Form ever follows function’ (Sullivan, 1896)
“First, we shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us” (Churchill, 1943)
‘First we shape our buildings, then they shape us, then we shape them again – ad infinitum. Function reforms form, perpetually.’ (Brand, 1994:3)
Stewart Brand’s reworking of both Sullivan and Churchill’s quotes is a very important observation. His book How Buildings Learn has undoubtably changed the way I think about buildings. Rather than just a focus upon the use of space, he stresses the need to understand buildings through the use of time. It is a verb and a noun, and it involves people.
Things change as are needs change, both people and buildings learn; neither are timeless, they both age. Some do it more gracefully than others. If a building can no longer be useful, it often ceases to be used. We cannot predict the future needs of a building nor of people, but we can make the possibility of adapting it easier or harder:
This dome leaks and its hardly the easiest building to make changes on - whether that’s dividing walls inside or adding an extension when you need more room. Plus I’d constantly by fearful of golf-playing giants (and judging by the owners’ UFO I would have thought that they are probably scared of that, too).
Of course this is an extreme example, but still, the argument Stewart Brand makes is build for change because not everyone wants to stick to the architect’s original plans: