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Functionalist Architecture (See below for CIAM)

See also- New Objectivity / Rationalism (Neue Sachlichkeit)
Trade Fair Palace from south, Prague Auerbach 1924- the Bauhaus of Walter Gropius. photo: Karlheinz Schmidt (1863-1931) Crematorium at třída Míru street in Olomouc (Czech Republic) from 1931-1932.
Dům odborových svazů, 1989 Husův sbor v Praze 10, Czech Republic Josef Gočár School
Swedish houses by Professor Gunnar Mattsson, 2002. The Nursing Dept building of the Helsinki Polytechnic school represents functional building style of the 1930's (functionalism) Villa of Františeka and Ludmila Kousalík at 33 Na vozovce street in Olomouc (Czech Republic).
Villa of Nakládal at 35 Polívkova street in Olomouc (Czech Republic). Zlín, 21st building in budova in area Svit (Czech Republic).  
Functionalism, in architecture, is the principle that architects should design a building based on the purpose of that building. This statement is less self-evident than it first appears, and is a matter of confusion and controversy within the profession, particularly in regard to modern architecture.

The place of functionalism in building can be traced back to the Vitruvian triad, where 'utilitas' (variously translated as 'commodity', 'convenience', or 'utility') stands alongside 'venustas' (beauty) and 'firmitas' (firmness) as one of three classic goals of architecture. Functionalist views were typical of some gothic revival architects, in particular Augustus Welby Pugin wrote that «there should be no features about a building which are not necessary for convenience, construction, or propriety» and «all ornament should consist of enrichment of the essential construction of the building».

In the early years of the 20th century, Chicago architect Louis Sullivan popularized the phrase 'form ever follows function' to capture his belief that a building's size, massing, spatial grammar and other characteristics should be driven solely by the function of the building. The implication is that if the functional aspects are satisfied, architectural beauty would naturally and necessarily follow.

Sullivan's credo is often viewed as being ironic in light of his extensive use of intricate ornament, since a common belief among functionalist architects is that ornament serves no function. The credo also does not address whose function he means. The architect of an apartment building, for instance, can easily be at cross-purposes with the owners of the building regarding how the building should look and feel, and they could both be at cross-purposes with the future tenants. Nevertheless 'form follows function' expresses a significant and enduring idea. Sullivan's protege Frank Lloyd Wright is also cited as an exemplar of functional design.

The roots of modern architecture lie in the work of the Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and the German architect Mies van der Rohe. Both were functionalists at least to the extent that their buildings were radical simplifications of previous styles. In 1923 Mies van der Rohe was working in Weimar Germany, and had begun his career of producing radically simplified, lovingly detailed structures that achieved Sullivan's goal of inherent architectural beauty. Le Corbusier famously said "a house is a machine for living in"; his 1923 book Vers une architecture was, and still is, very influential, and his early built work such as the Villa Savoye in Poissy, France is thought of as prototypically functional.

In the mid-1930s, functionalism began to be discussed as an aesthetic approach rather than a matter of design integrity. The idea of functionalism was conflated with lack of ornamentation, which is a different matter. It became a pejorative term associated with the most bald and brutal ways to cover space, like cheap commercial buildings and sheds, then finally used, for example in academic criticism of Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, simply as a synonym for 'gauche'.

For 70 years the preeminent and influential American architect Philip Johnson held that the profession has no functional responsibility whatsoever, and this is one of the many views today. Johnson said, "Where form comes from I don’t know, but it has nothing at all to do with the functional or sociological aspects of our architecture".[citation needed] The position of postmodern architect Peter Eisenman is based on a user-hostile theoretical basis and even more extreme: "I don't do function."[citation needed] The best-known architects in the west, like Frank Gehry, Steven Holl, Richard Meier and I.M. Pei, see themselves primarily as artists, with some secondary responsibility to make their buildings functional for clients and/or users.[citation needed].

The debate about functionalism and aesthetics is often framed as a mutually exclusive choice, when in fact there are architects, like Will Bruder, James Polshek and Ken Yeang, who attempt to satisfy all three Vitruvian goals.[citation needed]
^ A.W.N.Pugin, The true principles of pointed or Christian architecture : set forth in two lectures delivered at St. Marie's, Oscott.

Vers une Architecture and Villa Savoye: A Comparison of Treatise and Building - A multipart essay explaining the basics of Le Corbusier's theory and contrasting them with his built work.
Behne, Adolf (1923). The Modern Functional Building. Michael Robinson, trans. Santa Monica: Getty Research Institute, 1996.
Forty, Adrian. "Function". Words and Buildings, A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture. Thames & Hudson, 2000, p. 174-195.

The tower of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium (Y. Lindegren & T. Jäntti, built in 1934-38)
Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne

The Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) (or International Congress of Modern Architecture), founded in 1928 and disbanded in 1959, was a series of international conferences of modern architects.

Formation and membership

The International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM) was founded in June 1928, at the Chateau de la Sarraz in Switzerland, by a group of 28 European architects organized by Le Corbusier, Hélène de Mandrot (owner of the castle), and Sigfried Giedion (the first secretary-general). CIAM was one of many 20th century manifestos meant to advance the cause of "architecture as a social art".

Other founder members included Karl Moser (first president), Hendrik Berlage, Victor Bourgeois, Pierre Chareau, Josef Frank, Gabriel Guevrekian, Max Ernst Haefeli, Hugo Häring, Arnold Höchel, Huib Hoste, Pierre Jeanneret (cousin of Le Corbusier), André Lurçat, Ernst May, Fernando García Mercadal, Hannes Meyer, Werner Moser, Carlo Enrico Rava, Gerrit Rietveld, Alberto Sartoris, Hans Schmidt, Mart Stam, Rudolf Steiger, Henri-Robert Von der Mühll, and Juan de Zavala. The Soviet delegates were to be El Lissitzky, Nikolai Kolli and Moisei Ginzburg, although at the Sarraz conference they were unable to obtain visas.

Other later members included Alvar Aalto, Uno Åhrén, Louis Herman De Koninck (1929) and Fred Forbat. In 1941, Harwell Hamilton Harris was chosen as secretary of the American branch of CIAM, which was the Chapter for Relief and Post War Planning, founded in New York City.


The organization was hugely influential. It was not only engaged in formalising the architectural principles of the Modern Movement, but also saw architecture as an economic and political tool that could be used to improve the world through the design of buildings and through urban planning.

The fourth CIAM meeting in 1933 was to have been held in Moscow. The rejection of Le Corbusier's competition entry for the Palace of the Soviets, a watershed moment and an indication that the Soviets had abandoned CIAM's principles, changed those plans. Instead it was held onboard ship, the SS Patris II, which sailed from Marseilles to Athens.

Here the group discussed concentrated on principles of "The Functional City", which broadened CIAM's scope from architecture into urban planning. Based on an analysis of thirty-three cities, CIAM proposed that the social problems faced by cities could be resolved by strict functional segregation, and the distribution of the population into tall apartment blocks at widely spaced intervals. These proceedings went unpublished from 1933 until 1942, when Le Corbusier, acting alone, published them in heavily edited form as the "Athens Charter."

As CIAM members traveled world-wide after the war, many of its ideas spread outside Europe, notably to the USA. The city planning ideas were adopted in the rebuilding of Europe following World War II, although by then some CIAM members had their doubts. Alison and Peter Smithson were chief among the dissenters. When implemented in the postwar period, many of these ideas were compromised by tight financial constraints, poor understanding of the concepts, or popular resistance. Mart Stam's replanning of postwar Dresden in the CIAM formula was rejected by its citizens as an "all-out attack on the city."

The CIAM organisation disbanded in 1959 as the views of the members diverged. Le Corbusier had left in 1955, objecting to the increasing use of English during meetings.

For a reform of the CIAM, the group Team 10 was active from 1953 onwards, and two different movements emerged from it: the New Brutalism of the English members (Alison and Peter Smithson) and the Structuralism of the Dutch members (Aldo van Eyck and Jacob Bakema).


The elected executive body of CIAM was CIRPAC, the Comité International pour la Résolution des Problèmes de l’Architecture Contemporaine (International Committee for the Resolution of Problems in Contemporary Architecture).


CIAM's conferences consisted of:
1928, CIAM I, La Sarraz, Switzerland, Foundation of CIAM
1929, CIAM II, Frankfurt, Germany, on The Minimum Dwelling
1930, CIAM III, Brussels, Belgium, on Rational Land Development (Rationelle Bebauungsweisen)
1933, CIAM IV, Athens, Greece, on The Functional City (Die Funktionelle Stadt)
1937, CIAM V, Paris, France, on Dwelling and Recovery
1947, CIAM VI, Bridgewater, United States, on Reconstruction of the Cities
1949, CIAM VII, Bergamo, Italy, on Art and Architecture
1951, CIAM VIII, Hoddesdon, England, on The Heart of the City
1953, CIAM IX, Aix-en-Provence, France, on Habitat
1956, CIAM X, Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, on Habitat
1959, CIAM XI, Otterlo, the Netherlands, organized dissolution of CIAM by Team X (Team 10)