Is the Useful the Beautiful ?

In 1896, Sullivan invented the celebrated aphorism "Form follows function" which dips its roots into notions of "character" and of "talking architecture" developed in the 18th century. Before him, the sculptor Greenough and the architect Viollet-le-Duc developed durable theories that have marked modern architecture. The most radical questioning of these had its day with Alvar Aalto who, in 1940, called for the humanization of architecture by passing over a technical functionalism in favour of a functionalism with more than its due part made over to "psycho-sociology". The demise of functionalism occurred in 1974 under the pen of an American critic Peter Blake. Since then, two attitudes have had their day: the celebration of form for the sake of form, or the assertion of the primacy of the constituent materials of the walls.