Modern architecture


The topic which concerns us here today would have been inconceivable before the end of the nineteenth century when architects were from the start divided between an aesthetic and a technical approach. Le Corbusier, one of the pioneers of Modern architecture, dedicated to search for some kind of principles which could guide architects when designing in the new age. His book Vers Une Architecture ("Towards a New Architecture") published in 1923 which is the same year he proposed " One single building for all nations ", outlined his early views of architecture, he described a house as a machine for living, to him, buildings to fulfill their functions is just like machines to complete their tasks. At that time, the dictum " form follows the function" coined by American architect Louis Sullivan in 1896 had already rooted deeply in his mind. What then are the things that determine the function of a building. I think most of us would agree with !!!!! that " Human needs are the basis for concepts of functionalism." In the following paragraphs I would like to debate against Le Corbusier's assumption that "All man have the same need" based on two models, one is Kimberley Dovey's "The Dialectics of Home"( Figure 1 ), The other is Jon Lang's "The Hierarchy of Human Needs and Design Concerns"( Figure 2 ).

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Dovey summarized his idea into a dialectic model ( figure 2 ) in order to convey an understanding of the dynamic process through which the order, identity and connectedness of home come into being ( 1985 ). He divided those dialectical oppositions into spatial based ones and sociocultural based ones. In this essay I am going to emphasize on his primary idea "home and journey", in the aid of Jon Lang's Human Needs model, by using three types of home from my own experiences in recent years as examples, in order to demonstrate the idea that human needs are different in different stages of life and in different culture, furthermore, the way in which these needs are manifested are different as well.

The first example is the dormitory provided by the university from which I got my first BEng degree in China. The university is about 4000 miles away from my hometown, and it was the first time in my life being so far away from home. In Chinese universities, all the facilities like accommodations, restaurants, hospitals, are all inside the enclosed campus. The building I lived in accommodates at least 1200 students from the same year, each 4 students from the same course share one 15 square meters room ( Figure 3 ). The room is definitely small and crowded, and we had to accept everything ( in terms of orientation, fittings and furnishings, etc. ) which were already there. What we could do were decorating the room to give it a cosy and comfortable feeling. At the age of 18, self-actualization needs, aesthetic needs and cognitive needs seemed to be more dominant, in that stage, the basic needs were attained because the university had provided those things which support our basic life as students, it is obtained through being part of the stable social order. I could really concentrate in achieving the other needs by taking part in all kinds of activities, by learning new skills, by searching for a way of life which best fitted me, by striving toward self-realization. I can clearly remember the nights we talk about our little secrets, our love, our future..., during those years, I was always fulfilled with social relationships, and was able to control over my life, just before my graduation I made the decision to come to Britain. So to me, it took time to turn a journey into a home, and in this sense, it is a room inside a university building; it is the home oriented me and connected me with the past, the future, the physical environment, and the social world ( Dovey 1985 ); It is a place that are bound up with the lives, requirements and wishes of the people who have conceived and then realised them( Teyssot 1986 ).

The second example is a rented room in Newcastle, in the similar way with Margaret Mead(1972), I will describe my struggles to establish a sense of home throughout the time of living in a western country, in order to counter Le Corbusier's perception that "all man have the same need" and to address that there are considerable variability among individuals in the manifestation of the needs in different culture. Travelling from a developing country to a developed country, from a collectivist culture to an individualist culture. I was able to see the cultural differences that range from attitudes toward the world as a whole to attitudes toward the relationships between people and between people and objects. While choosing a place to live, among other considerations, I wanted to find an affordable room in a traditional English house rather than in a modern flat, a place a little bit far away from the town center with convenient public transport services. With these needs bearing in mind, I finally found a 6 m? room in a two-story detached house shared by other two girls from Hong Kong. I was not excepting a perfect home here, but the place became the center of security, of shelter, of warmth and gained meaning through time and activity, through friendship and through their joint efferts(Dovey 1986). In China, most families live in apartments dew to our high population and relatively low percentage of residential spaces, we can sometimes hear the people living around, so we may not have as much privacy as we want. Although there are objections to British mass-produced houses concerning about their failure in reflecting the age in which we live. But when it comes to me, who never lived in a house with stairs and gardens before, the sense of home just echos my childhood images of what home should be like-a pitched roof house with both back and front yards to enjoy the sunshine, to grow flowers, to play around while waiting for my parents back from work. Although those images of home are no longer the same, it is also makes me feel being-at-home while living in such a place. For a newcomer in a foreign country, the basic needs weight more than the cognitive needs, and the way these needs be fulfilled vary from different culture. No matter how hard I tried to find a familiar way of life, it will always come down to reality that I have to be in a Britain state of mind, wherever it is Chinatown or riverside.

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The last example is my hometown, in this sense, this home is a city within a nation, a place of rest from which I move outward and return, a place of nurture where my energies and spirits are regenerated before the next journey(Seamon, 1979), a place where our identity is continually evoked through connections with the past, a place established who we are by where we have come from(Dovey, 1986). It is the place I was born and grown up, it links with my childhood home, and evokes all the memories of the time with family,with friends, the familiar settings that exist in the city motivate me to achieve my specific needs in specific stage of life, these needs manifested in the way like Maslow(1987) identified in his book Motivation and Personality, that "the most pre-potent goal will monopolize consciousness...and when a need is fairly well satisfied,the next pre-potent(higher) need emerged." In a collectivistic country like China, the way in which physiological needs and security needs are fulfilled have much to do with the community or organization one belongs to, and they are achieved partly through an interdependent social relationship.The apartment my family live in is provided by the company my parents work in, so is my grandparents', my relative's, all those homes are in the same district of the city, and even when we're buying commercial apartments, the first thing to consider is always the distance to the other family member's home. It seems that we are not able to establish the sense of home while being apart from the big family. The home here is a schema of relationships that bring order, integrity, and meaning to experience in place-a series of connections between person and the world:connected with people, with the place, with the past and future (Dovey 1986). In such a home we never live like an island but as a part of the whole stable responsible society, in the same way we attain our own needs, we contribute to the fulfillmet of others' needs, and there are times one's needs may overlap the others' at a certain stage of life.

In conclusion, it must be recognized that there is considerable variability among the human needs, the manifestation of these needs and the way of fulfilling them. The needs depend on the different stages of people's life, and vary from culture to culture. As Jon(1987) said,"The stage at which people are in their life cycles makes a major difference in establishing their needs and their competences to attain them." and "The attitude toward both basic and cognitive needs and the degree to which they require fulfilling vary from culture to culture." So, Le Corbusier was wrong by generally deeming all man's needs can be universal, although, he was able to see it in much more human terms in his designs than his critics have, but here, by saying "all man have the same need", he just considered neither the full range of human needs nor the differences that exist within and across cultures.