Pattern Language

Pattern Language

Shenzhen Shen

The function of decoration

Decorative elements are everywhere these days,our libraries, post office and rail road stations, are enlarged carbon copies of antique temples, churches have become photographically reduced cathedrals, we gradually have become such addicts of the habit—— forming drug of monumental that we cannot take the fresh air of the open spaces created by the athletic structures of today. 

Today’s decorative elements can be seen everywhere, people are addicted to form. Also. today`s design is really only silent admission of defeat, lack of imagination, and fear of the so called public opinion. inertia and fear control our daily lives, sometimes excessive and meaningless decoration stack, is not poetic or beautiful at all. So, why shouldn`t we stop when the meaning is conveyed, decoration can be presented in a simpler and more relaxed form, but it also has functions.(Jacques Grillo, 1975). From the past to the present, the forms of churches have become more and more complicated, but in fact, the functions  of the simple forms of churches in the past and the complex forms of churches in the present are the same — both are devotion spaces, and places for religious activities. The handles of tools desgined by stone ages people show a better understanding of function than what we buy in stores today. The subtle changes in the form of containers daily used by the family of man show the direct functional reason for what we have come to think of as a matter of style.(Jacques Grillo, 1975) Since the difference between the past and the present church is the style of form, but the function is the same, so, can we simplify the form of the church and show the function of the church in a purer form?

Adolf Loss said: “The evolution of culture marches with the elimation of ornament from useful objects.” Building are defined first and foremost by their purpose, and that`s exactly how they should appear. (Loos, Whiteside and Masheck, n.d.)His buildings were often composed of pure forms and were justified by their economic practicality and utilitarian qualities.Nowadays, there are too many decorative elements in architecture. People design for the form, but ignore the function.However, beauty should come from the pursuit of function, rather than using decoration modeling.Therefore, excessive pursuit of form is meaningless, form should start from the essential needs of people. So I want to simplify the form and better reflect the function of architecture. 

It was said by Christopher Alexander”no building ever feels right to the people in it unless the physical spaces(defined by columns, walls, and ceilings)are congruent with the social spaces (defined by activities and human groups).”(Alexander 1990)So I think the form of the church should correspond to the religious activities, reflect the thought of religion. After understanding how the form  follows the function (including how to reflect the function of religious spirit and the practical function), I need to summarize the characteristics of the form of the church in a geometric way by studying the relationship between form and function,  so as to simplify the figure as well as efficiently express its function.

The reason I chose to simplify the church is that in the past, many people would go to the church to do the religiou activities, however, as time goes on, people now seldom go to the church. The relationship between church and people have changed, the form of the church might be change according to the relationship. At the present, the lifestyle of people is more simple, so i think the form of the church can also be presented in a simple way, but also have the function of the devotion space. After analysing the repetitive patterns on the facade I also intended to analyse their symbolic meaning behind the design. From the anthemion to the rosettes, from the scale to the geometry, from the function to the scale I kept thinking  ‘Will the church keep the devotional character if you simplify or remove the ornaments?‘ 



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