Paul Rudolph: The Six Determinants of Architectural Form

Paul Rudolph introduces the Theory of The Six Determinants of Architectural Form. He claims that all six determinants vary in relative importance with respect to individual problems.

  • Relationship to other buildings and the site:  for a building to be acknowledged it must truly blend in and relate to its neighbouring surroundings in terms of scale proportions and space between the buildings.
  • Functional aspect: the principle that a building should be designed keeping the function and purpose of the building in mind. Form must follow function.
  • The environmental conditions: while planning a building the climate, landscape and natural lighting conditions of the region must be examined and incorporated into the design solution as much as possible.
  • Materials: each material has its own inherent properties and should be used for buildings that need to integrate the same properties based on the function of the building.
  • Psychological demand of space: such requirements are met through the manipulation of space and the use of symbols.
  • Spirit of the time: this is the last and the most important determinant as this shall lead us towards richer architectural expression.

Having stated the six determinants, Rudolph goes on to state that most architects need guidelines to follow so as to maintain a discipline in the built form that is being produced. He concludes the article by leaving an open ended question, “Modern architects fought hard against the restraints of the outworn styles; the day is won; but the visual disorder of our cities still abounds. Can we enlarge our vision sufficiently to meet the challenge? “

1)      Rudolph states: “when architects depend on their sensibility and imagination architecture has always gone downhill” would that hold true for the Modern Movement?


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