Saturday, February 5, 2011

Function is Form

You know you have achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupery

This photo was taken in a snowstorm in Leland, MI, about 2 miles from the Lake Michigan shoreline. The simple barn in the foreground is a striking example of the design principle that form must follow function. In an age where architecture is informed more by whim than by intention, it's useful to remind ourselves where style originates.

The picturesque lines of this structure, so often copied in later architecture, derive from its purpose as housing for livestock and storage for feed. The gambrel roof, seen here from the side, was pioneered to permit more space for hay to be stacked in the upper floors. The understated, small windows allow ventilation while preventing too much heat loss in the winter season.

How refreshing to come upon a building that is nothing more and nothing less than it needs to be. Design is at its most honest when it serves its purpose directly and efficiently, and this photograph bears witness to this principle.