Sample Architecture Essay Paper on Theory of Function, Form, and Aesthetics


The architectural field has experienced several revolutions through the centuries. As a result, many theorists have varied views and approaches towards the common words used in architecture. These words include purpose, function, and use. Although the three words may be used interchangeably in other fields, according to architectural theorists they are distinct words with unique meanings. Other important words in the field of architecture are form and beauty. As seen through history, many theorists argue that form follows function while others claim that they are independent. Furthermore, many argue that beauty is functionality because the design focuses on delivering functionality, which in turn leads to the realization of aesthetics. It is also important to acknowledge users because they take a major part in development of the buildings. The various terms used in architecture have different meanings to the various theorists as discussed in this paper.

Hill’s definition of Purpose reflected on the Emirates Towers building

The Emirates Tower building is composed of twin towers that cover 169,000 square meters in Dubai (Poulos & Davids, 2005, p. 716). The location of the building is unique since it is visible from different viewpoints because of it is set aside distinctly from the other standard commercial buildings. Besides the twin towers, it the building has three other important structures. They include the retail podium and the parking areas for the two buildings.

The design of the building has a unique concept as compared to other building around the world. The equilateral triangular cross sections are based on the cultural belief of the Muslims that represents the main heavenly bodies, the sun, the moon, and the earth.

According to Hill, the term purpose is defined as the primary reason as to why a building exists (Hill, 1999, p. 194). It also encompasses the individual sections in the building and the reason they are created. For instance, a building could be designed for business with the individuals offices created to serve different purposes such as consultation offices and electronics repair shop among other.  In the case of the Emirates Towers building, it exists because of two main reasons. Firstly, it serves as an accommodation for the people that work in the offices in the office tower. It is 52-storey building covering approximately 68,500 square meters and regarded, as a good representation of the current market demands (Poulos & Davids, 2005, p. 716). Besides, it facilitates quick access to the various offices because of the 16 passenger elevators that have a fast traveling speed thus enhancing business operations because of the high number of  people accessing the building (Poulos & Davids, 2005, p. 716).

 On the other hand, it accommodates tourists and other guests in the Hotel tower. It is a 31-storey building that is atrium glazed. It covers a large area that can accommodate several people in its 339 luxurious guest rooms with eight elevators serving the various rooms. The elevators are important because they allow clients to access the various rooms in the building efficiently. In addition to the deluxe guest room, it has 9 presidential suites and 52 club executives (Poulos & Davids, 2005, p. 716). Furthermore, the Hotel Towers accommodates people that need conference facilities that are provided in the lower levels of the Hotel tower.

The Emirates Tower building, with its Hotel tower and the Office Towers, is a good representation of the definition of purposes as proposed by Hill. The twin towers provide artificial environments that protect the occupants from adverse weather effects as well as intruders. Therefore, reflecting Hill’s definition of purpose on the Emirates Towers building shows that the structure was created to accommodate the tourists and guests as well as the workers in the various offices in the building.

Hill’s definition of Function based on the Emirates Towers building

Hill defines the term function as the intended outcome of the building (Hill, 1999, p. 200). Basing the definition on the Emirates Towers shows that buildings have distinct functions that may be similar to other buildings depending on the intended function. In the case of the Emirates Towers buildings, the twin towers have different functions that are determined by the occupants of the buildings.

Business people occupy the Office Towers. It offers flexible rooms that require low-maintenance costs thus suitable for the various occupants of the offices. This is because they can quickly change their rooms to accommodate the changing technology needs.  For instance, some parties may decide to set desks to accommodate several computers for public use. Others may opt to have glass partitioned offices in their operations. Besides, the offices 4.5m floor-to-floor height allow the usage of entrance flooring as well as bottomless ceiling void to accommodate I.T equipment’s (Poulos & Davids, 2005, p. 716). Considering the description of the manner in which the offices are designed, the Office Towers can be said to serve certain functions. Firstly, it was created to facilitate business transactions between the various workers in the building. Secondly, it was built to enhance communication between the various occupants of the offices by using new technology.

On the other hand, the Hotel Towers accommodates tourists and other guests with utilize the various equipment such as beds, chairs, and tables thus showing a different purpose. Considering the various services offered in the Hotel Towers, it could be argued that the building has several functions. One of the primary functions of the building is to accommodate the various visitors and enthusiasts by offering beds to them for resting. The accommodations that the guests can enjoy include the 339 luxurious rooms, 52 Club executive rooms, and the nine presidential suites (Poulos & Davids, 2005, p. 716). The other function of the Hotel tower is to connect people with the same objectives. The connection is achieved through the conference facilities that allow business people and visitors to meet the various goals in their lifestyle. Therefore, the main function of the Hotel Towers is to accommodate the guests to the hotel.

Considering the definition of the term function by Hill, it is clear that buildings have different functions. For instance, the Emirate Towers building has two buildings that have various functions. The main reason for the different functions can be attributed to the fact that the occupants of the buildings have different objective and goals. Furthermore, it can be argued that the functions of the structures are determined by design. This is because people tend to go to hotels for resting while offices are visited for work related activities.

Hill’s definition of Use regarding the different individuals who would occupy Emirates Towers

Hill defines use as the constituent parts and activities of the building (Hill, 1999, p. 210). In a detailed approach towards the definition of use, he identifies three distinct areas that make up the definition of the term use. Firstly, he defines the pattern of the human activities as one of the key entities in the definition of the phrase. The acknowledgment of the human activities is critical because people tend to have different activities in the various areas of work or stay. Secondly, Hill identifies the architectural configuration and form as the other element that makes up use. This is also critical because the various building around the world have different architectural configurations and forms hence the different uses. Finally, he identifies the arrangement of the furniture or equipment as the third element that determines the uses of the various buildings. The reason for identifying this element it the fact that people may be presented with same environments by their arrangements can lead to different uses (Damlūjī, 2006, pg 28).

The definition of use as presented by Hill shows that the Emirates Towers building has different uses in the twin towers. The individuals that occupy the Office Towers tend to have a common goal, which is to do business but may have different uses. For instance, it possible to find firms that are print media oriented thus having a significant focus on printing equipment. As a result, the activities of the workers in such offices will be different from that of offices that are I.T. based such as telecommunication business. Furthermore, the various departments have different professionals that always have unique activities controlled by their objectives.

On the other hand, the Hotel Towers also has unique uses. The occupants of the rooms always have unique activities thus making the use of the Hotel Towers different from that of the Office Towers. The main activity of the occupants of the Hotel Towers is relaxation and rest. However, the occupants may have different approaches to their rest in which some may tend to sleep while others may enjoy drinking and dining. Besides, other individuals go to the Hotel Towers to utilize the conference facilities. Therefore, their activities may involve sitting together and using certain equipment such as public address systems and projectors.

Therefore, it is evident that the definition of the term use according to Hill accommodates the various buildings around the world. A good example is the one seen in the occupants of the various buildings in the Emirate Towers buildings. For instance, people with different activities that are business-oriented characterize the Office Towers. On the other hand, the Hotel Towers is composed of luxury-oriented individuals.

Use Emirates Towers as an alternative example of how he explains the Purpose, Function, and Use

The Emirates Towers building can be used as an alternative to Hill’s example of purpose, function, and use in the attempt to explain the meaning of the words. Therefore, in Hill’s approach, the purpose of the Emirate Towers building is to accommodate the interactions of business people and visitors in the well-designed rooms that provide the necessary space for the consumption of the various occupants. The function of the Emirate Towers building is to facilitate business transactions and luxurious relaxation of the various occupants that involves the purpose-driven design of the various rooms and offices. On the other hand, use is composed of three levels that are based on the individual activities as well as the whole area of the Emirate Towers building. Therefore, it involves the activities of the workers as well the occupants of the various rooms in the hotel, the design of the various rooms and offices, and the decorations of the rooms and offices with furniture and equipment.

The three words, purpose, function, and use have significantly affected the aesthetic consequences on the Emirates Towers. Firstly, the purpose of the Emirates Towers is to accommodate the business transactions as well as the luxurious activities of the occupants of the buildings. In the case of the Office Towers, the offices were designed to accommodate the new technology and building services to accommodate the dynamic businesses through time and space. On the other hand, the guest rooms were designed with an atrium in consideration to facilitate the viewing of the Gulf in a dramatic manner. As a result, the design of the building was made in a manner that could enhance the experiences of the various users of the services offered by the building.

The function also played a critical role in determining the aesthetics of the building. The function of the Office Towers was to connect business people while the Hotel Towers’ function is to connect people with same objectives such as meetings and workshops. It also offers accommodation for the visitors who can use the various rooms for sleeping, catching up and other modes of relaxation depending on the space offered. The design of the building focussed on the various functions as well. For instance, the hotels were made in manners that can facilitate relaxation and the experience of luxurious services. According to Pallasmaa, imagination plays a critical role in the experiences of the visitors. This is because the perception of the buildings inspires imaginations that can help people organize equipment and furniture in their rooms (Pallasmaa, 2015, p.18).On the other hand, the offices were designed to allow business people carry out their functions in the manner that can support their activities. Therefore, the aesthetics of the Emirate Towers was also influenced by the function because the various occupants of the building expect different experiences.

Moreover, the use of the Emirates Towers building influenced the design of the towers. The architects considered the various activities that the people will be carrying out in the Emirates Towers building. For instance, the activities of the Office Towers people involve professionalism. As a result, the design of the Office Towers involved making offices that can support professional activities. On the other hand, the designers focused on making rooms that people can use to dine, drink, and sleep to realize luxurious experiences in the towers. Therefore, it could be argued that the three words, purpose, functions, and use were great determinants of the aesthetics of the Emirates Towers building. Furthermore, the various experiences that people have in the twin towers can be attributed to the three words.

Contrast between Hill’s definition and the definitions of Adrian Forty regarding these words

Architecture and design have received significant contributions from other people such as Adrian Forty. According to him, architecture involves the use of space, which is considered as the main ingredients of the architecture.

Hill defines purposes as the essential reason for the existence of a building. On the other hand, Adrian defines purpose by presenting the description of space. He quotes Kant as he describes the meaning of the term purpose by claiming that the individual that will occupy the space determines the purpose of the building. Unlike Hill, Adrian does not focus on the intended purpose of the building but the faculty of the mind that relates the various objects in the space (Forty, 2004).  Therefore, the definitions of the term purpose by the theorists do not have any similarities because Hill’s definition involves physical objects whereas Adrian’s definition involves non-physical objects that are affairs of the mind.

Concerning function, Hill defines the term as the intended outcome of the building. However, this is not the case with Adrian Forty because he views function as the decision of the user of the space. In fact, he quotes several theorists from the past in which they all claim that architectures have a rather different approach towards architecture, which is unambitious and ambiguous in nature (Forty, 2004). In other words, he defines the function as the responsibility of the users of the space. The reason for this argument is that people always have different perspectives concerning the utilization of space as compared to modern architecture. For instance, in many cases people are likely to focus on the organization of furniture in the rooms without paying much attention on the appearance of the building.

Use is also defined differently by Forty and Hill. According to Hill, use is divided into three essential elements. On the other hand, Adrian Forty defines use basing it on the activities of the users only (Forty, 2004). As a result, he defines use as the state of preoccupation. Although this might have some similarities with Hill’s definition that involves the activities of the occupants, it is still different because Hill’s definition is incomplete without the other elements.

From the various definitions of the terms purpose, use, and function by Richard Hill and Adrian Forty, it can be seen that they have some similarities as well as differences. The term purpose, for instance, do not have any similarity because of Hill bases on the existence of the building while Adrian bases his definition on the occupant of the building. However, the term use seems to be having similar meaning since they both describe the utilization of the resource by the occupants regardless of their activities (Damlūjī, 2006, p37).

A contrast between Bernard Tschumi’s and Hill’s definition of Uses.

The various theorists have different ways in which they define the terms used in architecture. For instance, both Hill and Bernard Tschumi define the term use differently. Hill identifies three elements that define the term use. These elements are the activities of the occupants of the building, the programming of the architecture, and the equipment in the buildings. On the other hand, Bernard Tschumi defines use by considering the individuals associated with the building (Tschumi, 1994, p. 76). As such, he defines use as the entrance of an individual into a given space. As such, the manners used to define the term use by the two theorists are different. This is because Hill uses a levelled manner towards the definition of the term while Bernard Tschumi defines the term directly by considering the user only in the definition.

Alternative understandings of aesthetics and forms by other theorists

Different theorists have a varied understanding of aesthetics. According to Hill, Aesthetics are equally important in architecture just like structural and material integrity (Hill, 2003, p. 11). In addition, he claims that the functionality of the buildings is the aesthetics of the same because it dictates how the building will be designed. This is because he believes that buildings are rarely designed based on the functionality.

Greenough and Small, on the other hand, has a unique approach towards aesthetics. According to him, all God’s creatures are made with a purpose and have the principle of perfect beauty (Greenough & Small, 1947, p.99). As such, he believes that architecture should also embrace beauty as it attempts to realize the functionality of the various buildings. Besides, he defines beauty as the promise of function (Greenough & Small, 1947, p. 99). This shows a unique understanding of aesthetics because the beauty of the building defines the design of the building hence the aesthetics of the architectural designs.

Concerning form, Greenough, and Small (1947) view them as dependent to function. In other words, the development of function leads to the creation of form. However, some theorists like Hill have different views. For instance, instead of accepting form to be following function, it is viewed as a form of the formulation (Hill, 2003, p. 53).

The various theorists also have varied views on users. For instance, Hill views users as people who are analyzers of the finished products because they are usually not present during the construction process (Hill, 2003, p. 11). As a result, he claims that architects must be imaginative enough to allow them to identify with the users to create products that will satisfy their needs. Other theorists such as Greenough and Small also view the users as the most important persons in the architecture industry. The reason for this claim is that occupants’ needs must be met in the industry (Greenough & Small, 1947, p.99).

The field of architecture has changed tremendously over time. Many theorists including Richard Hill, Bernard Tschumi, Greenough, and Small among others have unique approaches and definitions of the various terms used in architecture. Although the meanings of the various terms come from different theorists, they have some similarities. For instance, the definition of the word use involves the presence of human beings in the various buildings as presented by Richard Hill and Bernard Tschumi. The Emirate Towers building is a good example of an architectural structure that can be used to explain the meaning if the various terms. For instance, it has two purposes that include the accommodation of business and personal activities. On the other hand, the term function includes the facilitation of the various business and personal activities. In addition, the use of the Emirates Towers building shows how the various occupants of the buildings utilize the facilities. Furthermore, the discussion above has shown that different architectures have varied understandings of aesthetics and forms.


Damlūjī, S. S. (2006). The architecture of the United Arab Emirates.

Forty, A. (2000). Words and buildings. New York: Thames & Hudson.

Geddes, R. (2013). The Legacy of Architecture Is Form. In Fit: An Architect’s Manifesto

Geddes, R. (2013). The Task of Architecture Is Function & Expression. In Fit: An Architect’s Manifesto

Greenough, H. & Small, H. (1947). Form and function: Remarks on art, design, and architecture. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Hill, J. (2003). Actions of architecture. London: Routledge.

Hill, R. (1999). Design and their consequences: Architecture and aesthetics.

Poulos, H. & Davids, A. (2005). Foundation design for the Emirates Twin Towers, Dubai. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 42(3), 716-730.

Tschumi, B. (1994). Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.