Conceptual Limits of Form in Architecture

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D. candidate in Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran. Lecturer of Department of Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Saba Art and Architecture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran.

2 Professor of Department of History of Architecture and Heritage, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.


Problem statement: Form is a fundamental concept in the discourse of architecture that has been affected by the evolutions of architectural thinking. The non-systematic accumulation of form concepts results in ambiguity in contemporary discourse. On the other side, disregarding the dynamic nature of form, and poor identification of the factors influencing its evolution, and its application domains have made form a frozen concept and have reduced its effectiveness in responding to today’s architectural issues.
Research objectives: this paper concentrates on clarifying and organizing the diverse concepts of the form. Besides a theoretical framework is provided to guarantee the conceptual dynamism of the form.
Research method: Present research is conducted based on Foucault’s genealogy approach. First, the original conditions of the first appearance of form in philosophical thinking are examined, then based on the results obtained, is referred to revolutionary theories of architecture. The fundamental evolutions of the concept of the form will be analyzed, and finally, a critique of today’s form status is provided.
Conclusion: According to the findings, the evolution of the concept of form is originated from the evolutions of philosophical knowledge of architecture from at least three perspectives: ontology, aesthetics, and epistemology. Among these factors, epistemological approaches have made the most substantial contribution to the evolutions of form, from pre-modern to the contemporary era. The evolution of philosophical knowledge of architecture has led to the formation of six conceptual limits of form, including appearance, idea, type, structure, meaning, and affordance. Each of these concepts has limited the architecture to specific aspects; however, introducing the concept of “form field” helps to gain a comprehensive understanding of architecture while providing a framework for organizing the form concepts. It also ensures the dynamics of this concept in line with the evolutions of philosophical knowledge of architecture.


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