Architecture throughout history has been used for a variety of functional purposes and has aided in shaping space, creating beauty and symbolizing ideas from around the world. One of the many functions that architecture serves is commercial; the first example is in fact, a functional blend of commercial, transportation, and public usages: the Roman aqueduct. The Roman aqueduct, or to be more specific, the Pont du Gard (located in France), is a perfect example of an architectural structure that serves commercial needs as it brings huge amounts of water from the country to a metropolitan area. Therefore, the aqueduct serves the public in having water transported to them, thus fulfilling three purposes.
Going into more detail, the aqueduct is built in the style of a rounded arch and can be viewed as historically symbolic if considering the legacy of the Greeks, whom the Romans (who at one point conquered France) have drawn inspiration from to build the aqueduct. The form follows its function as the levels of the aqueduct carry water in a bridge-like fashion; the rounded arches are there for weight support. The materials used often include stone, brick and / or concrete, most obviously for strength and durability purposes. The function of ornament here is perhaps the arches as they add a repetitive pattern, which gives the aqueduct its signature look. An aqueduct’s relationship to its environment is fitting as it continues the flow of water from the nature to a city while not significantly altering the landscape in a negative manner (unlike man-made deltas to an extent).
Moving further ahead into the Gothic era, another use of architecture was highlighted in the religious scene: the cathedral. A notable example of this is Notre Dame in Paris. The style of the building is Medieval German (Gothic) and incorporates pointed arches and vaults. The building is symbolic for its towering height and elegant look which were and still are befitting to that of a place of prominent worship and respect. The form of the building most certainly follows function as its size can hold large numbers of people for activities including Mass. The materials used for the construction of Notre Dame include stone, plates and glass for the walls, roof and windows respectively.
These materials were chosen in part for strength and also for aesthetics, especially since the glass and plates make for a beautiful color contrast and a nice geometric presentation. The ornament of function of the building is its pointed arches and flying buttresses which serve both function (enables stronger built quality) and design (provides a distinct look). Lastly, the building’s relationship with the environment feels natural as it is located in Paris, which is renowned for its many visually pleasing and antiquated structures while the building’s surrounding landscape fits well with the temperate setting (where in no doubt that some of the building materials are native to this region).
One last architectural use pertains to the visual look of a residential building. One noteworthy example is the Villa Rotonda in Italy. Constructed in the Renaissance era, the villa is meant to be a place of habitation but its outside look may deceive one to think of anything but. The style of the building is a blend of Greek and Roman designs and it is symbolic because it incorporates statues and columns respectively as a callback to the past. The form of the building follows its function perfectly as the size of the villa and its extra features like the patio can accommodate large numbers of visitors and occupants. The materials used for the building include coated brick, stone and frames, the former two which are most prominently utilized for molding columns, statues and the upper dome.
The villa’s function of ornament is its columns and dome adopted from the Greeks and the Romans which serve to support weight and provide ceiling cover functionally while showing off a classic exterior design architecturally. The building’s relationship with the environment can be characterized as one that matches perfectly with the location; the Mediterranean climate and vegetation often associated with villas appropriately harken back to the Roman-Greek roots of the building with respect being typically built in warm and sunny settings.