Buddhist Society of Wonderful Enlightenment Terrace: Observations on Functionalism
Lo, Kevin Kei Fung
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Louis Sullivan’s “form ever follows function” had a profound influence on architecture. Although often confused as synonymous with modernism, functionalism is more closely related to positivism in its bias toward science and its rejection of introspective knowledge. This dismissal of the superfluous (such as aesthetic form or ornamentation) diminished the intuitive “human” in architecture by assuming universal rationality. This thesis re-examines functionalism in a contemporary setting: a vertical Buddhist temple set in between two tenement buildings within a New York City plot. Influenced by the work of Lars Lerup and the early work of Diller and Scofidio, the design explores the poetic tensions and obsessions between the profane world of the inhabitants and the sacred world of the temple through abstraction without any attempt to resolve them.