The its sometimes contradictory symbolic qualities, can confuse

The idea of architecture as a form of
shelter derives from our desire to label and define particular practices according
to their functionality and purpose. Controversy, however, over the main
functions of architecture, as well as its sometimes contradictory symbolic
qualities, can confuse the boundaries and ideas behind its raison d’être (Venturi in Donszelmann, 2011). Over time, the
purpose of architecture has been questioned and its possibilities have been
developed. This process has resulted in providing architects and artists with a
newfound sense of freedom and flexibility, which continues to be explored. For the
contemporary writer Fritz Neumeyer, the possibilities of architecture continue
to be discovered in the ever-changing presentation of both exterior façades and
interior walls. Artists and architects alike have explored this presentation. In
Neumeyer’s essay Head first through the
wall: an approach to the non-word ‘façade’ (1999), he discusses the ideas
of art historian August Schmarsow (1853-1936). In explaining the function of architecture,
as well as contributing to Neumeyer’s research, Schmarsow consistently described
the most significant physical aspect of architecture as being the walls of a
building. The roof of a building was not important to him when it came to
defining architecture, throwing the most immediately obvious purpose of a
building as a form of shelter out of the
window. Architecture has the strongest ability out of all other practices
to divide space, and this is controlled through its interior walls and exterior
façades. For Schmarsow, this is the most important functional element that architecture
can provide. The resultant sense of privacy and enclosure that it creates is often
taken for granted but is advantageous for the occupier and, in Schmarsow’s
ideology, should be the most celebrated aspect of architecture: ‘He sees
architecture in its useful function as a shaper of space, whose task is to
create limited spaces and relate them to each other and make them available to
people for free movement’ (Neumeyer, 1999, p. 247). Despite these benefits, we must
consider the negative impact created by architecture’s spatial limitations. For
example, a town or city packed full of buildings restricts our movement and
public access, whereas in the open countryside, we are free to travel and move
as we please. Without architecture, we would all exist in one open, infinite
and immeasurable sense of space. Schmarsow defends the spatial limitations that
derive from this, suggesting that it is possible for architecture to adopt the
best of both of these worlds: