Years ago I listened to Sáenz de Oíza to speak against the excessively functional design, and it put a very convincing example. He spoke that the functional kitchen of the Bauhaus had all the necessary elements foreseen exhaustively, up to the last detail, and all this perfectly modulated and optimized.
It was a marvel that in the twenties, while the house of his grandmother in Cáseda, Navarre, had neither current water nor electricity, the kitchen of the Bauhaus had washer, oven, dishwasher … and all the technological advances.
But … they were all the technological advances of the twenties.
If then some new domestic appliance was invented it was not fitting in this so designed, so closed kitchen. If the washers were changing system of functioning, or model, already they were not fitting in this kitchen that had foreseen all the captures, all the hollows, all the behaviors.
We go, that with that it was changing the tension of supply of 125 V to 220 V, practically was necessary to throw the house and turn it to constructing.
Everything was so cerradamente organized that was not allowing any improvisation, any introduction of not foreseen elements.
Whereas the house of his grandmother had a kitchen that was consisting of a good fire, a battery, a great table and a few walls of stone.
Since the house of his grandmother had neither water nor electricity, when it came the one established herself normally, as if such a thing; and when other one, the same thing came.
And, for the same reason, at any one time a refrigerator could install to him, and a washer, and a tumble dryer, and what was needing. Even, come the case, an oven microwave and a plate vitrocerámica or of induction; these devices that are not possible in the moduladísima kitchen of the Bauhaus.
Because the kitchen of his grandmother was a mere container opened, indefinite, adaptable, that was allowing to assume what was coming.
The functional design in architecture often consists of not designing anything specially and of allowing that the people should be using it and adapting it. It is to say:
“he design consists of not hindering”.
I am funcionalista to being furious, but I think that this consideration is necessary. It is necessary to think about her often.
In any case, I take refuge in Walt Whitman’s wise words:
“Do I contradict myself? Well then, yes, I contradict myself. In me multitudes dwell”.
José Ramón Hernández Correa
PhD ARchitect and author of Arquitectamos locos?
Toledo · december 2011