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Understanding of “Universal Space” in Architecture


‘There is a kind of architecture which is not formal, decorated ornamented, but which derives its aesthetic from a clear expression of its purpose and component parts, where the demands of function and economy have led to simplicity of form and construction, but where the basic requirements of enclosure and structure are extended by design to create buildings of quality.’

Buildings have a long life; that most of them outlive their original function and must adapt themselves to different uses; and that the only permanent ingredient a building can be expected to possess is beauty.

When we say “Universal” it means the space which has a certain existing function which works well, as well as the new function which space adopt due to its quality also should work as good as the previous one.

Need and Evolution of a Universal Space

The industrial revolution was begun between 1820 to 1840 in most of the parts of the United States and the United Kingdom. At the beginning of 19th-century industrialisation expanded around the world, hence the mass production of steel and steel products increase. Use of steel increased for housing to shelter the workers in the cities. During 1939 to 1945, due to World War II, the housing shortage inflated even more. To transform the dream of an affordable house required for everyone, a lot of architects attempted by exploring new technologies occurred during the industrial revolution, prefabrication and mass production.

After World War II, scarcity of the houses increased and hence demand for the modern house increased radically. It is not obvious to work out individual houses when one is completely unaware of the user of the house. With response to this generic demand, Mies van der Rohe designed the Core House mostly without the constraints of outside interference, including economic ones. This 50 x 50 house emerged from Mies’ interest in a house which is adaptable to different families and places. His idea for this project was to create architecture as background for people, absolute minimum use of elements, and to see how far one could go in a unified space.

The attempt was to create a house, which does not attach a specific client or site to the project. The house’s ‘note of individuality would depend on the specific site’, and that the house was flexible enough to serve ‘not only the changing needs of one family but the different needs of different families’. The freedom for experimentation in this project allowed other unusual features such as great openness both to the exterior and to the interior.

Hence the demand for such spaces which are easily adaptable to different uses at different times and also qualify itself according to different users’ needs. And thus, the whole phenomenon results in the creation of the Universal Space.

Author Prachi Patel