“A house is a machine for living in.” – Le Corbusier, Swiss architect
Notions of efficiency as related to architecture emerged in response to the economic and industrial pressures of modernization in numerous cities around the world by the late 19th century. Efficiency may refer to a building’s functionality, a certain degree of spatial flexibility, as well as economy with respect to architectural ornamentation or energy use.
Efficiency in Modern Architecture and Urbanism
In the 20th century, efficiency became a critical means through which the incorporation of specific industrial technologies, practices, and aesthetics into modern architecture could be justified. As a desired element in modern architecture as well as urban design, efficiency related to ideas about flexibility, mobility, as well as rationality. Efficiency also became seen as an important guiding force in the planning of new cities based upon specific zoning principles.
Efficiency, Modern Architecture, and Hong Kong
Efficiency has played an important role in Hong Kong’s modern architectural history. Over the course of the early to mid-20th century, buildings of a particular public significance, including markets and public toilets, all incorporated a certain modern aesthetic intended do convey the government’s resourcefulness as well as concern for public health. Residential and commercial architectural development within the city, too, has also been significantly influenced by ideas of efficiency with respect to the amount of space used, the incorporation of different functions within a building, and the relationship between a building and its urban context.