Quality is the extent to which a product fulfills the requirements set for it.
‘Functional’ refers to the function or functions performed by something, in this
case a building.
Thus, the functional quality of a building means its ability to fulfill the functions envisaged for it. Van Dale’s Dutch dictionary defines functional[related to the English ‘functional’] as ‘suitable for its purpose’ and mentions functional design as an example. Here the term is mainly used in connection with making possible and providing spatial support for the use envisaged.
Webster’s Dictionary provides a similar definition, defining functional as‘. . . connected with, used to contribute to the development or maintenance of a larger whole, designed or developed chiefly from the point of view of use’.
Thus, functional quality can be defined as the extent to which the building and the constructional means applied make possible and provide a proper level of support for the utility function or the activities envisaged.
The e functionality of a building does, however, also depend on the extent to which its spatial and physical qualities support the other three functions listed by Hillier and Leaman – the climatologic function, the cultural function and the economic function. A climatologically unsatisfactory building is not user-friendly.
A high cultural value can increase a building’s utility value. A building is only functional when resources (ground, construction and materials) are used efficiently and the building is arranged effectively and efficiently. In a wider sense, therefore, the functional quality of a building can be defined as the extent to which it provides a proper level of support to the desired activities, creates a pleasing interior climate, has a positive symbolic or cultural meaning and contributes to a favorable economic return and an optimum price–performance ratio.