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This is an IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer from March 10th on the topic of whether or not buildings should be built according to their function.

It’s a great question because it is an important debate due to the increasing size and influence of cities.

I guarantee that most people doing this question are getting a 5 for Task Achievement because they do not have a good main idea for why the outward appearances of buildings is important. When I was writing this I thought of a main idea by imagining some different perspectives.

Why would the city government value appearances? The people of the city? The architect?

If you have trouble thinking of ideas, you can read here about some different brainstorming activities like the one above.

Read on for a sample answer from a former examiner, analysis, vocabulary practice and some handwritten notes!

For more, check out our other sample answers here: IELTS Sample Answers.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel for some IELTS Speaking Sample Answers: HowtodoIELTS YouTube.

 

 

Sample Answer

When designing a building, the most important factor is the intended use of the building rather than its outward appearance.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

When it comes to building design, architects often have to make compromises between form and function. Many feel that the purpose of the building should dictate these decisions. I agree that how the building will be used is a key factor, but I think that how it looks is just as important.

Those who argue that a building should be constructed according to its function are mainly thinking about the people who will later use the building. If a building is unable to perform its most basic functions, then it is undoubtedly a failed project. For example, if an architect is building a primary school then they must consider parking areas, how cars will pick up and drop off children, where to put the playground, access for people with disabilities, and that is just the area around the school. A beautiful parking lot that only has room for a handful of cars is useless. Inside the school, they also need  classrooms that are large enough, hallways that do not get easily too crowded, a good number and location of restrooms and many other pragmatic concerns. If the architect is overly focused on how the school looks, then they may sacrifice ease of use and practicality.

However, the look of the building is also important because of the role of art in everyday life. Architecture is often considered one of the original and purest forms of artistic expression. I am reminded of a quote from Pablo Picasso who said ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ Imagine a city filled with ugly, utilitarian structures like many Soviet-era buildings. These buildings will not lift people’s spirits or encourage them to contemplate the intended message. Contrast this with a city where architects have been given free rein to be artists. As long as the buildings are also functional, you will find a city filled with beauty and provocation that enhances life for its inhabitants. The outward appearance does not have to be beautiful, but it has a responsibility to contribute something to enrich the lives of everyday people.

In conclusion, how a building works is equally as important as how that same building looks. Form should not follow function but be fused together in order to add to the aesthetic dimension of a city. It is undoubtedly more challenging, expensive and time-consuming to achieve this kind of balance, but it is also worth the effort.

 

 

Sample Answer Analysis

When it comes to building design, architects often have to make compromises between form and function. Many feel that the purpose of the building should dictate these decisions. I agree that how the building will be used is a key factor, but I think that how it looks is just as important.

  • The first sentence simply restates what the general topic is – the form and function of buildings.

  • The second sentence restates that many feel the function is more important.

  • The third sentence is my objective correct opinion – form and function are equally important.

Those who argue that a building should be constructed according to its function are mainly thinking about the people who will later use the building. If a building is unable to perform its most basic functions, then it is undoubtedly a failed project. For example, if an architect is building a primary school then they must consider parking areas, how cars will pick up and drop off children, where to put the playground, access for people with disabilities, and that is just the area around the school. A beautiful parking lot that only has room for a handful of cars is useless. Inside the school, they also need  classrooms that are large enough, hallways that do not get easily too crowded, a good number and location of restrooms and many other pragmatic concerns. If the architect is overly focused on how the school looks, then they may sacrifice ease of use and practicality.

  • The first sentence is a topic sentence that includes my main idea for the whole paragraph (architects care about how people will use the building). 

  • The second sentence explains my main idea by saying that if a building cannot be used as it was intended, it is a failure. It’s often important to explain your main idea in one sentence.

  • The third sentence gives an example of all the areas that have functional purpose in a primary school.

  • The fourth sentence develops what will happen if the parking lot is too small.

  • The fifth sentence gives more examples of what an architect must consider inside the school.

  • The sixth sentence summarizes that an architect too focused on the look of the school may hurt the functional elements of the school.

However, the look of the building is also important because of the role of art in everyday life. Architecture is often considered one of the original and purest forms of artistic expression. I am reminded of a quote from Pablo Picasso who said ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ Imagine a city filled with ugly, utilitarian structures like many Soviet-era buildings. These buildings will not lift people’s spirits or encourage them to contemplate the intended message. Contrast this with a city where architects have been given free rein to be artists. As long as the buildings are also functional, you will find a city filled with beauty and provocation that enhances life for its inhabitants. The outward appearance does not have to be beautiful, but it has a responsibility to contribute something to enrich the lives of everyday people.

  • The first sentence is a topic sentence that includes my main idea for the whole paragraph (architecture is an important art form and art is important in our daily lives).

  • The second sentence explains my opinion by saying that architecture is a form of art.

  • The third sentence supports my opinion with a quote from Picasso explaining why art is important.

  • The fourth sentence supports my main idea with a hypothetical example of  utilitarian city.

  • The fifth sentence explains how people in this city might feel.

  • The sixth sentence contrasts this with a hypothetical city with nice cities that makes life better.

  • The seventh sentence concludes by saying that art does not have to be beautiful but it should in some way make people’s lives richer.

In conclusion, how a building works is equally as important as how that same building looks. Form should not follow function but be fused together in order to add to the aesthetic dimension of a city. It is undoubtedly more challenging, expensive and time-consuming to achieve this kind of balance, but it is also worth the effort.

  • The first sentence restates my opinion that how a building looks and works are equally important.

  • The second sentence restates the main reason behind my opinion. 

  • The last sentence adds an extra detail that acknowledges this challenge but claims it is worth it.

 

 

Vocabulary Analysis and Practice

I have highlighted some of the key vocabulary from the sample answer.

Before looking at the definition let’s do some practice!

Answer the following questions about everything in bold:

1. What does each one mean?

2. Can you think of another way to say the same thing?

When it comes to building design, architects often have to make compromises between form and function. Many feel that the purpose of the building should dictate these decisions. I agree that how the building will be used is a key factor, but I think that how it looks is just as important.

Those who argue that a building should be constructed according to its function are mainly thinking about the people who will later use the building. If a building is unable to perform its most basic functions, then it is undoubtedly a failed project. For example, if an architect is building a primary school then they must consider parking areas, how cars will pick up and drop off children, where to put the playground, access for people with disabilities, and that is just the area around the school. A beautiful parking lot that only has room for a handful of cars is useless. Inside the school, they also need classrooms that are large enough, hallways that do not get easily too crowded, a good number and location of restrooms and many other pragmatic concerns. If the architect is overly focused on how the school looks, then they may sacrifice ease of use and practicality.

However, the look of the building is also important because of the role of art in everyday life. Architecture is often considered one of the original and purest forms of artistic expression. I am reminded of a quote from Pablo Picasso who said ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ Imagine a city filled with ugly, utilitarian structures like many Soviet-era buildings. These buildings will not lift people’s spirits or encourage them to contemplate the intended message. Contrast this with a city where architects have been given free rein to be artists. As long as the buildings are also functional, you will find a city filled with beauty and provocation that enhances life for its inhabitants. The outward appearance does not have to be beautiful, but it has a responsibility to contribute something to enrich the lives of everyday people.

In conclusion, how a building works is equally as important as how that same building looks. Form should not follow function but be fused together in order to add to the aesthetic dimension of a city. It is undoubtedly more challenging, expensive and time-consuming to achieve this kind of balance, but it is also worth the effort.

Vocabulary Definitions

compromise (v): to make an agreement with each side giving something up and getting something

form and function (n): how something looks and how it works

dictate (v): control / decide for

key factor (n): an important part

mainly thinking (v): most think this way

perform (v): to act or serve a role

most basic function (n): the use most associated with something, its core job

undoubtedly (adv): without a doubt

consider (v): think about

pick up (v): to give someone a ride from somewhere

drop off (v): to drive someone to somewhere

access (v): ability to enter a place

handful (n): some / a few

overly focused (adj): too focused

sacrifice (v/n): get rid of something in order to get something else

ease of use (n): how easy it is to use

role of art (n): what function art serves

often considered (v): many people think this

everyday life (n): daily life

utilitarian (adj): done only to achieve an end, not in-itself

Soviet-era (n/adj): from the time when Russia was the USSR

lift people’s spirits (v): make people happier

contemplate (v): think about

contrast this with (linking phrase): compare with

free rein (n): allowed to do anything

provocation (n): to incite, stimulate or give rise to

enrich (v): to make better, richer, deeper and more fulfilling

fused together (v): joined or combined

aesthetic dimension (n): related to appearances and art

time-consuming (adj): taking a long time

worth the effort (n): a good idea to do it even though it takes time

 

Example Notes

Here are some notes I made about architecture (check out more on our Instagram page)!

 

Architecture Articles

Most Iconic Buildings Around the World

What’s the Use of Beautiful Buildings?

Beautiful Buildings are More Sustainable

Form and Function

4 Beautiful Buildings

Architectural Structures

World’s Most Beautiful Buildings

Architecture Videos

I am an Architect

Form Follows Function

Steve Jobs on Design

10 Great Architectural Cities Around the World

TED Talk: Form Follows Fiction

20 Most Futuristic Buildings

50 Most Amazing Buildings in the World

The 100 Most Famous Buildings in History

 

Now it’s Your Turn! Comment below on our IELTS Sample Answer:

Do you think building should be built just according to their function? Is it important how they look?

 

 


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