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Modern Architecture – 8 Important Astonishing Phases You Must Know

Modern architecture is a diverse and evolving movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a response to changing technological, social, and cultural contexts. It focuses on simplicity, minimalism, and a rejection of ornament.

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier(French architect), and Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, were the founders of Modernism.

On the Contrary to traditional architecture, the modern style embraces new materials, construction technology, and functional approaches. Architects went beyond conventional architecture such as using abstraction ( breaking nature into simplified patterns and forms) asymmetry in designs, and purity in form, materials, and color.

Also, the designers of Modern architecture concentrated on the functionality of buildings. Discovery of new materials and construction technologies led to innovative designs, open-plan interiors, taller buildings as well as multi-functional structures.

Characteristics of Modern Architecture

  • Asymmetry in building
  • Purity of form and simple geometries (Geometric pure forms – triangle, circle, square, cylinder, etc.)
  • Abstraction/Abstract art (Breaking nature into simplistic patterns and forms)
  • New materials like glass, steel, concrete
  • Minimal color Palette
  • Emphasis on Function
  • Open-plan Interiors

8 Important Phases of Modern Architecture

Modern architecture can be divided into several phases, each characterized by its distinct concepts, ideologies, and features. Here’s a brief overview of 8 important phases of Modern Architecture:

  1. Organic Architecture
  2. Functionalism
    • Bauhaus Movement/School
    • Chicago School
  3. Expressionism
  4. Art Deco: https://thearchspace.com/art-deco-architecture-a-modern-style-of-visual-arts/
  5. Internationalism
  6. Monolithic Style
  7. Brutalism
  8. Metabolism

I. Organic Architecture

Organic architecture emerged in the early 20th century. Also well known as the earliest phase of modern architecture, it emphasizes creating a harmonious relationship between the building and the natural surroundings. Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright were associated with this nature-inspired style.

Architectural Features

  • Horizontal lines
  • Low Pitched roofs
  • Flat cantilever overhangs
  • Rows of windows for horizontal emphasis
  • Natural materials

A Typical Example of Organic Architecture – Falling water

Modern Architecture
Image source: franklloydwright.org

Faaallingwater stands as one of Wright’s greatest masterpieces both for its dynamism and for its integration with its striking natural surroundings. The design perfectly merges the building, living, and nature along with its pure geometry with cantilevering terraces, creating a strong emphasis and harmony between man and nature.

The concept of alternate solids and voids(stones and water) is reflected and continued in the form of the design of the house by the alternate extended terraces and glass.

Prairie Architecture

Prairie Style architecture, pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a distinctive design movement that stands as a testament to innovation and integration with nature. This architectural style emphasizes horizontality, characterized by low, flat roofs with generous overhanging eaves that echo the expansive landscapes of the American Midwest.

Get a detailed guide with 10 examples of Prairie architecture here: https://thearchspace.com/prairie-style-architecture-the-best-way-to-blend-nature-and-design/

Architectural Features

  • Horizontal lines
  • Low Pitched roofs
  • Flat cantilever overhangs
  • Rows of windows for horizontal emphasis
  • Natural materials

A Typical Example of Organic Architecture – Robbie House

robie house.jpg for sck
Robie House

The exterior comprises intricately intertwined rectangular masses. Bands of brick and mortar secure the building to the ground while an overhang roof shelters the building with its residents. To connect the exterior and interior seemingly; and to provide privacy, a dramatic twenty-foot cantilevered roof provides shades to the ribbon glass window below. The colors of brick, limestone, and plaster; all hues remind the colors of the prairie land.

II. Functionalism

Bauhaus Movement

Architectural Features

  • Simplified forms
  • Pure function
  • Urban and Industrial Context
  • Prefabrication
  • Standardization of materials and mass production

A Typical Example of Bauhaus Movement – Bauhaus Building

Image source: bauhaus-dessau.de

The structure is organized in three different wings arranged in a pin-wheel form asymmetrically that connects workshops and dormitories within the school. The functions of the school building have been emphasized in the pure geometrical form of the structure. The design expresses that both the functional approach and asymmetrical form combine beauty and function in an eloquent way. It also represents the emerging relationship between the industrial revolution and the arts.

Steel and concrete were used as structural elements whereas the large curtain wall in the façade provides ample light and exterior views. Pure colors of white, grey, black, yellow, and blue were used.

Chicago School

Chicago school-style architecture flourished between 1880-90. It is also known as the commercial style. This style has an influence from Classical Greek Architecture. Often linked with architects like Louis Sullivan and Daniel Burnham, this style emphasizes functional design, clean lines, and large windows. Also, it introduced steel-frame construction, allowing for taller and more open buildings.

Architectural Features

  • Promote new technologies in steel frame construction.
  • Associated with multi-storied commercial buildings.
  • Vertical building Masses
  • Cuboidal forms
  • Classically derived decoration
  • Stone façade/cladding/Terracotta cladding

A Typical Example – Chicago School

330px 2010 03 03 1856x2784 chicago chicago building
Chicago building; Image source: wikipedia.org

Large Chicago windows, distinctive horizontal windows and window bays, metal frame construction, and terracotta cladding are the main features of this modern architectural style of Chicago school. The division of horizontal lines in building mass creates an illusion that reduces the verticality of the building. The design elements such as cornices and their treatments were influenced by classical Greek Architecture.

III. Expressionism

Expressionism in modern architecture was born to design that evokes emotion. It was predominant in Europe during the first decades of the 21st century. It was a conception of architecture as a work of art. With its exceptional features such as distorted forms, unconventional materials, and sculptural elements, it expresses a distinct emotion and conveys a sense of inner experience.

Architectural Features

  • Free-flowing organic forms
  • Non-geometry
  • Mixture of colors
  • Expression of artists by artwork
  • Mixture of colors
  • Monolithic material choices

A Typical Example of Expressionism – Einstein Observatory Tower

Einstein Observatory Tower; Image source: architecture-history.org

The design of the structure reflects Einstein’s groundbreaking theories. The building is designed as a research facility that focuses on the theory of relativity. Mendelsohn depicted that the form evolved from the “mystique around Einstein’s universe”. The building form curves and bends (twists and turns), as if rising from the landscape. Windows appear to be carved from the surface.

IV. Art Deco – A Modern Style of Visual Arts

Art Deco Architecture (1920-1930) is influenced by the Art Nouveau movement. It encompasses all types of arts, architecture, design, and visual arts, as well as furniture and other accessories. Also, it combines hand-crafted traditional crafts with machine-made products. While it carries Egyptian influences, it also takes inspiration from different architectural styles, and from both nature as well as abstract patterns. Art Deco emphasizes geometric forms – squares, rectangles, polygons, spheres as well as trapezoids and zig-zags. New materials and the requirement of mass production, the embrace of new technology are the significant attributes of this style.

Architectural Features

  • Geometric Patterns, Sunburst Patterns
  • Rectilinear lines
  • Curved Building forms
  • Rare and expensive materials such as ebony and ivory
  • Exquisite Craftsmanship, Detailed craftsmanship
  • Glamour and Luxury
  • Reinterpretation of classical elements
  • low relief sculptural ornamentation

A Typical Example of Art Deco Architecture – Chrysler Building

Chrysler building - Modern architecture
Chrysler Building; Image source: en.wikipedia.org

The building’s crown and spire, designed in the Art Deco style, extend into the clouds and celebrate the hour of the machine age. They are clad in stainless steel and constructed with seven radiating terraced arches. Triangular windows are arranged in an array in U-shaped arches depicting sunburst patterns. It gives the appearance of a Ziggurat on one side and a U-shaped palazzo on another side.

V. Internationalism

The International Style emphasized functionalism, simplicity, and the use of industrial materials such as glass, steel, and concrete. This phase prioritized open spaces, flat roofs, and the absence of ornamentation.

Architectural Features

  • Free plans
  • Rectilinear forms
  • Interlocking spaces
  • The emphasis on volume over mass
  • Universality
  • Light-weight materials
  • Mass production of Industrial materials – Steel, concrete, and glass
  • Dematerialization
  • Piloti or Piers ( Stilted structures)
  • Lack of ornamentation and color
  • Repetitive modular forms
  • Flat surfaces

A Typical Example of International Style Architecture – Villa Savoye

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Villa Savoye; Image source: flickr.com

Villa Savoye is one of the finest and most renowned examples of International style in which Le Corbusier excels in his design with his “five points.” The five points include:

  • Pilotis – elevating the building from the earth
  • Free ground floor – ground floor for parking and greenery
  • Free façade – separation of load-bearing columns from the walls
  • Ribbon window – Long horizontal windows for ventilation
  • Terrace garden – Roof serving as a garden

VI. Monolithic Style

The monolithic style is an extension of the International style where the form is given prominence and emphasis in this style. The structures vary in different forms such as cuboidal, twin cuboidal, circular, grape-bunch (Repetitive of a single form), and Metastasis.

Architectural Features

  • Monolithic – one and unified geometric form
  • The form is given emphasis than the function
  • Buildings are categorized into clusters

A Typical Example of Monolithic Style Architecture – Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Image source: wikipedia.org

The structure is a box-like form with extensions and cantilevers – the features adhering to the International style. The landscape elements are also designed using geometrical forms that blend with the visual language of the building.

VII. Brutalism

Brutalism emerged in the mid-20th century and is known for its use of raw concrete and bold, sculptural forms. This style of modern architecture often exposed the construction methods and celebrated the honesty of materials. It can evoke a sense of monumentality and solidity.

Architectural Features

  • Raw concrete facades
  • Poured-in-place concrete
  • Monolithic forms
  • Load bearing columns
  • Repetitive elements

VIII. Metabolism

Metabolism emerged in Japan during the 1960s and emphasized adaptable and organic design in response to rapid urban growth. The movement envisioned buildings and cities as dynamic, evolving organisms, with structures that could change and adapt over time.

Architectural Features

  • Modularity
  • Monumentality
  • Adheres to Japanese traditional values
  • Designed for future change

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