Modern architecture is pretty hard to define.
For many people, especially for fans of modern architects, it has become something where you know it when you see it.
It becomes difficult to properly express your appreciation for these modern buildings, especially to people who don’t really understand. What is modern architecture? How do you define it?
What is modern architecture?
Modern architecture describes an architectural movement that originated in Europe. It then spread to other parts of the world during the 20th century and gained popularity after World War II.
The style certainly has regional differences from the distinctive modern Chinese architecture to the equally modern Japanese architecture, but every building in this style shares some common features.
Image source: Daryl Toby – AguaFina Gardens International
Modern architectural features shape the style. First and foremost, the function defines the form. A modern building is above all functional and its shape is derived from what it has to do. The purpose defines every aspect of the building.
For example, the Guggenheim Museum in New York was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to guide people through a flowing, ribbon-like gallery of art galleries and exhibitions. Modern buildings are designed for the natural flow of people through them. They don’t guard people enough to allow them to move as they would naturally want them to.
Modern architectural styles are also simple yet refined. There are no unnecessary decorations on a modern building, no gargoyles or elaborate shapes. The lines are strong and clear, highlighting the true outline of the building rather than burying it in confusing details.
Image source: McInturff Architects
This does not mean that modern buildings are simple rectangles all the time. Some of them use curves and sleek, almost organic shapes, although they are still crispy.
When multiple modern buildings are part of a campus or complex, they are not grouped or crowded. There is no feeling of claustrophobia even if the building or buildings are made of concrete.
Space is an important principle of modern architecture. When the space comes together for pleasure or business, it shouldn’t feel like people are wrapped up like sardines.
Both with and without, modern buildings keep their design minimalist. A modern interior will not have excessive ornamentation or intricate spatial structure. This minimalism is not strong but is meant to be peaceful and calming. Modern buildings strive for a stress-free environment.
Many modern architectural designs have large open spaces where a lot of glass is used for a lighter feel. Exterior windows are usually quite large to let in lots of natural light. Layout and location become even more important in modern architecture as there is little that hides strange or unusual design decisions.
Linear lines create a minimalist appearance while increasing interest. Beams, posts, and stairs add visual interest to these large, open, unadorned spaces.
Despite its sleek lack of complications, modern architecture is still trying to blend in with the great outdoors. Fallingwater, another Frank Lloyd Wright design, illustrates this and is reminiscent of the waterfalls nearby while maintaining clean, modern lines. Many other designs use large glass walls to give the illusion that there is no separation from the external and internal environment.
The type of land the modern building stands on has a huge impact on the design of the building. Even clear, extremely artificial lines should look as if they belong in the area.
Even so, modern buildings still have plenty of room for color and personality. Interesting materials add texture, sometimes in unexpected ways, and the simplicity of the overall design allows art exhibitions and even furniture to really stand out.
Modern residential architecture should nevertheless retain a feeling of warmth, which is often supported by a linear fireplace in collecting areas and the use of warm-tinted wood.
Image source: Proto Homes
Devices are often hidden. Modern kitchen designs often have lots of swing-out shelves and large kitchen appliances come in all sorts of appealing colors to match aesthetically.
Modern refrigerators seldom have magnetic fronts so they don’t get cluttered with random items. Kitchen islands often have hidden nooks and crannies in which large appliances can be kept and stored.
Many modern home designs have very open floor plans that maximize both space and privacy in personal spaces. People have a large, comfortable space to gather, often with large sliding glass doors to a patio or balcony, while the spaces are to the side rather than becoming meeting places.
Newer modern architectural designs have a particular desire to be environmentally conscious. Devices and materials are often designed to be energy-friendly and reduce carbon emissions.
Windows are installed with a view to maximum energy efficiency. As bare as modern residential architecture may be, it is usually technologically advanced and very carefully designed.
Image source: Summit Homes Group
Here is a simple list of modern architectural features to help you understand:
- Simple in form and function
- Simple cladding and wall cladding
- Clean, light-flooded open spaces
- Simple detailing without decoration
- Strategic use of materials for visual interest, texture, and personality
Common materials in modernist architecture
Modern architecture is known for the frequent use of bare concrete. However, steel, glass, and even wood are also used abundantly. The structure of the modern building is almost exposed, so the materials used for the internal construction are also used externally. They should not be plastered or painted over, but rather show a unique stylistic honesty with regard to the nature of the building.
Image source: Maxa design
Natural materials like stone are often left unfinished. Many modern buildings try to use local materials to create a sense of unity with the landscape as well as a desire to be environmentally friendly.
Final thoughts on modern architecture
Modern architecture brings out some cool buildings around the world, from sprawling museums to futuristic skyscrapers and amazing modern homes. Modern architecture offers a quieter environment, free from clutter and fully functional.
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