What do you know about modern architecture? what is the difference between modern and contemporary architecture?

Villa Savoye – France

Modern architecture is a style of construction that emphasizes form rather than ornamentation. In other words, this design aesthetic stands out against more whimsical and decorated homes like the Queen Anne style or Gothic Revival. Instead, the architects chose the structure and materials because they were practical and efficient.

The rise of modern architecture came when handwork was changed by the mechanical industry. The way of building is reinvented by many modern architects to work more on the way of living in the building rather than the artistic side. This architecture doesn’t tell stories and concepts, it’s not full of fantasy and emotion. Instead, it’s innovative, experimental, and minimal.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Modern architecture has existed for a long-term and it contains many concepts that have influenced the world for 60 years. This way, it can be difficult to locate an exact starting point. For some, the style includes more transitional architecture like the Art Deco and Arts and Crafts movements. For others, these earlier styles served as inspiration for more “pure” modern architects of the mid-century.

The birth of modern design came with the idea that form should follow function. This idea began with architect Louis Sullivan who designed buildings for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. This mantra has become the foundation of modern architects. Many architects adopted the modern design like Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Staatliches Bauhaus.

This design aesthetic came after an architectural exhibition by Philip Johnson in 1932. The best-known examples of modern architecture end around the middle of the 20th century, but the design style still influenced buildings until the end of the 20th century.

Fallingwater House – Frank Lloyd Wright

In modern architecture, there are many styles and concepts, they are defined by many characteristics. These are some of the more common and broad key features that can be seen in many different forms:

  • Asymmetrical designs. Modern architects have played with large, smooth shapes and asymmetrical compositions that are well planed and without additional decoration.
  • Modern and traditional building materials. Like concrete, iron, glass and steel in many modern homes. More conventional building materials like wood, brick and stone have been used in a simpler way to show off their natural beauty.
  • A relationship with the external environment. Reflection on construction sites and how buildings relate to the natural landscape that surrounds it.
  • Open and well-defined floor plans. Many architects in the modern architecture are trying to obey the quotes that says form follows function, that’s why architects designs plans with large and open space that contains several units, like living and dining spaces and kitchen and more other spaces to make a link with each other.
Radieuse city by Le Corbusier – Marseille

After the war, the French government asked the swiss-french architect Le Corbusier to design a new building in Marseille.

He calls it Housing Unit, but the construction more popularly takes the name of Cité Radieuse, after his book on futuristic town planning. According to the concept and design, the construction had a concrete structure above the street on columns. It contained 337 duplex apartments, inserted into the frame like puzzle pieces. Each unit of the cité radieuse had two levels and one terrace.

Radieuse city by Le Corbusier – Marseille
Duplex apartment in cité radieuse by Le Corbusier – Marseille

In the middle level of the building, you find a passageway look like a street inside a building, this passageway or corridor have multi-service spaces like nursery school, shops and many other services.

Inside the radieuse cité – corridor with multiple services

When we see the interior design, we realize how the architect wants to link the decoration and the furniture to the building and its design and function, that’s why Le Corbusier designed lamps, rugs, and furniture by himself.

Housing Unit has become a prototype of similar buildings in other cities, France and Germany. Combined with his equally radical organic design for the Notre-Dame du-Haut Chapel in Ronchamp, this work propels Corbusier to the forefront of modern post-war architects.

The most common theme is the elimination of ornamentation: the older styles of modern architecture still had some ornamental utility. For example, Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated art glass windows so that no additional artwork was needed. Beyond that, modern architecture is primarily analytical.

Modern architecture is different from contemporary architecture: for some people, modern and contemporary architecture are the same thing. However, modern architecture was inspired by art movement known as Modernism and lasted until 1960. Contemporary architecture incorporates architecture after the 1960s and until today. In short, contemporary architecture reflects the styles of this current moment, which happen to be very diverse.

Modern homes were revolutionary, they embraced the concept of fluid and open space. Ideology has also rejected clutter and excess goods. However, during the design period, many architects questioned this strict notion of space. This evolution brought about more contemporary designs that worked to incorporate ornamentation and color. In contemporary homes, you can have an open floor plan but also have an element of privacy.

In conclusion, in the early 20th century the modern architecture began to rise and prevail to the world and in the sixties of the 20th century started to fades away when the contemporary designs started to appear.

The fundamentals of modern architecture include a form-tracking feature, clean lines, and a lack of ornamentation. Eventually, modern principles became too cold for everyday life due to excess space and the austere nature of the building materials.