Modern Architecture is a philosophy of building that started around 1850. Some scholars, however, feel that the philosophy started with the industrial revolution around the 1820s when advances in technology led to materials such as steel, glass, and reinforced concrete became readily available. Modernism started because many architects around the globe felt the need to break away from the Victorian and Neoclassical ways of building which they found impractical.
Louis Sullivan could be the main modernist architect as the originator of the famous quote “form follows function”. However, there were many other architects both in Europe and America that were embracing modernist philosophy. Some of them are Le Corbusier, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright
The Modern Architecture movement grew due to the new materials available, new building methods and the dawn of cities. For example, skyscrapers became possible because steel was a much lighter building material than stone. Additionally, advances in glassmaking for large windows in architectural designs. Because Modernism is not a style but a thought movement, there are many styles that have come and gone that would be classified as modernist. Let’s explore some of the main modernist styles below.
Early Modern Architecture Styles
Expressionism (1920s) and Neo-Expressionism (1950s)
Buildings in this style have a lack of symmetry and distorted shapes as well as heavy utilization of concrete and bricks as building materials. With Neo-Expressionism architects drew their inspiration from surrounding landscapes so buildings evoke a memory of natural elements such as rocks or mountains.
Modern Architecture And Constructivism (1920s)
Constructivism grew from Russia where it merged the socialist political ideology to architecture. The style uses industrially made materials such as glass and steel. Additionally, it adds technological elements such as antennae, projection screens, etc to its designs.
This modern architecture style started after Walter Gropius took up the challenge to rebuild Germany following the crushing first world war. Due to restricted finances, the style was very minimalist: functional without any decorations. The main features of this style are that buildings have flat roofs, neutral colors, open floor plans and functional furniture.
Modern Architecture And Functionalism (1930s)
This was a style that embraced buildings being built to fulfill a purpose. Fancy decorations that served no purpose were avoided in such buildings. Architects following this style believed that a building’s design and the materials used to build it should be determined by the function the building was meant to serve.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is one of the architects behind minimalism and the owner of the phrase “less is more”. Minimalist buildings generally have open floor plans, minimal internal walls and lots of natural lighting. The buildings are free from clutter and have strong lines.
International Style (the 1950s)
The International Style is the architectural symbol of capitalism. Most modern skyscrapers would fall under this style with their huge rectangular facades, flat roofs, and walls built from steel and glass.