If you have been following our architectural blog series: Congrats, we have finally made it to the modern architectural movements!


Before now, most of the styles we have looked at have their roots in classical architecture. However, the modern movements reject those influences and the ornamentation, forms, materiality, and often oppressive features that came with them. Using the newest materials available and ideals like form follows function, less is more, and open plan interiors, modernist styles strived to reimagine how people interacted with architecture and each other.  

What time is it anyway?

Have you ever heard the term “modernism” or “modernist” thrown around about designs produced today? I know I have, and it confuses me a little each time because the modernist movement really began to gain steam around the 1920s. Claims could be made for earlier dates based on architect’s desire to use new technologies and materials to their best advantage but the style became a unified whole around the 1920s. The bulk of the style went out of fashion by about the 1960s, but as with every style, there is some overlap and American architects, in particular, seemed to truly love the modernist movement, designing in this style well into the 1980s. 

collage of modern architecture
Clockwise from Top Left: Villa Savoye in the International Style by Le Corbusier (Rory Hyde, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Barcelona Pavillion in the Minimalist Style by Mies van der Rohe (Ashley Pomeroy at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Rietveld Schroder House in the De Stijl Style by Gerrit Rietveld (Basvb, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons); Nagakin Capsule Tower in the Metabolism Style by Kisho Kurokawa (scarletgreen, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Dessau Bauhaus in the Bauhaus Style by Walter Gropius (Aufbacksalami, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Prentice Women’s Hospital in the Brutalist Style by Bertand Goldberg (AkatherineGu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It's raining styles. 

Modernism as a movement was different from previous styles as it represented many styles within it, and those styles can be radically different from one another. Trying to lump all modernist styles together would be like referring to a building only as “classical” in nature, but then no one would know if you meant ancient Greek, Renaissance, Georgian, Victorian, or any of the other styles we have looked at up until this point. The modernist movement had a core set of interests that architects of the time were investigating with their work, but each style under the modernist umbrella was unique to itself.  

International craze.

One of the best known modernist styles is the International Style. 

Spearheaded by architects such as Philip Johnson, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, the International style showed up across the globe and quickly lived up to its name. Simple geometries, repetitive and modular forms, flat facades, and an enthusiastic use of ribbon windows defined the style. 

international examples of modern architecture
Clockwise from Top Left: Unité d’habitation by Le Corbusier (Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Lovell House by Richard Neutra (Los Angeles, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Gropius House by Walter Gropius (Daderot at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons); Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau by Le Corbusier (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons); Paimio Sanatorium by Alvar Aalto (Leon Liao from Barcelona, España, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons); S.R. Crown Hall by Mies van der Rohe (Arturo Duarte Jr., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It's funny to think that "modernism" has been around for nearly 100 years when we don't think of most things that old as modern. This style hasn't been around nearly as long as classical, but it's passing the test of time.

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