Archive for the ‘ History Of Modern Architecture ’ Category

History of modern Architecture

Modern architecture is characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. The first variants were conceived early in the 20th century. Modern architecture was adopted by many influential architects and architectural educators, however very few “Modern buildings” were built in the first half of the century. It gained popularity after the Second World War and became the dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings for three decades.

The exact characteristics and origins of Modern architecture are still open to interpretation and debate.


Some historians see the evolution of Modern architecture as a social matter, closely tied to the project of Modernity and thus the Enlightenment. The Modern style developed, in their opinion, as a result of social and political revolutions.

Others see Modern architecture as primarily driven by technological and engineering developments, and it is true that the availability of new building materials such as ironsteel, and glass drove the invention of new building techniques as part of the Industrial Revolution. In 1796, Shrewsbury mill owner Charles Bage first used his ‘fireproof‘ design, which relied on cast iron and brick with flag stone floors. Such construction greatly strengthened the structure of mills, which enabled them to accommodate much bigger machines. Due to poor knowledge of iron’s properties as a construction material, a number of early mills collapsed. It was not until the early 1830s that Eaton Hodgkinson introduced the section beam, leading to widespread use of iron construction, this kind of austere industrial architecture utterly transformed the landscape of northern Britain, leading to the description of places like Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire as “Dark satanic mills”.

The Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton at the Great Exhibition of 1851 was an early example of iron and glass construction; possibly the best example is the development of the tall steel skyscraper in Chicago around 1890 by William Le Baron Jenney and Louis Sullivan. Early structures to employ concrete as the chief means of architectural expression (rather than for purely utilitarian structure) include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, built in 1906 near Chicago, andRudolf Steiner’s Second Goetheanum, built from 1926 near BaselSwitzerland.

Other historians regard Modernism as a matter of taste, a reaction against eclecticism and the lavish stylistic excesses of Victorian Era and Edwardian Art Nouveau. Note that the Russian word for Art Nouveau, “Модерн”, and the Spanish word for Art Nouveau, “Modernismo” are cognates of the English word “Modern” though they carry different meanings.

Whatever the cause, around 1900 a number of architects around the world began developing new architectural solutions to integrate traditional precedents (Gothic, for instance) with new technological possibilities. The work of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago, Victor Horta in Brussels, Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Otto Wagner in Vienna and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, among many others, can be seen as a common struggle between old and new. An early use of the term in print around this time, approaching its later meaning, was in the title of a book by Otto Wagner.[2][3]

A key organization that spans the ideals of the Arts and Crafts and Modernism as it developed in the 1920s was the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) a German association of architects, designers and industrialists. It was founded in 1907 in Munich at the instigation of Hermann Muthesius. Muthesius was the author of a three-volume “The English House” of 1905, a survey of the practical lessons of the English Arts and Crafts movement and a leading political and cultural commentator. The purpose of the Werkbund was to sponsor the attempt to integrate traditional crafts with the techniques of industrial mass production. The organization originally included twelve architects and twelve business firms, but quickly expanded. The architects include Peter BehrensTheodor Fischer (who served as its first president), Josef Hoffmann and Richard Riemerschmid. Joseph August Lux, an Austrian-born critic, helped formulate its agenda.

Modern architecture is usually characterized by:

  • an adoption of the principle that the materials and functional requirements determine the result
  • an adoption of the machine aesthetic
  • an emphasis of horizontal and vertical lines
  • a creation of ornament using the structure and theme of the building, or a rejection of ornamentation.
  • a simplification of form and elimination of “unnecessary detail”
  • an adoption of expressed structure
  • Form follows function

A growing trend in modern architecture is the move towards sustainability of design. Most buildings generate an average of 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot[10]. On a large building, that can add up to over one hundred tons. This has led many architects to develop ways to design structures that inherently have less waste, such as by creating spaces whose dimensions are based on standard material dimensions. Thus, constructors do not have to work the material into the proper shape, which saves both resources and money. In the United States, many new buildings are being designed to LEED standards with “green” details such as photovoltaic panels, green roofs, and natural lighting and ventilation.