Architecture has had numerous movements throughout our time, each one explained through different characteristics.
A very popular architecture trend revolves around the movement of modern architecture. At the core of it, this movement embraces minimalism and principle-based designs that were super popular between the 30s and the 70s.
Most of the buildings that used modern architecture were corporate, government, and institutional establishments. But what really is modern architecture? What are its characteristics and why is it effective? In this article, we are going to provide an answer to all of these questions so let’s begin.
1. Futurism Embraced
The main characteristic of this movement is that it completely rejects history as an influence. There have been several prominent movements prior to the emergence of modern architecture, which firstly starter in the 20s.
Some of the more popular ones were Neo-Gothic, Victorian, and Edwardian movements. If we know anything about these movements is that they’re a couple of thousands of years old.
Modern architecture isn’t based on any of these and rejects all of their influences. Being a movement based on the core principles of modernism, this movement has nothing in common with classical architecture where Neo-Gothic, Victorian, and Edwardian movements are loosely based on.
2. Different Materials
One can separate different architectural styles if they would to take a look at the materials used to construct each building. Prior to the emergence of modernism as a core movement, buildings were constructed mainly from concrete. These looked very bulky and some were very dull.
And while the Victorian Era has provided humanity with some of the most magnificent architecture, creativity through different materials is one of the core characteristics of modernism.
One of the first and most impactful buildings constructed under modern architecture is The Crystal Palace in London. This building was constructed mainly by using iron and glass. The glass was modified in a way so they’d resemble large crystals.
And while this building might not impress you, back in 1851 it was truly breathtaking and amazing.
3. Logic, not Expression
Different movements throughout the ages have been used for artists to express themselves artistically. Look at some of the masterpieces constructed in the mid-ages, the paintings painted, the statues erected, and the churches built.
This was all possible because these movements require the artists to express themselves through the movement itself. In modernism, artistic expression is replaced by logic, critical thinking, rational expression, and the application of universal principles that promote functionality.
This is quite possibly the single most important principle that defines this movement. It is called “Form Follows Function” and you should know that it’s driven by functionality, as opposed to artistic expression.
That’s not to say that an artist cannot express themselves through modernism, but a core value should be functional as opposed to expression.
We touched briefly on minimalism, but do we even know what that is? Minimalism, as the name suggests, is an ideology that everything should be kept to a minimum in terms of details.
It is probably the only core value that everyone that considers themselves a designer has to have in mind in 2023.
Minimalism in modern architecture is pursued with such vigor and zeal that we cannot describe enough how important it is. If your work doesn’t fall into the minimalistic category, regardless of what your work might be, then it cannot be used in the same context as modern art and architecture.
Minimalism is present across every branch in our society that creates and designs. It is present in art, in architecture, in music, in design & web design, and across many others.
Simply said, removing things and keeping your work with the least amount of detail is considered a virtue in minimalism, according to M Majed Veysel, Architect & Designer.
5. Geometrical Forms
Whatever you look at you can look at it through the lens of geometry. If you look at a house, for example, you can see the shapes that it’s made of. You can see rectangles, squares, triangles, and many others.
But in modern architecture, it’s not about having an abundance of diversity in geometrical shapes, it’s about finding the ones that are the most functional.
If we take a look back to the core principles of modern architecture and the “Form Follows Function”, then we can safely assume this to be true.
It is true, as it stands, but what are the dominant shapes in this movement? Rectangles tend to be the most popular ones, and they’re used far more than any other geometrical shape. Circles are essentially none existent, while triangles and squares do have some usage. But rectilinear forms are the most popular of this movement.
6. Rejection of Details
We discussed earlier that minimalism is met with ferocious zeal when it comes to modernism.
Minimalism rejects all ornaments, details, and decorations that can be used with your designs. An architect rejects all details, ornaments, and decorations that would otherwise hinder their designs due to the fact that it would quickly go out of style.
Modernism rejects attention to detail because details rarely serve a function. Details are used to enhance a design, not be the focal point. When this is the case, we can safely assume that the “Form Follows Function” principle has rarely any place for details, ornaments, or decorations.
Ever since the emergence of this movement, we have seen details used to some degree. This was mostly the case in the 20ss and 30s where architects still didn’t perfect modernism the way it’s perfected now.
As the years went on and the core values were established, details have been used far less frequently. While some details are still important so that designs don’t look sterile, they’re far less the case as modern architecture took on a more rigid form.
These are some of the characteristics of this movement, and quite possibly the most important ones that need to be taken into consideration.
And while there is still much to discuss when discussing this movement, these remain the most important ones that followers of the movement have to abide by.