Modern Architecture: Short and Practical Guide for Beginners – Part 1

Modern Architecture: Short and Practical Guide for Beginners – Part 1

On our website we have shown several times through concrete examples what contemporary and modern architecture represents and how it influences our modern society. Nevertheless, to this day this important term remains somewhat vague for many. The reason for this are the diverse aspects and manifestations of modern architecture. Modern architecture actually pursues very specific goals: It should provide the right living space for the modern lifestyle. Thanks to modern architecture, our lives should become easier, healthier and more ecological. In line with these goals, modern architecture works according to clear principles. In the following article we answer the following questions as simply and understandably as possible:

  • What are the main principles of modern architecture?
  • What is the difference between the terms “modern and contemporary architecture”?
  • Which styles can be seen as part of modern architecture?
  • Who are the most famous architects of modern architecture?

The modern architecture adapts to the surroundings

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A simple explanation for the term “modern architecture”

The modern architecture, also called modernistic, is determined by the use of innovative and novel technologies. Typical building materials are steel, reinforced concrete and glass. The main principle of modern architecture is: Form comes from function. Furthermore, minimalism is given the highest priority. Modern architecture got its primary role after World War II. At that time it was mainly used for the construction of public buildings. But in the broadest sense, almost all of the important architectural styles since the end of the 19th century can be considered modern.

Minimalism is a main principle of modern construction

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Origins of modern architecture

The modern architectural movement began at the end of the 19th century. This time was dominated by the technical revolution, which brought many innovative materials and construction techniques with it. At that time, the construction industry took a clear distance from traditional architectural styles. The civil engineers were looking for functional and innovative ideas. Flat glass, cast iron and steel made it possible for the building structures to become taller and lighter. At that time the first skyscrapers were being built in the USA. They were intended as a solution to the tight living space in cities. The fireproof steel frame construction and the modern elevators, which were invented by Elisha Otis, date from this time.

Module panels are common

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Concrete architectural examples from the first stage of modern construction are the ten-story skyscraper by William Le Baron Jenney from 1883, as well as the monumental building in Chicago by Luis Sullivan from 1905. This is particularly valuable because of the fusion of different architectural styles such as neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance and Beaux-Arts architecture. Another emblematic skyscraper dates from 1912. This is the Doro Woolworth Building, built by Cass Gilbert. This was also the largest building in the world until 1929. That year, The Chryslar Building was built by Rose Chrysler.

Modern architectural design can become the source of extreme living ideas

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Characteristics of modern architecture

Here are the main characteristics of modern architecture!

No ornaments

Trims and moldings, as well as other decorative elements on modern buildings, are carried out in a form that is as simplified as possible. The individual character is usually achieved through interesting combinations of materials and larger designs.

Geometric shapes

Rectangular and other geometric shapes dominate the design of modern and contemporary buildings.

The optimal use of the space is another very important principle

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Optimal use of the vertical surfaces

Modern buildings are dominated by lower ceilings. Thanks to the multi-storey layout, the vertical area is used more optimally than in previous architectural styles.

Using traditional materials in a new way

Modern aesthetics can also be achieved with traditional materials such as brick, wood, and stone. For example, they are used for plain wall cladding and other types of linear structures.

Great sloping ceilings are typical of modern architecture

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Material honesty

Material honesty is an important term and it stands for the high appreciation of natural aesthetics. For example, in modern architecture one would paint rather than paint the wood. This is how you achieve a natural look. The same applies to handling other natural building materials.

Blurred boundaries between the inside and outside

The surroundings often become part of the interior design through the use of extensive glass surfaces. This opens up dramatic views of city panoramas or beautiful landscapes and they also become an experience in the interior.

The wide glass surfaces are also striking

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Open living spaces

The open, modern living spaces that combine various functions are also typical. The kitchen, the dining room and the living room now often represent part of the same spatial structure. This makes everyday life much easier to “flow”.

More light in everyday life

Wide glass surfaces also ensure more natural light in apartments and houses. This creates interesting light / shadow effects in the interior. They make the ambience exciting even without special decoration and create a feeling of constant transformation and variety.

This is how modern architecture becomes one with the environment

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Optimal use of the advantages of the location

A modern building is usually positioned in the area in such a way that its advantages are optimally used. Larger trees or other natural elements can serve as a natural shade or privacy screen.

The difference between contemporary and modern architecture

Both terms overlap in many cases and therefore they are often confused. The modern architecture clearly corresponds to the criteria that we have just described. Contemporary architecture is, in turn, a relatively new term. This means buildings that we consider particularly topical in the last few decades. Contemporary architecture must always appear extremely spectacular and extremely impressive. It can, but does not necessarily have to, use forms of modern architecture.

The glass walls give you great light / shadow effects in the interior

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Here is a list of some of the other differentiators for it:

  • Experiments and application of new building techniques,
  • Adaptation and improvement of known materials and techniques,
  • Trying out new building materials,
  • Expansion of the known structural limits,
  • Experiments with innovative floor plans,
  • Use of new technologies.

We promised you that we would show you the different styles within modern architecture. We also have a list of well-known modern architects for you. All of this information follows in the second part of our article on modern architecture.

Lighting also plays a major role in the external appearance of modern buildings

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Modern architecture can often be seen as a kind of provocation

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The same modern styles influence the architecture, the design and the visual arts at the same time

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very current trends in modern architecture

The repetition of shapes and patterns on facades is typical of modern architecture

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Living ideas and decoration –

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