2 Architectural Styles That Led to Modernism


I think there are 2 main stages in the history of architecture that have led to us being left with modernism. Modernism, sometimes known as contemporary architecture, is the style that practically every single new building, extension or rebuild follows. The same pattern of white rendered walls on the outside, white painted walls on the inside and the typical floor to ceiling windows dotted in random arrangements.

Don't get me wrong this is all very well and good, but it isn't very, exciting! Architecture is all about exploring the unimaginable, discovering something new, not copying the same design as the building down the street.

So, what has led us to modernism  well, as I said before I think there are 2 stages we have been through before now, which you my not have heard of. Number 1, and this is going back quite some time so bear with me on this one, is Palladianism. Palladianism was first 'founded' in 1556 by Andrea Palladio. He was an Italian architect who designed his buildings to be as symmetrical and well proportioned as possible. Already beginning to sound slightly like modernism, right? Every single building had the same 'face', meaning they looked the same from wherever you stand. Inside the floor plans also followed the same formula, meaning that once again all the rooms were the same proportion to one another. This had it's advantages, such as you could never realistically get lost, however the drawbacks were the the kitchen was the same size as the bathroom, living room, dining room, toilet, bedroom.... this didn't lead to much variety. This style was therefore kicked out relatively quickly (Still around for 100+ years).

Floor plan for a palladian building.
The general idea still remained though, and this led to the 'Prefabrication' Era. The main principles of prefabrication were very good, it has to  be said. Saving money, making the building easier to construct and as a end result, a happy client. . The idea has been popular since the Middle Ages. Timber framed houses were built in sections in a carpenters workshop. Then, once transported to site they were 'raised' into the correct position. This is all great, and I'm sure you agree? The issue is when people mass produce. Take the 1930's for example, Walter Gropius was a architect who designed mass, affordable accommodation that can be produced in a factory and then erected on site. A great idea! Until you see the finished product.

1930's Prefabricated House
The finished result, as you can clearly see, are shocking. It really wouldn't matter if they were only around for a couple of years, but they were intended to stay around for at least 50 years!

I think this then has led on to modernism, not much difference in shape and color, still white and cream walls, inside and outside, but furnished slightly more in style than their 1930's counterparts. A formula, if you like, for a generic new build.

A Modernist Bungalow
The ArchitectWeekly Team

Published: 10.01.13 at 04:00
Writer: Ryan Holland, CEO
Editor: Tom Marland, Editor

Cite this article:
"2 Architectural Styles That Led to Modernism" 1/10/2013. ArchitectWeekly. Accessed .