Modernism and reaction of architecture

The Bauhaus Dessau architecture department from 1925 by Walter Gropius

The dissatisfaction with such a general situation at the turn of the twentieth century gave rise to many new lines of thought that served as precursors to Modern Architecture. Notable among these is the Deutscher Werkbund, formed in 1907 to produce better quality machine made objects. The rise of the profession of industrial design is usually placed here.

Following this lead, the Bauhaus school, founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919, redefined the architectural bounds prior set throughout history, viewing the creation of a building as the ultimate synthesis--the apex--of art, craft, and technology.

When Modern architecture was first practiced, it was an avant-garde movement with moral, philosophical, and aesthetic underpinnings. Immediately after World War I, pioneering modernist architects sought to develop a completely new style appropriate for a new post-war social and economic order, focused on meeting the needs of the middle and working classes. They rejected the architectural practice of the academic refinement of historical styles which served the rapidly declining aristocratic order.

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The approach of the Modernist architects was to reduce buildings to pure forms, removing historical references and ornament in favor of functionalist details. Buildings that displayed their construction and structure, exposing steel beams and concrete surfaces instead of hiding them behind traditional forms, were seen as beautiful in their own right.

Architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson and Marcel Breuer worked to create beauty based on the inherent qualities of building materials and modern construction techniques, trading traditional historic forms for simplified geometric forms, celebrating the new means and methods made possible by the Industrial Revolution, including steel-frame construction, which gave birth to high-rise superstructures. By mid-century, Modernism had morphed into the International Style, an aesthetic epitomized in many ways by the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center.

Many architects resisted Modernism, finding it devoid of the decorative richness of ornamented styles. Yet as the founders of that movement lost influence in the late 1970s, Postmodernism developed as a reaction against the austerity of Modernism. Robert Venturi's contention that a "decorated shed" (an ordinary building which is functionally designed inside and embellished on the outside) was better than a "duck" (a building in which the whole form and its function are tied together) gives an idea of this approach.

Architecture today

Postmodern design at Gare do Oriente, Lisbon, Portugal, by Santiago Calatrava.

Part of the architectural profession, and also some non-architects, responded to Modernism and Postmodernism by going to what they considered the root of the problem. They felt that architecture was not a personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individualists; rather it had to consider everyday needs of people and use technology to give a livable environment.

The Design Methodology Movement involving people such as Christopher Alexander started searching for more people-oriented designs. Extensive studies on areas such as behavioral, environmental, and social sciences were done and started informing the design process.

As the complexity of buildings began to increase (in terms of structural systems, services, energy and technologies), architecture started becoming more multi-disciplinary. Architecture today usually requires a team of specialist professionals, with the architect being one of many, although usually the team leader.

The Bank of America Tower, New York City, United States

During the last two decades of the twentieth century and into the new millennium, the field of architecture saw the rise of specializations by project type, technological expertise or project delivery methods. In addition, there has been an increased separation of the 'design' architect [a] from the 'project' architect
Moving the issues of environmental sustainability into the mainstream is a significant development in the architecture profession. Sustainability in architecture was pioneered in the 1970s by architects such as Ian McHarg in the US and Brenda and Robert Vale in the UK and New Zealand. There has been an acceleration in the number of buildings which seek to meet green building sustainable design principles. It is now expected that architects will integrate sustainable principles into their projects. An example of an architecturally innovative green building is the Dynamic Tower which will be powered by wind turbines and solar panels.
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