Architecture 101: Introduction to Modern Architecture
Welcome to the start of a new series here on the blog: Architecture 101. In this series, we explore the basics of architecture through Lego blocks!
One of my earliest memories of childhood is playing with Lego blocks. I would spend endless hours building, destroying, and rebuilding detailed structures from my imagination. Creating whole cities or buildings down to the minute details made me feel free and powerful. I still joke today that my love of Lego led me to my career choice as an architect, as it was the profession most likely to let me play with the blocks as an adult. It seems that I was not so wrong.
In truth, Lego blocks are an ideal model-making medium: they are easily assembled, modular, and allow room to experiment freely. The toy company has seized this opportunity to create a Lego Architecture line that recreates famous architectural buildings or provides generic pieces for offices to recreate their own projects with.
If you are interested to learn more about the basics of architecture (or want to see them in a different light), look no further!
In the first episode, we look at some of the major genres of modern architecture in micro-scale.
About: Also known as New Classical architecture, neo-classicism continues the practice of traditional architectural style from classical antiquity and the Vitruvian principles. Although never a particularly dominant architectural movement, neo-classical buildings are still common today.
- Grand scale (usually used for civic buildings)
- Use of classical elements from Greek and Roman period
- Dramatic use of columns
- Simplistic design
Prominent architects:Robert Adam, Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Prominent projects: Woolworth Building (New York City, USA), US Capitol Building (Washington DC, USA), Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)
About: Mostly seen in Midwestern USA, the Prairie style invokes the vast, flat, stretching landscape of native America.
- Horizontal lines
- Overhanging eaves
- Integration with the landscape
Prominent architects:Frank Lloyd Wright, Purcell & Elmslie
Prominent projects:The Fallingwater House (Mill Run, USA), Merchants National Bank (Winona, USA)
About: Also known as the international style, Bauhaus converged the disciplines of architecture, art, and design (including typography) in the post WW1 era. The movement was famous for its emphasis on the function, rather than the form.
- Functionalist, valuing the rational and functional
- Lack of ornaments, simple and minimalistic
- Cheap and can be mass-produced
Prominent architects: Walter Gropius, Adolf Meyer, Mies van der Rohe
Prominent projects: Bauhaus (Dessau, Germany), ADGB Trade Union School (Bernau bei Berlin, Germany)
About: Constructivism rose to popularity in the Soviet Union, as a branch of Russian Futurism. It was unique to its origin country’s ideologies, as it merged technology and engineering under a communist approach.
- Application of 3-dimensional cubism to abstract elements
- Geometrically strong: Mixes lines, cylinders, cubes, and rectangles
- Use of technological elements and modern materials: steel, glazing
Prominent architects: Vladimir Tatlin, El Lissitzky
Prominent projects: Tatlin’s Tower (St. Petersburg, Russia), Textile Institute (Moscow, Russia)
About: Short for Arts Décoratifs, this movement represented luxury, glamour and hope for the future at a war-marked era. The Art Deco aesthetics were applied across many design branches, including architecture, painting, sculpture, fashion and interior design.
- Bold geometric forms
- Bright colours
- Particular detail to craftsmanship and use of high quality materials
- Highly decorative
Prominent architects: Albert Aalbers, Albert Kahn, Erich Mendelsohn
Prominent projects: Chrysler Building (New York City, USA), Fiat Tagliero Building (Asmara, Eritrea), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France), Ankara train station (Ankara, Turkey)
About: Brutalism followed the Art Deco era, as a reaction to the previous decades’ light and frivolous approach to architecture. It was marked for its more serious, sober approach to architecture that didn’t concern itself with aesthetics.
- Function over form
- Inner functions of spaces are visible form the outside
- Raw construction materials: heavy use of reinforced concrete
Prominent architects: Le Corbusier, Ernö Goldfinger, Alison and Peter Smithson
Prominent projects: Unité d’Habitation (Marseille, France), Trellick Tower (London, England), Habitat 67 (Montreal, Canada)
Period: 1960s – Present
About: More of an umbrella term for a few styles of architecture, the style was born as a reaction to the rigidity, formality, and uniformity of modernist architecture.
- Complex and contradictory assemble of forms, colours and textures
- Fragmented volumes
- Asymmetrical shapes
Prominent architects: Robert Venturi, Philip Johnson, Charles Moore, Michael Graves
Prominent projects: 550 Madison Avenue (New York City, USA), Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)
Period: 1970s – Present
About: Contemporary architecture is the architecture of the 21st century. And expressive of its diverse, high-tech, global nature of its era, contemporary architecture cannot be defined in one specific style or approach.
- Mostly designed to be notable
- Heavy use of technological advancement and engineering
- Usually asymmetrical, unexpected forms
- Steel, glazing as most prominent materials
Prominent architects:Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Shigeru Ban
Prominent projects:The Shard (London, England), CCTV Headquarters (Beijing, China), Selfridges Department Store (Birmingham, England)
See more: THE AGE OF CLICKBAIT ARCHITECTURE
Period: 1980s – 2010s
About: Deconstructivism takes postmodernism several steps further. It opposes the rationality and the obsession with rationalism of the previous architectural movements. It can be seen as a controlled form of chaos, where the forms break out of their expected geometry.
- Lack of symmetry, harmony, visual continuity
- Fragmented and distorted volumes
Prominent architects: OMA, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind
Prominent projects: Jewish Museum (Berlin, Germany), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles, USA), Port Authority Building (Antwerp, Belgium)
Period: 2000s – 2010s
About: Neo-futurism reflects a hopeful outlook to the future. It marries modern design with technology of the current times, creating a “utopian”, technologic approach to architecture.
- Use of new materials or use of traditional materials in a technologically advanced manner impossible previously
- Heavy use of computer-aided design
Prominent architects: Archigram, Peter Cook, Zaha Hadid, Santiago Calatrava
Prominent projects: Kunsthaus (Graz, Austria), Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre (Baku, Azerbeijan), Museum of Tomorrow (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)