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Future Conscious Melbourne
Future Conscious Melbourne

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Modernist Architecture

The modernist design movement was a complex reaction to a number of societal changes from the early 1900s through to the 1960s. In the early days, the style was heavily influenced by both the Bauhaus German art school and a number of architects working in Chicago, US, at the same time (the Chicago school).

Embracing a minimalist, function-driven approach, examples of well-known modernist buildings include: the Glass House, Illinois, US; Villa Savoye, Poissy, France; National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh; The Davies House, Willoughby, US; Fallingwater, Mill Run, PA, US; and the De La Varr Pavillion, in Bexhill-on-Sea, UK.

Fallingwater by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Picture by Wiki Commons

Modernist buildings are characterised by asymmetry, clean lines and the use of modern building materials. Steel, concrete, cladding and glass feature prominently in modernist structures. Innovative technology and modern methods of production are crucial to the creation of modernist building fabrics. Function is paramount, with form a secondary concern.

The buildings lack added ornamentation, obtaining beauty through simplicity and minimalism rather than embellishment. Each feature has a specific use, shaping the interior environment in order to provide a better living experience for occupants. Epitomised by Le Corbusier’s statement that “a house is a machine for living in”, architectural modernism focuses on utility.

Lovell House by Richard Neutra 1929. Photo byMichaelJLocke / CC BY-SA

There are a number of prominent modernist architects who played a major role in defining modernist design. These include: Le Corbusier; Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe; Walter Gropius; Frank Lloyd Wright; Oscar Niemeyer; Eero Saarinen; Bertholdt Lubetkin; Kenneth Frampton; Richard Neutra; and the well-known Wells Coates.

Learn about Modernism in Australia in this Q and A with Hannah Lewi.

Cover Image by Arild Vågen / CC BY-SA