Modernist Architecture

Modernist Architecture

Modernism is an architectural movement that emerged in the early 20th century and spread worldwide. It was a response to progress in science and technology, which influenced all aspects of life.

Modernism rejected decorative excesses and aspired towards simple geometric forms. Functionality was paramount - buildings were meant to serve their purpose.

Key Features of Modernist Architecture

Modernist architecture had several distinctive features that gave this style its unique sound. Among the key characteristics of the style are:

Rejection of excess, decor, and ornaments. Facades were laconic with clean planes. Simple geometric forms like the cube, cylinder, rectangle. Use of new materials like glass, concrete, steel. Open, free floor plans. Functionality and rationality. Attention to structures and technologies.

These features make buildings in the modernist style easily recognizable. They became its calling card, reflecting the worldview of an era of machines and technology.

Impact of Technological Progress on Style Formation

The early 20th century saw a breakthrough in science and technology. New construction materials were invented, such as reinforced concrete and the steel frame, allowing the construction of lighter yet strong structures.

Additionally, new engineering solutions like load-bearing walls, frameless and beamless floors appeared. Architects actively used these achievements in their projects.

For example, reinforced concrete provided enormous freedom in creating complex forms - smooth lines, cantilevers. Steel frames allowed the construction of skyscrapers with large glass surfaces.

Technical progress was a powerful impetus for the development of modernism in architecture. It provided a completely new toolkit for embodying the forms of this style.

Key Architects and Their Works

Among the key architects were Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright. They experimented with new materials and forms.

Le Corbusier with his "box houses" on stilts, making the building resemble a machine. Villa Savoye, a residential building on Nungesser-et-Coli Street.

Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, with a functional approach to building design. The Bauhaus building in Dessau.

Van der Rohe with the concept of "less is more". The German Pavilion in Barcelona, the HL-tower in The Hague.

Wright, who worked with a unified internal space, massive geometric volumes. Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania.

Main Materials and Constructions

A distinctive feature of modernism was the use of contemporary materials - concrete, steel, glass. Their application allowed the realization of bold architectural ideas.

For instance, reinforced concrete provided immense freedom in creating smooth lines, curvilinear surfaces. Huge glass surfaces became possible thanks to steel frames.

Transparency and lightness of glass and metal structures created a sense of open space. Bare concrete surfaces emphasized the laconicity of forms.

Using these materials gave modernism its signature austere and functional style, recognizable worldwide.

Spread of Modernism Around the World

Due to its universality and simplicity, modernism gained widespread popularity in the architecture of different countries. Its influence is noticeable in European capitals, the USA, Latin America, Asia.

In the USSR, constructivism of the 1920s-30s gravitated towards modernist forms, despite the ideological settings of the authorities. In China, its features can be traced in buildings of the 2nd half of the 20th century.

This style also penetrated mass housing construction thanks to standard projects. Modernist "box" residential buildings can be seen in various corners of the globe.

Thus, the architectural ideas of modernism went far beyond Europe, influencing the appearance of cities on a global scale.

Criticism of the Style and Departure from It

However, over time, modernism was met with criticism. It was criticized for uniformity, lack of individuality, excessive rationalism. People tired of "boxes" and wanted warmth.

In the 1960s-1970s, a departure from the pure forms of modernism occurred - postmodernism brought back decor and historical elements. But the influence of this style remains significant. It became a symbol of its era of technical progress and optimism.


Modernist architecture reflected the spirit of the early 20th century - faith in progress, technology, and a rational approach. Its laconic forms were experimented with by the iconic architects of that period. Despite criticism, this style had a significant impact on the development of architecture and design as a whole.