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The term 'modern architecture' is ambiguous. It can be understood to refer to all buildings of the modern period regardless of their ideological basis, or it can be understood more specifically as an architecture conscious of its own modernity and striving for change.The style of modernism in architecture describes a form that takes on a "clean" line and functional focus. It is a "rational" form of architecture that uses non-traditional forms and materials. Modern architecture encompasses many styles and movements. However, experts generally agree that modern architecture was codified in the "International" style that resulted from the amalgamation of the several design ethics that were only made possible by the technological advances after the Industrial Revolution. By the 20th century, it had become apparent that technology was blurring traditional cultural boundaries, as commerce, industry, travel and immigration grew increasingly global.
Modern Australian architecture reflects both new ways of thinking and new forms of expression as well as the fact that in the twentieth century buildings did not need to be made of stone anymore. Buildings could be made of steel and glass which opened up endless possibilities for space and light, and moving between the outside and the inside."It was a conviction that what man's eye seeks in our era, in our time, is not the ponderous solidity of traditional architecture where everything was built to four walls around a room and spaces that were finite. But rather our eyes seek transparency, lightness being able to look through things." Harry Seidler, Australian architect
The use of new materials and technology coincided with a flood of utopian ideas. For much of the 20th century, architects fought over what it meant to be modern. Some argued that while the early modern architecture was dominated by physical function, it also needed to be balanced by an emotional, spiritual and social sense. Recent debate centres around how our relationship with the built environment contributes to our sense of wellbeing.Today, one of the most significant areas of change in architecture is in the choice of materials and designs which will make use of passive energy. This is reflected in the development of an alternative model for public spaces and urban living based on social architecture and the 'green' apartment. Australia's modern residential architecture also reflects this change with architects using new environmental materials and producing designs that address social needs.
Architecture will never achieve some perfect state where everyone accepts that the one best form has now been achieved. The reason for this is that what is considered best changes as people change. This aspect applies to architecture as much as it does to any other art form or any item produced in society. People in one generation may strive for a certain perfect form and they may even achieve it in their lifetime. However, even if they do, this form does not become the one perfect standard, never changing again. Instead, the next generation considers what has been created before and strives to achieve something. If architecture is considered as art, this is the same process that occurs with all other forms of art.
For example, literature created centuries ago does not remain as the one perfect form for literature. Shakespeare's work is still considered great, but the writers of today rarely create works similar to Shakespeare's. Instead, they create works that reflect modern society, while possibly taking aspects of Shakespeare's work and building on them. This creates a continual process of change, where one form grows into others. If architecture is considered as practical rather than artistic, it can be likened more to research based developments. For example, the automobile was first developed in the early 20th century.
Since that time, technical developments have seen it change considerably. These changes are also in response to changing society. For example, currently environmental issues are a social concern. For this reason, automobiles are beginning to develop with alternatives modes of fuel. Such as designing a greener or more environmentally friendly home. The use of natural light and rain water tanks for irrigation. Overall, this shows that architecture is like everything else in society, in that it will be constantly changing as society changes, while each generation will consider the works that have gone before it, assess them, make changes, and in doing so, continue the development of the field.
Modern architecture defined design in the twentieth century and continues to influence that which has followed, it's preservation is as crucial as that of the architecture of any previous period deemed historically significant. This history of modern architecture can be complex both intellectually and visually and has been the subject of extensive scholarship. Defining some of its specific characteristics will set the stage for a more comprehensive overview and provide a foundation for the formulation of a sensible preservation policy and approach.
This forward looking generation in Europe, scarred by the devastation of World War 1, embraced modern architecture, seeking to improve it's quality of life through the buildings and spaces that it provided. Le Corbusier and other organisations such as the (International Congress of Modern Architecture), built examples of early modern movement during the interwar years which were defined by strong convictions concerning social values and aesthetic objectives.
Some critics say modern architecture went out with a 'bang', others say modern architecture was placed on life support fighting for it's existence deterring itself from the button being switched off, protecting itself from the verge of extinction. People didn't notice or prepare for the funeral of modern architecture as there was no need for panic amongst the design world. People knew there was going to be "No" death of modern architecture as the art form kept a low profile rebuilding itself and equipping itself for a major invasion of the design & architectural world.
As modern architecture increasingly becomes part of the continuum of architectural history and it's buildings experience threats that range from material to functional obsolescence, not to mention demolition due to abandonment and lack of appreciation, concern for it's preservation has grown.
People are quick to assume that a few demolitions of buildings such as the Mindru Yamasaki in St Louis, Missouri, on July 15th, 1972 was the start and end of modern architecture. This demolition was a cleanser and purifier making way for new life of modern architecture, not only did it help it's cause but helped St Louis exterminate the rodents that lurked nearby loitering the building's corridors and invading it's lack of semi private space. The fact of the matter is, modern architecture was never in the hands of St Louise, St Louise was in the hands of modern architecture. Modern architecture decided it's buildings were best expressed somewhere else protected from savages.
To be able to make such amateur predictions over a few demolished buildings, that this would be the death of modern architecture, is a fairly ludicrous statement. No building, artwork, vehicle or human is safe from crime and vandalism. There is only so much one can do unless you want to be confined in a bubble experiencing a lifeless atmosphere. The so called death of modern architecture based on this merit, is strongly opposed and disregarded by various architects.
Art is one's view and analysis of the world, it is an interpretation of what the human eye can see at a particular time at any given stage. Modern Architecture is an offshoot of one's perception on a visual of life through the human eye, only difference being, we project that visual into a life long structure as a piece of memorabilia for that era. It is a process within an art 'form' that never ceases and never dies.
The modern movement was misinterpreted by certain critics labeling it a "Capitalist's World" supported by 'concrete jungles' invading an urban landscape. Although a very true statement, the capitalist approach has effected all styles of movement throughout the years. It is a monopoly that never ceases the opportunity to stop making money. As long as tourism evolves, and the human population increases, the capitalist will continue to dominate.
The advancement of technology was seen not only as an opportunity to create a new style with few or no references to the past, but also as a tool for creating more, improved, and healthier living and working environments accessible to and affordable for everyone. Visually, the plain white boxes associated with the early modern movement, with their flat roofs, wall constructed out of concrete or concrete block with stucco, and their steel strip windows were a distinct stylistic break from the load-bearing masonry and timber buildings of the past. They were also the visual starting point for subsequent developments, as reflected in many buildings and building typologies that, with their design simplicity, lack of ornament, spatial clarity, new ways of using materials, and abundance of light pouring through large windows, became in many people's minds synonymous with modern architecture.
Although the size of some structures can be perceived as alienation or a cause for alienation in today's projects. There must be some understanding as to why this has occurred. As time and technology progresses, society looks to what resources humanity has available to make life easier. Luxurious hotels with air conditioning as appose to setting up camp with mosquito's attacking your skin. This is called "accommodation", to accommodate the "needs" and "wants" of mankind in a fast evolving world. Shopping centers and housing estates as appose to people growing their own food and harvesting their own water for self nourishment and to avoid as best as possible and to deter homelessness, disease and hunger on the streets of "modern civilisation".
In some third world civilisations this can deem to be impossible, but for those civilisations that are fortunate enough, should take advantage of what they have, and use it to their advantage.
How big is too big? That is a question that yet remains unanswered. It is a question that will be answered as time progresses followed by change.
Univalent form is the most recognised form in architecture today particularly modern architecture, with the use of a few materials and single right angled geometry. E.g. The glass-and-steel box has become the most used form in modern architecture throughout the globe to signify the 'office building'. The whole design of it's type was to distinguish office from residential -work from living space. In some structures this was confused and failed to what it was trying to distinguish.
In the early years architectural design was based on cultural aspects in an urban environment, particular to a certain social group, and economic class. Today modern architects base their design and cater for the universal man. Some critics find this unacceptable as society is use to their traditional beliefs and values. What society struggles to accept is that this world consists of various cultures & values and in order to live as one man, these cultures and values need to learn to adapt through modern architecture, and it's facilities available to everybody.
Applications not only in residential architecture but also in a wide variety of other building types, including public buildings like schools, town halls, and libraries, as well as corporate structures, all generally categorised and visually recognisable under the umbrella of the International style, a term which itself became widely accepted. The acceptance of modern architecture and it's preservation in the United States centers on the visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). In World War II, the US did not have as strong as modernist tradition as some of the European countries.
Believing that "the space within that building is the reality of that building", Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most prolific and influential architects of the 20th century. From his early Prairie Style homes, to the sculptural curves of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, he defined a North American style of architecture which was rich in emotion and sensitive to it's surroundings. This prevailing stylistic interest was Art Deco. The work of Frank Lloyd Wright stands alone. His less ornamental and open-plan houses from the 1900s and 1910s introduced America to a simplified idiom that focused on design elements, and he inspired European émigré architects who respected his work or worked with him upon their arrival in the US. Modernism was introduced as a distinct style and is to a large degree the work of a handful of architects who arrived from Europe or were influenced by the early modern style.
He was one of founders of modern architecture in North America, Frank Lloyd Wright embraced the use of new technology, materials and engineering to create some of the 20th century's most influential iconic buildings. During a long productive career spanning 70 years he designed over 1,000 buildings of which over 400 were built. If some critics say that is a death in modern architecture, then we have completely missed the point to this discussion.
In 1906 Robie House in Chicago was Wright's most mature expression of the Prairie Style of architecture. This house was to consist of full light with views of the street, but without neighbours looking into the residence. So the house has to have a great deal of privacy. Wright constructed a massive cantilever on the west side of the house that gave the living room privacy and shelter from the sun. It also opened out the house by moving away from the tight box shape of traditional homes. The low, horizontal form is exaggerated with the use of ribbons of cream stone for the base plinth and copingstones and red brick for the walls. A central fireplace open above the mantel gave greater unity of space to the large living and dining rooms, which Wright saw as the centre of family life.
In 1995, efforts focused on conservation of modern iconic buildings, works associated with major architects, as well as more local projects. The late 1990s witnessed increased activity, including the listing of important buildings such as the Glass House on the National Register in 1997. Notable rehabilitations included the curtain wall replacement of Lever House, which began in 1998. Significant restorations included the 1997 restoration of Walter Gropius's House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, reinterpreted in 2001; the renovation of Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, following a flood in 1996; and the restoration of Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California, finished in 1999.
Was there really a death in modern architecture? Has modern architecture been rained upon by controversy from critical analysis of the post modern era? Will this spark an end to the controversial style? These questions can be answered as specifically or as elaborately as possible to a certain degree. Where there is change in the world, and a change of circumstances that confronts humanity and its lifestyle, people look to move forward in life and take advantage in what today's technology has to offer them, therefore the do's and don'ts of the post modern era can now be relaxed, because the modern age has what it takes to advance itself and become the greatest style of the era.