Ancestry: History: 20th Century: Architecture:


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Architecture of the 20th century has its roots in the modern era and therefore known as modern architecture. In most modern buildings, the concept of visibly appealing buildings goes back-seat in comparison to that of the functionality of the building being the most important aspect of any building.

During the first half of the 20th century much of the architecture of the time was still based on the 19th century in which buildings were designed as more or less a work of art and if some space is lost over the gain of visibly appealing design then it is fine. However, after the end of World War II the need for functional buildings grew increasingly and as a result the architectural trends changed around this period.

With the Industrial Revolution in the past and the world’s first fair at the Great Exhibition of 1851 already in the chronicles of history, a drastic change in the way buildings were made was just something that was inevitable. The Industrial Revolution led to the mass production of steel beams and other building materials as well as the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building in Chicago which was built in 1885, architecture was bound to make a drastic change from time consuming artistically designed buildings to an almost mass produced functional building.

A number of architects during the first half of the 20th century were focused on modifying currently existing architectural styles like that of the Gothic style, to make them more functional. A lot of this type of architecture can be seen in places like Chicago as well as even in Glasgow.

In Germany, the use of the Arts and Crafts style along with a variation of modern architecture was common place in the early 20th century. Some of these structures still stand today but it would take the 1920’s and the French to make the first real modern architectural advancements. The work in France began to incorporate modern architecture along with organic architecture to build functional industrial and commercial structures.

By 1932, the MOMA exhibition occurred and allowed for the international exhibition of architecture using the modern style and as a result, the forming of the ideals of international modernism made its way to many nations around the world. This international modernistic architecture was of course very rectangular and emphasis on functionality held the most import parts of the design with the visual aesthetics being the last to be added to the building.

From the 1930’s until the end of the 1980’s rectangular and highly functional spaces were the dominant form of architecture around the world but it was the time after the 1980’s that would see more changes in the styles of the 20th century architecture. By the 1980’s many people was once again turning to the older forms of architecture as well as a focus on more appealing structures. It was after this time period where one would start to see more buildings being built in the shape of cylinders amongst many other shapes that are still highly popular today.

The main characteristics which make the international modernist architecture what it is are things like every part of the building has to be fully functional. This would include even the materials in the structure. It was not uncommon for these types of structures to use forms of exterior walls which were more than just a shelter from the outside environments but actually served some sort of purpose in the structure itself.

Modern architecture focused on machine aesthetics or functionality and failed to incorporate any ornamental accents in the structure. This was seen in the simplicity of the designs without any major complications or excessive detail in the design and construction process. The term form follows function was based on this form of architecture and while it is still widely used in certain instances, there has also been a change to returning the ornamental aspects of a building.

Architecture will continue to change throughout the future generations and it will not be uncommon to see a revamping of the international modernism architecture used in the 20th century as cities increase in population and the demand to build up rather than out increases in cities in every nation around the world.

Original Authors: Nick (Globel Team)
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 28/07/2008

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