Modern Architecture - Aesthetic or Functional


Modern architecture commenced in the early 20th century and soon turned out to be the central architectural style in institutional and corporate buildings for three decades. It was permeated with political and social movements, World War II, global migration, and tremendous advances in technology when the world felt the effects of the Industrial Revolution, particularly machine age construction, materials, and transportation. Modernist art claims to be "revolutionary" beyond the realm of the aesthetic with the purpose to equate the aesthetic with the social. Its outcome was functional responsiveness and the planning was liberated from the formality of symmetry and axiality. Mordernism is defined as architecture of strong social purpose and commitment.

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The prime objective here is to understand the actual purpose behind the modernist movement, its philosophy, its impact on the building designs and discus about its aesthetic and functional qualities.

Preliminary Results and Discussion

Architecture for the pioneers of the Modern Movement was to be a force of liberation, democracy overtly political and emancipator in its outlook.

Modern architects believed that a building's size, massing, spatial grammar and other characteristics should be governed solely by the function of the building. They stressed on simplicity, spiritual implementation of structure, and clean lines, with the vision for an idealistic future. Ornamentation was perceived as the application of unnecessary elements, where decoration may be considered the expression of a material, detail, or connection.

The modernist convention dictates a building's organic form to be a derivative of the site itself. Instead of considering the prevalent notion that form follows function, most organic architects believed that form and function are one. The idea was to design the entire structure from the inside. Frank Lloyd Wright, the designer of Falling water in Pennsylvania is one of the most well known organic architects. The design epitomizes man living in harmony with nature. Wright believed that a successful example of the Organic architecture is one where the structural principles found in natural forms should guide modern architecture.

Modernists have variously manipulated a tectonic display of familiar building elements to reinterpret traditional. They also employed traditional structural types in pursuit of new attitudes towards space enclosure and form-making. For instance, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's design for a Brick Country House of 1924 explored the potential of interrelated brickwork planes in liberating the plan. Besides this, he has also developed a new curtain wall system of glass and steel that allowed light into the vast open space.

Another remarkable is the design of Rohe, the German Pavilion at the Barcelona, Spain. This was an elegant single-story building that relied on simplicity, scale, proportion, and quality materials for its sense of ornament. The design and its furnishings became the most celebrated pavilion at the exposition and a model for modern architecture. Its richly coloured stone surfaces were recognized as intentionally spatial as the architectural forms themselves.

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Mies van der Rohe presented an approach to architecture that sought to highlight the eternal and ultimate realities of humanity's relationship to built form.


The struggle for purity, during the modernisation in turn gave rise to a struggle to eliminate ornamentation and generate "pure" structures. The motive was to design such buildings that could blend with its natural surroundings as well as satisfy the functions optimally.


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