As a pioneering approach to architecture, the Modernist discipline took the creative world by storm. It’s only natural that the discipline has since evolved and morphed to mean many different things to many different people around the world, from Japanese Modernists to the Bauhaus School in Germany and beyond. In celebration of this, we’re taking a closer look at just a few of the many nuanced subsects of Modernist architecture.
The Bauhaus Modernist architectural style emerged from the Bauhaus School, founded by Walter Gropius, in Germany over a century ago. The school operated from 1919-1933. Gropius formed the Bauhaus in response to the rise of industrialism, emphasizing the importance of craftsmanship and human-centric design. The school united fine arts and craftsmanship to create one strong point of view, a style marked by its eschewment of the ornamental in favor of a sharp focus on geometric and abstract form, function and aesthetic. The simple schema of Bauhaus architecture was intended to be easily mass produced — and indeed, the style was packaged and spread globally, inspiring Modernist architecture as we know it today.
Emerging at the same time period as the Bauhuas, De Stijl (Dutch for “The Style) originated in the Netherlands in 1917 and is said to have peaked between its inception and 1933. The style emerged post World War I as a utopian means of social and spiritual redemption that took advantage of art and its transformative impact. De Stijl applied to both painting and architecture, proposing ultimate simplicity and abstraction through the use of stark and straight horizontal and vertical lines and rectangular forms. Though considered more prominent in architecture than painting, the movement is considered to be led by Piet Mondrian. Pioneers in the movement considered it the perfect fusion of form and function, yielding what they considered the ultimate style.
While the Bauhaus style and De Stijl were emerging in Eastern Europe, Constructivism entered the scene in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Constructivism was in part inspired by the Bauhaus, as well as by Russian Futurism. The style is characterized by its blend of modern technology and engineering methods, and marked deeply by the socio-political ethos of Communism. Constructivism combined existing Modernist principles like minimal and geometric design with a more experimental lens. This sense of experimental play, combined with its Futurism influences, resulted in intriguing and abstract structures. Though the style fell out of favor only a decade later, its influence can be seen in later movements such as Brutalism — but more on that later.
Stay tuned for more features on the numerous subsects of Modernist architecture.