20th Century Architecture

Subject: Art
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 11
Word count: 3176
Topics: Art History, Architecture


The architecture combines practical elements and aesthetical elements. The existence of people in the world meant that they had to live somewhere. As early 400 AD, there were buildings with features of symmetry and columns. The constructors of these buildings used mathematical knowledge in building the temples. The Egyptian pyramids are proof that architecture existed for many centuries now. The buildings have a regular plan in symmetry and proportion. With civilization and modernization, buildings came up with outstanding constructions with the availability of tools and resources. The 20th century marks an evolution of high structures and buildings in the modern age.

History of architecture

Changes in architectural construction and designs were influenced by traditions, regions, trends and culture. The architectural buildings in the past were simple buildings due to lack of technical tools and equipment. However as they advanced, different regions came up with more technical buildings depending on the function of the structures. Early houses by neothilic were plastered and painted (Widjaya 2015). They drew their walls with human and animal drawings. The first form of architecture shows that these group of people were great builders. Tombs were also built in suitable shapes for keeping the dead bodies. In Mesopotamia for instance, the religious temples utilized the design of mud brick. The towers were high and looked like mountains. These places of worship were considered sacred explaining the need to make them unique and outstanding. In ancient Egypt, the decorations in their walls were influenced by their beliefs (Vollaard and Groenendijk 2012). Most of these people believed in many gods. Therefore, they colored they walls with images of these gods. All over the world. Different architecture symbolized the culture of the community. The buildings served the purpose of shelter, and many people didn’t use design in their buildings. Buildings with designs were the holy places or the royal palaces only. The wealthiest people in the society also had the privilege of building mansions because they could afford building materials. Most people would build their houses or institutions depending on the value they attached to the buildings. As the countries faced industrial revolution, there was the need for more industries and organizations as well (Kultermann, 2016). Manufacturing industries sprung up for productions as many systems emerged. New learning institutions and churches came up using the new methods of construction.

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The modern architecture

The modern designs started from the 20th century. The period marks the development of modernism. A group of architects in this particular period decided to come up with new forms of building entirely different from what the world had ever experienced before. The buildings came up due to conditions. The World War 1 was a contributing factor to the modern architecture as many countries got the opportunity to access new materials and structural approaches. They took advantage of the availability of these materials and abandoned old styles of building. After the World War 1, there was the availability of steel and concrete. Since 1880, many offices were build using concrete alone despite their heights. Many of them collapsed due to instability. Iron frames were essential in developing buildings. In Chicago, the first tall office building appeared around 1881(Gössel & Leuthäuser Gabriele, 2012). Previously many buildings collapsed following extreme weather conditions which restricted them to building high walls. The iron frames provided enough support for the weight above as well as the concrete. They also realized that they did not have to make extremely thick walls for buildings since they had better support.  Instead of using concrete, earlier forms of architecture used stones and bricks, in turn, most buildings would appear like masonry dies to the thickness. 

In the 20th century, there was the invention of the aesthetics. Many architectures agreed that they should come up with buildings based on their needs and functions. It included not just having a building but a different design according to the purpose of the building. Louis Sullivan influenced this decision as he observed why many buildings were failing. Many architectures followed suit and, by 1930, most of them used the notion of form follows function. They came up with the perfect structures suited for their purpose. Most of these building did not have any forms of decorations as they did not pay close attention to the decorations. Philip Johnson, however, together with his colleague Henry decided that the building were too simple and that they should change the way they looked. They came up with a new style that they called International Modernism. They put a lot of emphasis on architectural over mass. According to them, buildings were supposed to have thin outer walls as compared to the inside walls (Gössel & Leuthäuser Gabriele, 2012). The location of the windows was near the outer surface so that the frame could fit in perfectly. They also thought that symmetry was not important. 

According to them having regularity in the building was far much important that symmetry. They felt that regularity is a building brings rhythm and balance. Like other architects, Johnson and Henry rejected decorations in buildings with visual gratification. They felt that decorations should come from the structure itself and it should be of elegant proportions with beautiful materials. Many architects within the society put their new style in use. They discovered that with the new design, there was better aeration in houses and the designs looked better especially in urban areas where there was no much space for many buildings. As they put their new styles in exhibitions, they managed to convince many architectures of the advantages the buildings have over others. Surprisingly, many architects in New York, Moscow, and Rome and all over the major towns in the world started international modernism.

Social Generators Which Fuelled Architectural Development

With the different social classes in the society, architects felt that they needed to build structures that are different depending on the social class of people. Urban and rural buildings were different in their designs and sizes. In the cities, there was less space as many buildings sprang up, the design, therefore, had to be different in that they build high offices to accommodate the growing number of people.  Wealthy classes in the modern cities encouraged the building of mansions and new styles. Most of the wealthy class preferred sophisticated designs with decorations which led to the need for coming up with new designs. There were many upcoming architectural schools in the 20th century. Many people, therefore, enrolled as they were passionate with the course. As new architectures emerged, they tried different methods, each of them with different designs trying to outdo the other. The high competition led to many of them coming up with unique designs. Many architects had nurtured the previous ideas from the 19th century, and the availability of resources made them manifest the new ideas. 

With the capitalist societies, many professional architects emerged concentrating on their technical drawings to meet the growing demand of sophisticated buildings. The growing population also led to the need for many houses and institutions. People wanted to live in modern houses and do away with traditional wooden houses. They strived to own better houses thus leading to architectural development (Hitchcock, 2014). As schools came up and the existence of architectures, they made new schools cater for the growing number of students. Civilizations made many people see the need of education, therefore, making young people pursue courses on new institutions. Many buildings failed due to extreme weather conditions. Architects decided to come up with important structures that could stay longer and be able to withstand the hazardous environment. Many people utilized this new styles and changed their housings giving the field of architecture a chance to develop and grow. As the society continued to grow, there were competitions among towns as to who is more modernized than the other. In the 20th century, people considered having the latest design of buildings as modernization which increased the competition. Many architects traveled in different regions with the aim of getting to see the new and better designs so that they could use in their home areas.

Compared to the 19th century, the 20th century marked the need for revolutions. It marked the necessity of urbanization and development where many architects designed and planned for urban cities. Their plans were supposed to be modernized so that they could develop better cities to represent the growing trend of micro-urbanism. Many countries put a vision of how they wanted their towns to look like as they wished for a total transformation brought by industrialization(Glancey, 2013).. The cities would host major institutions and industries and also cater for the growing number of residents moving from rural areas to cities in search of employment and education. The 20th century marked the growth of architecture as many architects got jobs from different sectors.

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Economic Generators Which Fuelled Architectural Development

The rapid industrial growth in the 20th century led to prosperity among the people. The society was wealthier as many people owned their businesses. There were little unemployment cases as people worked in industries. There was also some significant advancements in technologies which made the world of architectures easier. Many schools taught design which created more interest in the field as the demand went up. Availability of iron and concrete made many architects to try out new designs and styles to meet the needs of people. Many people could afford expensive buildings as they were wealthy. Concrete and iron in this particular period were expensive as most houses were built using brick and stones or wood. The ones who could afford concrete were the precious people in the society. The economy was stable and thriving as the government builds better housings for people. 

The century marked the availability of cheap labor due to industrial growth which meant that there were many laborers to work in the constructions sites. In turn, architects found their work easier as they came up with new designs in greater numbers. Industries manufactured the raw materials at a low rate which led to mass production of materials. There was the availability of transport networks like railway which made the work of transporting the raw materials easier. Architects were also able to move from one region to another to compare their actions with that of others. In a significant way, it improved the field of architecture as the economy was booming in their favor. 

Availability of cast iron, glass and concrete made architects desire to build structures that are stronger and taller. With industrialization, making the materials was easier which made them readily available. Comparing to the 19th-century buildings which were heavier and shorter, the new buildings were taller, lighter and stronger. They could go high and not collapse with the support of cast iron and concrete. They also used large glass windows as a way of decorating and making the buildings better. Eiffel towers were built during this particular period using the iron frames ( Kultermann,, 2016). The architects felt the need to break away from their traditional forms of building houses to the new ones as they were aware that they would last longer. They also felt that the new technologies and advancement in their field made their work easier because they could use computers to come up with new designs or check for information’s without a lot of difficulties.

Advanced in technologies led to better building techniques. Many architectures could now come up with better designs with the help of computers. They could access information from other areas and come up with buildings that met the needs they wanted. Because the economy was good, obtaining construction materials was not a hard task some could even get the materials from other countries. With industrialization. Many industries for manufacturing building materials came up. There was the need for such industries as the demand for constructions materials went up. Architects did not have a hard time in their designs since all materials were easily available. The field of the engineer was also doing well as many desired to take technical careers (Simitch & Warke 2014). The combination of engineers and architects also contributes to the development of architecture in the 20th century. They both worked together in coming up with new designs with the use of technologies. In the United States, there was an emergence of skyscrapers due to the fast growing, American cities. The towers were also built using modern technologies and better constructions materials. There were new communication methods in the era where better telephones merged. Architects were able to communicate using emails and phones with other designers who led to the development of the sector.

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Political Generators Which Fuelled Architectural Development

Political stability and peace made conditions conducive for the people. The government came up with policies that favored all professions in their specialization. Due to industrialization in the 20th century, the government supported education by building institutions for young people to pursue their dreams. Many young people joined technical courses to be architects and engineers. With the increasing number of designers, there was the emergence of many buildings as people were able to put into practice what they learned in school (Darling, 2012). Availability of many learning institutions created a chance for many to do architecture. With the government reforms of modernizations, it gave architects the opportunity to put into practice their knowledge as they came up with new modern buildings in the main cities and towns. 

The government supported entrepreneurship. Many people came up to their private businesses as they had become wealthy. Building the business centers created work for architects as they were able to come up with better designs. The government encouraged people to move to cities because they wanted their towns to flourish and grow. It led to urbanization as people settled in town to look for jobs. Architects were able to build more houses for people as the need arose. The introduction of new banking systems in the Federal Reserve Act also contributed to architectural development (Glancey, 2013). People aware able to save their money safely in banks making them wealthy. In turn, they could afford modern houses with new technologies as the society transformed. After the world wars, many governments felt the need for technological advancements and modernization. They, therefore, partnered with many different nations with the aim of borrowing ideas they could use for civilization. They allowed their scholars to attend seminars in many regions all over the world to learn and pick new ideas they could use to advance their countries. Architects were among those who visited other areas picking new ideas to from other regions. It led to the development of architecture as people learned and came up with new buildings. They were also able to modify the ones they had seen

Impact Of The Contemporary Language Of Architecture

The language of design helps professional architects in learning the elements of architectural plans. Designers use various components in coming up with buildings. They believe that buildings speak for themselves. Artists choose different environments for their buildings because it can either affect the structure positively or negatively. The language of architecture in this contexts helps viewers to either see the building as a warmth place or as an erosion. People have different opinions, and individuals will view buildings differently which makes it important for architects to consider the environment while coming up with a new design.

The language or architecture is also helpful in making architects come up with buildings to serve a different purpose. The type of structure made should be by the environments. For instance, in areas with strong winds, the buildings have to be high with an individual design so that it can withstand the weather conditions. The architectural design should have abstract interpretations. The designs should relate to specific geographical locations at serving the need. 

Architecture reflects culture through the language used. Different regions of the world have different cultures with different buildings. The variety is the design can be explained through culture. When people view a building, they can be able to tell the origin of the design because of the language of architecture (Hamlin, 2013). It is essential in preserving cultural identities and also creating diversity in the field of design. The language of architecture is important as it guides architects on how to design buildings. It serves as a guideline they have to follow which in turn minimizes errors in structures. Other architects can also be able to look at the designs as understand the symbols in the design.

The language of architecture can affect the moods of people. When a building is designed in a comfortable way, with proper lighting and enough space, it helps people in appreciating the structure more. The appearance of a building has an impact on people as many individuals feel that architectural design of construction matters. The language of architectures matters since it helps architects in appreciating human characters and coming up with designs that may be enjoyed by people.

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The knowledge from the 20th century is useful in contributing to the future of architectural design. Many great buildings were built during the period and the period marked an evolution in architecture. As technology is advancing, architects can be able to come up with better buildings using the knowledge from the 20th century. There was the discovery of new materials during the era and builders can find better ways of using the materials. The availability of internet and technology invented during the 20th century can be helpful in future architectural production as many architects can use information from the Internet or communicate to other designers all over the world to come up with better designs to serve the need. I believe that inventions in the 20th century are still helpful in architecture today. There are trains and airplanes which are faster than the ones in the 20th century. Architects can take advantage of this and visit great architectural designs so that they can be able to compare and come up with new designs in the future.

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  2. Glancey, J., 2013. Modern architecture: the structures that shaped the modern world, Chicago: Carlton Books Ltd.
  3. Gössel, P. & Leuthäuser Gabriele, 2012. Architecture in the 20th century, Köln: Taschen.
  4. Hamlin, A.D., 2013. History of architecture, New York: Vero Verlag. 
  5. Hitchcock, H.-R., 2014. Architecture: nineteenth and twentieth centuries, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  6. Kultermann, U., 2016. Architecture in the seventies, New York: Architectural Book Pub. Co.
  7. Murray, D., Tingley, K.W. & Luxton, D., 2013. Historical and architectural assessment of the houses in East Campus Village, University of Alberta, Edmonton: Office of Public Affairs, University of Alberta.
  8. Simitch, A. & Warke, V.K., 2014. ˜Theœ language of architecture 26 principles every architect should know, Beverly: Rockport Publishers. 
  9. Vollaard, Piet, and Paul Groenendijk. Architectural Guide To The Netherlands (1980-Present) =. 1st ed. Rotterdam: 010, 2012. 
  10. Widjaya, R., 2015. A small step to the journey of an evolution of architecture, Jakarta: PT TETRA Desaindo.
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