Top 10 Modernist Architecture Buildings

Modernism in architecture brought in a change of perception. It also brought in the concept of new materials and advanced technology in architecture. It helped us to explore new possibilities in simple and feasible materials. Modernist architecture was all about embracing the new trend of minimalism and sleek design. Therefore, this in a way also meant a rejection of the historical and old identity of architecture. In this process of exploring the ‘new’ aesthetics, modern architects gave us iconic buildings. These buildings stand strong as timeless beauties.

Rise of Modern Architecture

The modern architecture style was also in a way a product of the then prevalent industrial revolution. Materials of mass production were also prominently used in buildings of this style. As the industrial revolution demanded prompt infrastructure, the methods of construction and design underwent a shift. Therefore, buildings were designed mostly with an industrial perception. The ornamentation in buildings was also reduced. Fulfilling the functionality of buildings became more popular. This led to the need to think of new ideologies to support the need of the time. Modern architects therefore resorted to more functional designs. They tried to extract the maximum potential from simple materials. Modernist buildings not only depict the design acumen of the modern architects but also act as reference points of a new thought process.

This thought process showcases the whole concept of ‘breaking away’ from the then conventional methods of architecture. Modernism in architecture was indeed a new renaissance of minimal, simple, and ‘modern’ design. Here’s a list of the most influential Modernist buildings, which with their modern architecture style have managed to emerge as ‘Timeless Beauties’.

1. The Seagram Building, New York

Designed by Mies Van De Rohe, The Seagram Building is a 515 feet tall example of Modernism. The sleek play of Grey topaz glass and bronze façade is the ultimate idea of modern architecture. The Seagram Buildings is the living example of Mies’s Modernist outlook and the modern architecture style of the 1900s. The distinctive grey glass and floor-to-ceiling glazing also promote the idea of barrier-free design.

Modernist buildings like these helped to establish a new design ecology. This 38 storied glass tower set on a wide plaza in granite helped to strengthen this ideology. The design of the Seagram building was breaking away the monotony of New York’s urban fabric. It reversed the urban idea of the city and its skyscraper construction dynamics. The idea of a large public plaza opening into a granite laced lobby, leading to a tall glass box (tower) was still a new ideology for New York at that time.

2. The National Congress of Brazil, Brazil

The National Congress of Brazil is an advocate of modernist architecture. It is a product of Oscar Niemeyer’s Brazilian Modernism movement. Having strong imagery of its own, this is one of the most influential projects among Niemeyer’s works. The National Congress Building is more of a modern abstraction. The use of simple forms in an abstract manner and the unleashed potential of concrete are the highlighting features of modernist principles. The placement of semi-spherical forms on either side of two vertical towers creates a strong visual appeal. These semi-spheres are the Senate and the Chamber of the Deputies respectively. Standing tall between them are two vertical office towers that depict the minimalism in modernism.

3. Planalto Palace, Brazil

Planalto Palace is one of the iconic examples of Oscar Niemeyer’s contribution to modernism in architecture. Among the modernist civic buildings designed by Niemeyer, Planalto Palace remains the most influential one. It is the official workplace for the president of Brazil. The white marble-covered slender columns that run through the white concrete roof and the ground have managed to attribute strong modern imagery to the building. It also provides an illusion of placement of the structure entirely on the columns. Moreover, the glazing, the reflecting pools, and the jutting out ramp add to a dramatic effect. Planalto Palace changed the perception of presidential buildings of those times and put forth a ‘new’ modern approach.

4. The Palace of Assembly, India

Le Corbusier was undoubtedly the crusader of modernism. Especially for India, as he gave Indian Architecture a modern edge. The Palace of Assembly of Chandigarh is one such example. The concept of modernist architecture is very well evident in its design. Corbusier had induced his concept of five points of architecture in the design of this structure.  It was also breaking away from the conventional architecture prevalent in India. The project also introduced the possibilities and strengths of concrete. It also popularized the importance of an open plan. With the fenestrations and the ‘free facade’, Corbusier managed to introduce a new kind of imagery in the architectural world.

5. The Convent of La Tourette, France

La Tourette is another of Le Corb’s magic. It was built as a community for monks. Despite being a community-specific structure, the architectural language used here seems to be very modern and universal. The desi facilitates spaces for the individual cells, a communal library, and classrooms. There is also a church and rooftop cloister within the complex. This too is based o Corb’s five points of architecture. Moreover, the simple concrete structure acts as a shell to enable the simple and silent lives of the 100 monks living there. The structure is such that it helps the community within to dwell in their space with no disturbances from the outside world. The pilotis and the strip widow series is a typical feature of the La Tourette.

6. Habitat 67, Canada

Habitat 67 was Architect Moshe Safdie’s expression of experimental housing. It was designed for the World Exposition 1967. This structure is an expression of a profound idea of a housing scheme for a dense urban environment. It also integrates the idea of suburban housing and high rise schemes. This introduced the world to new techniques of using prefabricated materials in construction as well as steel cables. The 354 prefabricated housing units were assembled on the site and interconnected with the steel cables. This project not only established iconic imagery but also brought in a new dimension to the construction world.

Habitat 67

7. FagusWerk Factory, Germany

FagusWerk Factory is one of the foundation stones of modern architecture style.  It is Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer’s one of earliest experimentation in modern architecture. The design here was based on the concept of ‘Transparency’. The linear and glazed façade adopted here also went on to become one of the criteria of modern design. The use of glazing facilitated harnessing maximum daylight. Moreover, it also went on to become an artistic solution in the industrial context. The design of the Fagus factory also brought in a sift from the traditional load-bearing walls to a barrier-free facade with gazing and RCC Columns.

FagusWerk Factory - 01

8. The National Assembly Building, Bangladesh

Also Known as the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, this is one of the lesser-known, however; worth mentioning structures by Architect Louis Kahn. Modernist buildings have spread throughout the globe and so has the idea of modernism.  The National Assembly Building was therefore an example of the modernist aspirations of Bangladesh. Bangladesh does not have a very modern or developed backdrop. However, this structure fits in very well in context to its developing aspirations to grow and move towards modernism. Such is the beauty of modernism that it holds irrespective of the context, the region, the culture, and traditions. Kahn here curated a simple and modern structure with local materials. He also played with fenestrations, light, and shadow, here as well. This structure stands as a symbol of Bangladesh’s newfound thoughts and independence.

9. The Cayan Tower, Dubai

The Cayan Tower is not only modern but also the largest twisting tower in the world. Designed by SOM, the Cayan Tower is Middles East’s one of the responses to modernist architecture. The twisted body has dominated Dubai’s skyline and is also referred to as the Infinity Tower. This is designed as a 75 storied skyscraper with each floor twisted to 1.2 degrees from the preceding one. The floors are designed around the central elevator core. The Cayan tower today has an iconic reference not only in the middle east but also throughout the world.

10. The Phoenix Tower, Australia

One of the slender modern towers is The Phoenix Towers in Australia. It is more commonly referred to as the ‘Pencil Tower’. The tower is around 195 meters tall, however; just 12 meters wide. It stands tall in the city of Melbourne and has emerged as an iconic modern building. The phoenix tower is an example of how modernism is not restricted by shape and size ad involves experimentation.

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Modernist Architecture Buildings

  1. I am from Philadelphia. Not an architect. Always was told the PFSF Building in Center City was a prime example of modern architecture.

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