6 iconic architectural styles

The defining elements of contemporary construction movements from Brutalism to Modernism

By Abi Grogan | 10 April 2017

Discover the origins, ideas and defining elements of architectural styles within contemporary construction movements, from Modernism and Art Deco to Brutalism and Deconstructionist…

1. De Stijl

Spearheaded by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (mondriantrust.com) and architect Gerrit Rietveld (rietveldacademie.nl), De Stijl is characterised by pared-down, geometric forms and primary colours. The only building made to the movement’s exact specifications is the Rietveld Schröder House; it comprises only squares, rectangles and lines at 90° angles, in red, yellow, blue, white and black. Rather than adhering to such purist stipulations, you could introduce accents of primary colour in large, slim-framed windows, as seen here in Casa Chinkara near Guatemala City, by Solis Colomer Arquitectos (soliscolomer.com).

Iconic architectural styles 1

Photo: Marko Bradich

architectural styles: De Stijl

Photo: Marko Bradich

2. Modernist

A firm Grand Designs architectural style favourite, the white planar surfaces of the Modernist era ushered in an age of homes built to function around how people live and work. Its poster boy was Le Corbusier (fondationlecorbusier.fr), who compiled a list of architectural principles called the Five Points. One requirement was an uninterrupted ribbon of large, slim-framed widows – a Modernist feature that can help you to bring natural light into your project. These boxy structures are prone to cracking and warping, however, so choose an architect with previous Modernist experience, such as Selencky Parsons – its River House project, near Oxford (selenckyparsons.com).

Iconic architectural styles 4

Photo: Jim Stephenson

3. Essentialist

This movement is epitomised by the famous Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright (franklloydwright.org). The style was inspired by the traditional American prairie home, which centred on the dominant communal area of the living room; you can bring this element into your project by arranging rooms with various levels around central social areas. For inspiration, take a closer look at Marbletecture’s new-build Tattuplex in LA, California, which emulates Wright’s signature design by including generous, cantilevered roofs and thick, overhanging balconies (tommarble.com).