Grand Design explores the defining elements of contemporary construction movements, from the harsh facades of Brutalism to the white render of Modernism.
Spearheaded by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (mondriantrust.com) and architect Gerrit Rietveld (+31 20 571 1600; 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, all 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 (+502 2313 9797; soliscolomer.com).
A firm GD 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 (+33 1 4288 4153; fondationlecorbusier.fr), who compiled a list of architectural principles called the Five Points. One requirement was an uninterrupted ribbon of large, slimframed 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, is pictured here. (07775 863 854; selenckyparsons.com)
This movement is epitomised by the famous Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright (+1 480 860 2700; 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 (pictured above), which emulates Wright’s signature design by including generous, cantilevered roofs and thick, overhanging balconies. (+1 323 222 1933; tommarble.com)
Inspired in part by the curved, technology-defined shapes of luxury ocean liners, aeroplanes and cars, art deco straddles modern and traditional design, combining rich embellishment with hard-edged symmetry and minimalist forms. It grew in tandem with the re-establishment of Paris as an artistic Mecca during the Twenties, and today the movement still represents glamour and exuberance. You can avoid mere pastiche by integrating bold shapes and rectilinear edges into your architectural features. The battlements of Los Limoneros in Spain (pictured left) by Gus Wüstemann Architects is a great example, giving a modern update to the geometry found in the opulent facades of theatres and cinemas built in the art deco style. (+34 93 221 5095; guswustemann.com)
Thanks to cutting-edge computer modelling and engineering, architecture is braver and more abstract than ever. The organic, fluid forms of Zaha Hadid (020 7253 5147; zaha-hadid. com) characterise this style – structurally complex, with undulating shapes. Current icons include buildings commissioned by the commercial sector, such as London’s Serpentine Gallery extension (020 7402 6075; serpentinegalleries.org). Work a simpler version into your project with expanses of glass overlaid with angled facades, as in KLab Architecture’s Paradox House in Athens, pictured here. (07553 223 875; klabarchitects.com)
A controversial and misunderstood movement, Brutalism flourished in the Fifties and Sixties and is characterised by stark, slab-like forms – famous examples include London’s Barbican and the sprawling, rawconcrete cultural centres of the South Bank. The rough appearance was partly a rejection of the white, crisp rendering of Modernism, but there was also a practical element: these buildings needed to fill large spaces left behind after the Blitz. The style is often associated with concrete, but some of the early designs were actually constructed from steel, glass and brick. For a nod to Brutalism, incorporate just one aspect, such as its impenetrable, blunt silhouette. The Luker House in London pictured here uses sandstone brick to great effect, and won Jamie Fobert Architects the RIBA regional and national awards in 2014. (020 7553 6560; jamiefobertarchitects.com)
Credit: Bruno Helbling Fotografie; Jim Stephenson; Taiyo Watanabe; Olivier Hess