Are you confused about what the difference is between contemporary architecture and modern architecture? Read on to learn more about these two very different styles and the sort of look they bring to a home.
The basic difference between contemporary and modern architecture
To put it simply, a modern architecture typically points to a type of style built between the early 1900s and the 1950s. It's a very distinct, defined style and it doesn't change.
So while you might think of "modern" and see images of houses built today, that's actually not what it means in terms of architecture.
Contemporary design essentially means "the style of today." It's not something that can be pinpointed exactly, because styles and fashions and trends change so quickly.
To put it simply, "modern" refers to a specific time period in American history and "contemporary" refers to the ever-changing trends in house design of today.
What is modern architecture?
Now you have a better understanding of the basics, let's break it down a little more for you.
The modern design came after a long period of highly decorated and ornate home design that held high favor at the end of the 19th century. At the time, eclecticism, Victorian, and Edwardian styles were the lay of the land and architects felt the need to go against these traditions.
Modernist architecture emerged in the 20th century and created homes that didn't have that ornate flare that homes of that time we're so used to. Instead, the homes had open floor plans, asymmetry, and huge panels of windows or glass walls.
They wanted to create a simple home that was also highly functional. They left out anything unnecessary.
At the time that modernism was created, technology was starting to take hold. More and more people were starting to move away from their roots and into fast-paced environments. This left little room for creativity, spirituality, and emotional connection.
Modernists wanted to allow the people who lived in their homes to feel closer and more connected to nature. And because of this, they built homes to get rid of the boundaries between inside and outside. They wanted the outside of the home to complement the environment around it.
In today's world, you might look at a home designed to look modern and consider it to be cold. Those stark lines and minimalism might seem off-putting at first, but when you step inside, you might be surprised at just how warm it all is.
This is probably because of the dark, rich woods and marble that homebuilders used to create their homes and all the warm colors that were popular at the time.
In 2022, we’ve seen a lot of elements from classic modernism begin to make a comeback in architectural and interior design. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made a lasting impact on how we style ourselves and our living spaces; and with people spending more time at home, the minimalist, functional, connected-to-nature aesthetic has found its way back into style. We now see our homes as a place to retreat from the chaotic world around us, as well as a place where we can function productively in the event of another lockdown situation. The modernist idea of tearing down the boundaries between inside and outside especially makes a perfect fit in today’s society; to bring clean air into our homes and feel connected to nature even when we have to stay indoors.
What is contemporary architecture?
While modernism put down roots in nature and simplicity, the contemporary architecture looks at what is going on right now.
Architects that build homes in the contemporary style usually create their homes to be as innovative and advanced as they can.
These homes will almost always appear more complex than modern homes do. They try to incorporate all different kinds of styles and create free-form lines and movements within the structure.
Contemporary homes started to appear in the 1970s, but that doesn't mean that the style stayed the same. Remember, contemporary style sticks with the times and what is popular right now.
Contemporary homes and modern architecture share a lot of different features, so it can be hard to pick out which is which. Sometimes a contemporary label on a home means it has been influenced by different styles.
Today, many contemporary homes pay homage to craftsman-style homes while keeping up with large, open floorplans that modern homes made popular. What's interesting is that they never rely too heavily on one style; instead, always look at all of them as equals.
Contemporary architecture today
As of 2018, contemporary home is one that includes many high-tech features. Eco-friendly homes are on the rise, and with that comes the development of more energy-efficient measures and sustainability.
Homes made from repurposed barn wood or old shipping containers are also quickly rising in popularity.
Because contemporary architecture is a reflection of society in the current time period, we’ve seen a significant change in what was considered to be “contemporary” pre-pandemic. Due to labor shortages, increasing material costs, and high demand, contemporary architecture has become less about looks/aesthetics and more about sustainability and practicality. Architecture has become more eco-conscious by integrating high-tech innovative contemporary materials and making use of local materials and natural resources.
Modern vs. contemporary design
Let's put the visual differences between contemporary and modern architecture aside for a moment. There's another interesting difference between the two.
The reason for this could be the fact that people believe in a negative connotation of the word "contemporary". Many think the word means "dated".
Which type of design is better?
If you're looking for a home and you're not sure if you prefer modern architecture or contemporary architecture, just remember that both styles of homes offer their own beautiful benefits. They're just different.
Over the past few years, a lot of contemporary architecture has blended in elements of modernism that would benefit our current society. Elements such as open floor plans, connection to nature, and a minimalist appearance have been increasingly popular since the pandemic.
If you're ever unsure of the definition, think of it this way: modern indicates a specific time period, and contemporary means "right now."
Learning the different types of architecture is a key aspect of being a successful architect. Familiarizing yourself with different ways of incorporating modern and contemporary design styles is a great place to start when studying architecture. If you are studying to be an architect, make sure to check out Designblendz's career opportunities.