The Details of Modern Architecture vs. Contemporary


When people today talk about modern architecture, they usually mean contemporary. There are some differences and it’s important that you know what those are if you intend to participate in the planning process of your home. The basic difference is that “contemporary” means a design consistent with the architecture being produced currently. “Modern” refers to designs that show a clear break from the past, specifically a break from the traditional styles that existed before the Industrial Revolution. Modern design typically refers to the time period when the use of cement, steel, and glass throughout a building was an intentional tactic.

Open Spaces Free of Distraction

One of the most popular characteristics of the modern movement is the open floor plan. Walls are used sparingly and doors are used to both divide space and to direct the flow of movement through the home. The open space is kept clean and uncluttered, drawing attention to just a few details, often used to dramatic effect. These elements are used today in a number of different architectural trends.

Asymmetric Architecture

Another identifying aspect of modern design is the intentional asymmetry of the architecture. Some of the more famous examples of this include the Beijing CCTV building, the “Turning Torso” in Sweden, the Sydney Opera House, and Capital Gate Tower in Abu Dhabi with its purposeful lean to the west. Although there may be some signs of asymmetry in contemporary design, it is much more intentional in modern architecture.

The Use of White to Highlight Simplicity in Ornamentation

The use of whitewash on the exterior of a building and a predominance of white used for the décor of the interior have a great deal to do with modern design and architecture. Deliberately, modern homes exude simplicity in ornamentation. White walls haven’t been neglected, but play a vital role in showcasing open floor plans and the use of industrial building materials, such as cement, steel, and glass.

Clear Division of Spaces

The divisions between spaces in modern design are clear. (Contemporary building plans focus more on a smooth transition from indoor to outdoor areas.) Doors in a modern home may be fashioned from plastic, glass, or polished metal.

The Differences Are in the Details

From start to finish, the details that matter most in modern design and architecture are clean lines, intentional asymmetry, and the minimalist philosophy that less is more. As you consider your options when it comes to design a modern or contemporary home, make sure that you understand the differences. Otherwise, you may end up with a plan that doesn’t resemble your initial vision.

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