Modern Architecture vs. Contemporary Architecture

Often Modern architecture and Contemporary architecture are used interchangeably, however they really aren’t the same.

Here is a quick and easy way to understand what the difference is so when you are on your architectural travels you know which type of architecture you are looking at.

Modern Architecture

Contemporary Architecture

Timeline
  • Began at the turn of the 20thcentury
  • Became popular post WW2
  • The present day
  • An evolution of modern architecture
Characteristic
  • Simplified form & Clean Lines
  • Visual expression of structure
  • Emphasis on Function
  • Vary greatly
  • No specific unifying features
Themes
  • “Form Follows Function” (Louis Sullivan & Frank Lloyd Wright)
  • Simplified form
  • Removal of unnecessary details
  • Truth to materials
  • Machine aesthetics
  • Sustainable design
  • Natural materials
  • Eco-friendly / Green design
  • Equality
  • Landmark
  • Globalization of architecture
Architects
  • Walter Gropius
  • Le Corbusier
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rhoe
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
Associated With
  • Bauhaus
  • International Style
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
  • BIM (Building Information Modeling)
Examples

Modern Architecture:
The Bauhaus in Dessau Germany by Walter Gropius

Contemporary Architecture:
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) by Daniel Libeskind

Modern Architecture:
Notre Dame de Ronchamp by Le Corbusier

Contemporary Architecture:
Simmons Hall MIT by Steven Holl

Modern Architecture:
S.R. Crown Hal by Mie van der Rohe

Contemporary Architecture:
Walt Disney by Frank Gehry

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5 thoughts on “Modern Architecture vs. Contemporary Architecture

  1. Pingback: Work in Progress-Contemporary or Modern Oxford Art? - Cathy Read Art

    • Zane,

      Good observation, but decon is/was an expression or deeper study of modernism that took place in the 80s. Contemporary is better defined as an expression of ‘now’ making decon 80’s contemporary.

      The article inaccurately defines contemporary as an evolution of modern architecture. Contemporary has existed since the beginning, and is better defined as the evolution of what ever is currently in style.

      Modernism was a movement, a completely new style (or species) while contemporary is a further expression of a style.

  2. Both architecture are based on the rational use of modern materials the principles of functionalist planning and the rejection of historical precedent and ornament ………………..but the modern building aren’t early than contemporary buildings

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