How did modernism find its way to residential buildings? Consider the meaning of “modern” within the context of the growth of a fashion. “Modern” in this sense is the inception of a brand new aesthetic without building upon or interpreting previous fashions.
Two phases of modern residential design happened in the early 20th century. The first phase comprised Prairie and Craftsman styles, which came to a halt because of World War I, and a second phase comprised art moderne, art deco and International style. This second phase, occurring throughout the 1930s, was brief and not nearly as successful as the first, because of World War II.
About 1900 Frank Lloyd Wright and a few other Midwestern architects that were a part of what is known as the Prairie School created a new vocabulary of style. Their buildings weren’t trimmed or decorated in any previous ornamental style but were distinctively detailed with easier materials confidently overlaid on solid and downhill highlighting forms.
Frank Lloyd Wright deserves significant credit for contributing to the creation of 20th-century residential architectural style. His 1893 Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois, called many trends in the upcoming century. The design highlighted horizontal elements, unlike Victorian topics of the moment, and a simpler and unified aesthetic, which felt grounded and related more organically to the landscape. His other thoughts, for example Broadacre City, preceded and tasked with the influence of the automobile.
This home could be familiar to many Americans, for this particular style stretches from coast to coast and survives in many types. A generous front porch is covered by a hip roof, in which a hipped dormer lets light to the loft area. The continuous eave line confidently encircles the construction and maintains its low profile.
Ron Brenner Architects
This home resembles the previous in form, and its next degree, which became more common, also highlights horizontal elements and has generous eaves standard of this design. Some houses of this sort are called foursquares, but the massing and simplified elevations mimic the aesthetic generated by the Prairie School.
Chrysalis: Home Studio
This brand new home adheres to Prairie details faithfully, yet its overall impression is characteristic of thousands and thousands of similarly shaped houses across North America. Low-pitched, hipped roofs with wide eaves and a long, low elevation incorporate the garage to its layout, a trait significant to later-20th-century dwellings. The Prairie period was comparatively brief, occurring in 1900 to 1920, but its influence translated into the ranch fashion, which started in the 1930s and persisted for the majority of the century.
Kenorah Design + Build Ltd..
This fashion started in California around 1903 and became among the most popular of the 20th century in the U.S.. The Greene brothers, architects in Pasadena, developed a bungalow-type architecture rich with timber detail influenced partially by the English Arts and Crafts movement and partially by Asian wooden structures. The intimate scale and warm details can be interpreted into small and modest homes or expressed more elaborately in bigger examples.
Because of the popularity of this design, there are many variations on the subject, but they are usually detailed with some kind of generous front porch. Columns can be straight and set beneath tapered brick pedestals, as in this example, but this detail varies widely.
Cosmetic mounts visually support the rake (the upwardly sloping eave of this gable end) in many forms, and a flared lintel detail above each window trim bit is not uncommon.
Notice the railing on this porch; variations often make a particular home unique. They can have shingle siding, but clapboard and stucco also happen. Brick is normally used for porch pedestals and chimneys, as is the case for this home.
Moore Architects, PC
This remodeled and remodeled home has tapered wood columns set on stucco pedestals. Compared to the previous home, the roof formation is a side gable, rather than front facing. A shed dormer penetrates the principal roof form. This is a common Craftsman characteristic. Also observe the mixture of stucco and shingle siding.
WW Builders Design/Build Associates
This new home has been designed with Craftsman details inclined to be found on originals, but it also has a few attributes that define it as a neo-Craftsman. The arched lintel involving the porch poles and also the French doors leading onto a deck wrapped with the primary roof and parapet railing are distinct contemporary adaptations.
Jones Clayton Construction
The word “modern” in the context of architecture commonly brings to mind white stucco, glass walls and flat roofs. These are the features of three important fashions which developed between World War I and World War II. Art deco, art moderne and International styles sprouted from the age of this machine. Developed countries around the world had all firmly entered industrialization, and structure represented the happening using a brand new aesthetic.
The International design developed in Europe throughout the architecture of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, among others. The Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen is credited with deco’s having won second place in an important competition in 1922 in Chicago.
This brand new art deco–inspired residence illustrates vertical emphasis characteristic of this design. Many originals of this day were far more detailed, with decorations of chevron patterns together with reeding and fluting in window and door surrounds. More commonly found in commercial or apartment buildings of the 1930s, this design was highly elastic.
More prevalent in residences than in commercial buildings, the artwork moderne design played on the subject of compact machines. Cars, ships, toasters and a number of other items became places for expression of their aesthetic. Note the curved glass block wall in this example. Even though there are few houses today which may be categorized as being this fashion, glass block has become a favorite material for translucent walls and windows in many American houses.
European architects of the 1920s and 1930s adopted a doctrine of no ornamentation, and all elements served only functional purposes. The attractiveness of a building was to be achieved by the exactness of machine-finished structural and materials transparency. For the very first time, exterior walls weren’t structural and were tagged curtain walls. The construction (usually steel) occurred on the inside of the building, also supports were placed to allow as much freedom as possible for inside configuration.
Found in this home is a harshly executed arrangement of elements. The chimney is a floating cylinder, the walls above the windows appear to float, and also the forms appear to enclose indoor in addition to outdoor spaces. Windows are grouped or stretched in long rows, and razor-thin supports define separation.
Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects
Notice how the architects have given the impression of a floating roof in this Los Angeles home. The windows are either large, focusing on a certain level of interest, or organized in ribbons and mitered at the corners. The walls of the home appear solid and massive, like large cubes. The details are flush and smooth.
Within this wonderful Vermont home, the cantilever of a second level serves as security to an entrance. The materials are detailed to feel sharp and precise. The windows and doors align and are flush with the ceiling and the ground. Notice the way the terrace extends across the incline of this landscape, but is not too high off the floor, as a railing would spoil the plot.
Particularly affected by the German Bauhaus school, the International design set into motion an architectural discipline that is, to this day, essential and formative to the profession.
Historically, the trajectory is intriguing. The design became popular in Europe prior to World War II but lost favor following the war; it subsequently recovered popularity later in the century. In America, despite art deco and art moderne, residential style of the 1920s and 1930s was ruled by revivals and eclecticism.
It wasn’t till after World War II did this design fold into an American mainstream vernacular, as we will see in a future ideabook.
Next: Midcentury Styles Respond to Modern Life
Where Did Your House Get Its Appearance? | Le Corbusier: Pioneer of Modern Architecture