Architectural Styles: Modern

Architecture plays a vital role in shaping our built environment, and the design of residential homes reflects the changing needs, aesthetics, and technological advancements of each era. From the early 20th century to the present day, architectural styles have emerged and evolved, leaving an indelible mark on the way we live. In this article, we will delve into the history of modern architectural design in residential homes, exploring key dates, influential architects, and significant architectural styles that have shaped our contemporary living spaces.

The Birth of Modernism:

At the turn of the 20th century, a radical departure from traditional architectural styles emerged in response to the ornate and decorative designs of the Victorian era. This movement, known as modernism, sought to embrace new technologies, materials, and ideologies, prioritizing simplicity, functionality, and a strong connection with the surrounding environment.

One of the pioneers of modernism in architecture was the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In 1908, Mies van der Rohe, along with other architects, published the influential “Wasmuth Portfolio,” a collection of architectural designs that would set the stage for the modernist movement. The portfolio introduced the concept of the “Glass Skyscraper,” showcasing Mies van der Rohe’s vision for transparent, light-filled structures with minimal ornamentation.

The modernist movement gained further momentum with the founding of the Bauhaus in Germany in 1919. Led by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus was an interdisciplinary school that aimed to bridge the gap between art, craft, and technology. It emphasized the integration of art into everyday life and sought to create functional and affordable designs for the masses.

The Bauhaus became a melting pot of innovative ideas, attracting influential architects, artists, and designers. It embraced the principles of modernism and sought to break away from historical styles. The focus was on geometric forms, clean lines, and the use of modern materials such as steel, glass, and concrete. The school produced visionary architects like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who later became the director of the Bauhaus, and Le Corbusier, a prominent modernist architect from Switzerland.

Le Corbusier, whose real name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, played a crucial role in shaping the modernist movement. He believed in architecture as a means to improve society and proposed a radical rethinking of urban planning. His vision, encapsulated in his book “Towards a New Architecture” published in 1923, advocated for open floor plans, functional spaces, and the use of pilotis (columns) to raise buildings off the ground. Le Corbusier’s concept of the “Five Points of Architecture,” which included pilotis, a free façade, an open floor plan, horizontal windows, and a rooftop garden, became influential in modern architectural design.

The modernist movement gained international recognition through exhibitions and events. The “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” held in Paris in 1925 showcased modernist designs from various disciplines and popularized the term “Art Deco” to describe the style. The event laid the foundation for the International Style, which became prominent in the 1920s and 1930s.

The International Style, also known as the Modern Movement, was characterized by functionalism, simplicity, and the extensive use of glass, steel, and concrete. Architects like Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius embraced the International Style and created iconic modernist buildings around the world. Notable examples include Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye near Paris, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois, and Gropius’s Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany.

Architectural Style Modern Entryway

The principles of modernism continued to evolve throughout the 20th century and beyond. Architects explored different variations and interpretations of modernist ideas, incorporating regional influences and experimenting with new materials and construction techniques. The modernist movement laid the groundwork for subsequent architectural styles and continues to influence contemporary design, with its emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and the integration of art, technology, and the environment.

In conclusion, the birth of modernism in architecture marked a significant departure from traditional styles and set the stage for a new era of design. The movement, propelled by visionaries like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and the Bauhaus, embraced simplicity, functionality, and a strong connection with the surrounding environment. The ideas and principles of modernism continue to shape the way we conceive and construct residential homes today, leaving an enduring impact on the field of architecture.

Bauhaus and International Style:

One of the most influential schools of architecture, the Bauhaus, founded in Germany in 1919, became a hotbed for modernist ideas. Architects such as Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe developed a style that embraced clean lines, geometric forms, and a harmonious blend of art and technology. This movement laid the groundwork for the International Style, which gained prominence in the 1920s and 1930s. The International Style emphasized functionalism, open floor plans, and the extensive use of glass and steel. Architects like Le Corbusier and Richard Neutra championed this style and created iconic modernist residential buildings around the world.

Mid-Century Modern:

In the post-World War II era, a new architectural style emerged, known as Mid-Century Modern. Popularized in the 1950s and 1960s, this style celebrated simplicity, organic integration with nature, and a focus on indoor-outdoor living. Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, and Joseph Eichler became synonymous with Mid-Century Modern design. These architects embraced natural materials, such as wood and stone, and utilized large windows and open floor plans to create a seamless connection between the interior and exterior spaces.

Architectural Styles Modern Kitchen

Postmodernism and Contemporary Trends:

As the 20th century progressed, a reaction against the perceived rigidity of modernism gave rise to the Postmodernist movement. Postmodernist architects rejected the strict adherence to functionalism and embraced historical references, contextualism, and diverse architectural forms. Architects like Robert Venturi and Michael Graves incorporated playful elements, bold colors, and eclectic motifs into their residential designs.

In recent years, contemporary architectural trends have been shaped by sustainability, energy efficiency, and technological advancements. Green architecture, passive design, and the use of renewable materials have become increasingly important. Architects like Shigeru Ban, who championed the use of sustainable materials, and Bjarke Ingels, known for his innovative and socially-conscious designs, have become influential figures in modern residential architecture.


The history of modern architectural design in residential homes is a testament to the ever-changing nature of our society. From the simplicity and functionality of the early modernist movement to the organic integration with nature in Mid-Century Modern, and the postmodernist embrace of historical references, each architectural style reflects the values and aspirations of its time. As we move forward, contemporary architects continue to push the boundaries of design, responding to the challenges of sustainability and technological innovation. The evolution of residential architecture mirrors our evolving lifestyles and desires, creating spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing and emotionally resonant.

Photos from Adobe Stock.

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Roderick Hands, Luxury Tulsa Real Estate Agent

Roderick Hands

Managing Broker

Tulsa Home + Design Luxury Real Estate


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Roderick Hands, Luxury Tulsa Real Estate Agent

Roderick Hands

Managing Broker

Tulsa Home + Design Realty

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