The Evolution of Modern Architecture in the 20th Century

Delve into the progressive history of architecture as we journey through the evolution of modern architecture in the 20th Century.

Contrary to popular belief, modern architecture does not refer to buildings or structures built during the recent few years. Modern architecture has a historical context. It began in the 17th Century and continued until the mid-20th Century, when it finished around the 1950s. 

Nonetheless, the movement is still one of today’s most recognized and popular architectural forms. Architects at that point in time operated under the “code” that “structure serves a function,” which led architects to assess what a structure (see should accomplish for the user before considering how it should appear. 

In this article, we will learn what modern architecture is and the structural and aesthetic innovation of modern architecture.

What is Modern Architecture?

The evolution of modernism and numerous reactions to it is the main storyline of architecture in the 20th Century. Many of us use the word “modern” to describe something that is current, possibly even up-to-date and stylish.

However, beginning in the 1920s, the term “Modern” came to mean a specific method taken by a group of architects who aspired to reject previous designs in order to create something wholly unique and original for their own time. 

Historical styles established in reaction to past situations were viewed as archaic, obsolete, and possibly decadent by modernist architects. They dismissed decoration as pointless and old-fashioned, instead attempting to develop an altogether new visually appealing based on the necessities and opportunities of fresh materials and building methods like fortified concrete and steel frames. 

Innovations in Structure

The steel frame’s creation, which became an important component of Modern architecture, originated in the iron frames that first appeared in Chicago’s large office buildings in the 1880s. Until that time, practically every building of any size, including all brickwork buildings, relied on their walls to keep the weather out while also forming the frame of the buildings. 

The taller the building, the thicker the base walls had to be to support the immense weight above them (except when architectural techniques such as domes and vaults were used combined with buttresses, as in churches or big public buildings).

However, with the invention of the steel frame, the walls were no longer necessary to support any weight; rather, the interior frame supported the building while the walls kept the rain out. Steel frames permitted a great deal of plan freedom, with steel beams and frames enabling the development of large interior areas. Architects began to consider the consequences of an alternative aesthetic in more ways.

Aesthetics Innovation

With structural advancements came aesthetic features, a lot of which continue to be used in modern architecture today. Making dwellings more pleasant and healthy was a key aspect of modern-day design. 

During the previous period, abundant natural light and open space were not given. Modern design tried to incorporate these qualities to help those who lived inside experience home improvement and feel better about themselves. Modernism introduced the indoor-outdoor connection, connection to the surroundings, and connection to natural light into architecture.


Modernism’s architectural breakthrough was that they began employing thin concrete, solid concrete using steel, or just steel frames themselves, and they moved the structure away from the building’s covering, so walls were no longer required to support the structure. 

With this shift came the possibility of covering windows and other huge openings, completely changing what was previously conceivable. The inception of this steel structure frame was a major development.

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