modern architecture

modern architecture, new architectural style that emerged in many Western countries in the decade after World War I. It was based on the “rational” use of modern materials, the principles of functionalist planning, and the rejection of historical precedent and ornament. This style has been generally designated as modern, although the labels International style, Neue Sachlichkeit, and functionalism have also been used.

Development of the Style

Since the mid-19th cent. there had been repeated attempts to assimilate modern technology in practice and theory and to formulate a modern style of architecture suitable to its age. A functionalist approach eventually replaced the formerly eclectic approach to design. Technical progress in the use of iron and glass made possible the construction of Sir Joseph Paxton’s celebrated Crystal Palace in London (1851), in which a remarkable delicacy was achieved. In the ensuing years iron, steel, and glass enabled architects and engineers to enclose the vast interior spaces of train sheds, department stores, and market halls, but often the structural forms were clothed with irrelevant ornament.

As late as 1889 the exposed, iron skeleton of the newly erected Eiffel Tower in Paris was met with public outrage. In Chicago, William Le Baron Jenney pioneered the use of a complete steel skeleton for the urban skyscraper in his Home Insurance Building (1883–85). His contemporary, Louis Henry Sullivan, first articulated the theory of functionalism (see functionalism), which he demonstrated in his numerous commercial designs. In addition, experiments in concrete construction were being carried out in France by François Hennebique and Auguste Perret, and in the United States by Ernest Ransome.

As a result of these advances, the formal conception of architecture was also undergoing a profound transformation. Frank Lloyd Wright, a pupil of Sullivan, experimented with the interpenetration of interior and exterior spaces in his residential designs. In Holland, where Wright’s work was widely admired, the architects of de Stijl sought to organize building elements into new combinations of overlapping and hovering rectangular planes.

crystal palace, London

The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass building originally erected inHyde Park, London, England, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. More than 14,000 exhibitors from around the world gathered in the Palace’s 990,000 square feet (92,000 m2) of exhibition space to display examples of the latest technology developed in the Industrial Revolution. Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, the Great Exhibition building was 1,851 feet (564 m) long, with an interior height of 128 feet (39 m). Because of the recent invention of the cast plate glass method in 1848, which allowed for large sheets of cheap but strong glass, it was at the time the largest amount of glass ever seen in a building and astonished visitors with its clear walls and ceilings that did not require interior lights, thus a “Crystal Palace”.

Eiffel tower, paris

Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It was named after the engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. Its base is square, 125 metres (410 ft) on a side. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Because of the addition of the aerial atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Not includingbroadcast aerials, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.

The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory’s upper platform is 276 m (906 ft) above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift (elevator) to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is generally only accessible by lift.

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