Influenced by the fashionable art movement, modern architecture emerged at the turn of the 20th century and was a dominant style until roughly the mid-20th century. While global interpretations of recent architecture varied, each was a response to major technological advancements that happened at the end of the 19th century. The history of architecture is about as long because of the history of humanity itself. The architecture that we’re talking about today is usually assessed through visual terms and subject to ocular perception, but this urge to style an architectural artifact was fueled by much more than the mere need for artistic appeal. Human actions were embodied in architecture and further clarified through the persistent endeavor to guard some of the built heritage and to decide to let the rest of it fade and decay.

The most successful architecture in history goes beyond just being a shed or a box for living. The foremost important architecture as we look back over history is buildings or environments that have done so much more in a variety of ways. Modern architects add new design concepts to our everyday surroundings. Modern architecture surrounds us at every turn. From skyscrapers to creative home designs, modern architects play an enormous role in the shape of the city. But still, there are some points that modern architects have to learn from history. Below are a number of the points highlighted for modern architects to refer to and learn from.

Attention to detail

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detailed drawing_©https://www.pinterest.com/pin/569986896595105688/

God is within the details, or a proverb goes like this. Great architecture is merely possible when you pay as much attention to the small scale as you do to the big picture. Details tell us what a building is; they’re fundamental to the life and personality of an area. Additionally, the design of an elementary connection can and should be indicative of the designer’s attitude toward the building in general. Detail is architecture at its smallest size. An architectural detail could also be a small piece of the whole, yet it is the power to characterize and define the entire building. It seems then that one of the most consistent functions of details is to bring coherence to a project, whether in terms of favour, materials, proportions or otherwise.

The implication is that good detailing is merely possible when you have a good understanding of­­ how buildings are put together. It supports the notion of the architect as a craftsperson, gradually honing their skill over an extended period. By understanding architectural details as a sort of craft, it becomes easier to work out the broad possibilities they can offer a building. By improving the general quality, they successively can offer greater durability both in physical and emotional terms. Within the same spirit, details shouldn’t just be judged on their ability to serve a function in aesthetic terms. Other senses inherit play when we experience architecture. One could say that the sensory experience of a building also comes right down to details more than anything else.

Durability 

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Ray and Maria Stata Center structural instability_©https://interestingengineering.com/culture/25-extremely-embarrassing-architectural-failures
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Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh_©https://theculturetrip.com/Asia/India/articles/ten-historic-Indian-buildings-everyone-needs-to-see/

They don’t build them like they want to.” Whenever people see a very distressing piece of modern architecture, they are likely to sigh that sentence. It’s true that without constant upkeep, the glass and steel structures that dominate modern cities would soon slide into broken ruins. Ancient builders who didn’t have access to modern materials had to make do with stone, timber, and concrete. 

Comparatively, modern buildings are more susceptible to cracks being tall and slender or large in volume and also have thin walls, particularly external walls. Nowadays, most modern buildings are designed to take higher stress, and additionally, they’re built at a fast pace. At the same time, old buildings were designed for under stress and also built at a slow pace which took long years as long as a person’s whole lifetime. The planning of the modern buildings also includes the use of various decorative materials & modern technology. Modern buildings are, therefore, more crack prone as compared to old buildings, which won’t be low and also have low thicker walls.

Generally, old buildings were built with large and spacious areas and are also environmentally friendly. Old buildings were constructed using minimum energy, and they are used to create less waste compared to modern buildings. Old buildings comprise a robust base, and they were built with better quality materials. Generally, trees have been planted a minimum of two meters away from the periphery of the old buildings; therefore, the roots or any other part of the trees will not affect the building in the future. Modern buildings have amenities sort as a gymnasium, swimming bath on the upper floor, inside car parking, etc., which make them very complex structures while designing. Though the fashionable buildings are designed for each load, sometimes the faulty design and drawing, bad construction materials, poor construction practices, etc., may cause the problems like cracks, corrosion, etc.

Local Materials

Locally available neighbourhood materials like timber, stone, sand, etc., are considered local materials. Locally produced materials are often sought because they match an area’s design aesthetic and can be more durable in the local climate. However, choosing local materials also supports local economies with fewer transportation costs and reduces the environmental impacts of transit. What’s more, the building integrates with the local culture of the city and becomes one with the place.

Lime: lime has been the foremost indispensable material that can be used as a binding material that will remain as solid as iron when mixed in combining blocks of cement and other building materials. It has been used in varying quantities in masonry walls, domes, arches, bridges, water bodies, protective plaster layers, and ornamental works such as stucco, profile plaster, painting, and finishing work. Limestone may be a versatile and durable material that has been used for centuries to create some of the world’s most impressive structures. Limestone is exceptionally weather-resistant, and while it naturally corrodes over time, the corrosion is superficial and won’t impact the structural stability of the structure over time.

 

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Limestone carving of an Indian fort_©https://www.royalindianstones.com/limestone.html

Timber: Timber has been extensively utilized in roofing and building structures to make strongholds and give support to the walls. Timber is often found in wide varieties like Teak, Rosewood, Sal, Sandalwood, Sheesham, Oak, Pine, Jack, Irul, Mahua, Deodar, Mahogany, Mango, Neem, Palm also, as a host of locally available varieties. Timber goes well with the humid and dry climates of India and is employed thoroughly in parts of central and southern Indian establishments.

Stone Jali: The physical function of a jaali is to scale back the amount of light admitted inside and to cut out its blinding glare. It also allows the passage of air but arrests powerful gusts, essentially making it a climate control device for various regions in India following the Indian climate. Although the jaali was majorly used as an aesthetic element within the built form, it had a serious effect on interior daylighting.

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historical stone jali of forts_©https://gosmartbricks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/123.jpg

Clay: Clay bricks and roof tiles are among the oldest building materials in the world and are still extremely popular. This doesn’t come as a surprise, because clay building materials are natural, versatile, durable, and of stable value.

Mystery

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Amber Fort, Jaipur, Hall with columns of sattais katcheri of Amer Fort_©https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/69543/the-indian-chambers-of-secrets

Some historical monuments and buildings have secret rooms for the security of the users at the time of emergency apart from the basement. The planning of the structure was done such that the room appears a wall from the outside. It might be a hidden passage, a mysterious room, an untold tale. For instance, Amber Palace, connecting to the Jaigarh Fort of Jaipur, this 325m long passage was how to evacuate the royal family from the palace in case of an attack, undetected and defended by the military. Some clients have an interest in secret rooms in their houses and it should be the responsibility of architects to suggest people have secret rooms and pathways for the safety and privacy of the users taking inspiration from their ancestors who were not architects but mindful visionary people.

Sustainability

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Wind tower design in Middle Eastern building_©https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/16338
Narrow-passageway-with-high-walls-and-roofed-at-intervals-to-reduce-the-effects-of-dust_©https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Narrow-passageway-with-high-walls-and-roofed-at-intervals-to-reduce-the-effects-of-dust_fig1_270228527

The concept of ‘sustainability’ has been within the limelight for some time. it’s often mistaken to be a contemporary concept. Sustainable practices are ingrained into the vernacular folk architectural practices. A number of the earlier practices have become obsolete with the rise of new technologies. But these advancements even have their negative impacts. Revisiting architectural history shows us how, throughout history, the concept of sustainability has come up time and over. Like the ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ mantra that environmental activists mentioned in the 1960s and1970s. Architects must correlate the past trends to this, to work out better ways to attain sustainability in architecture.

References:

  1. https://www.khov.com/blog/modern-vs-contemporary-architecture-design/ 
  2. https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/the-history-of-architecture 
  3. https://www.impressiveinteriordesign.com/modern-architects/ 
  4. http://squareone.blog/history-of-architecture-learning-from-past-to-prepare-for-the-future/ 
  5. https://gharpedia.com/blog/cracks-in-buildings-contemporary-old-buildings/ 
  6. https://www.wienerberger-building-solutions.com/Expertise/Our-expertise/Benefits-of-building-with-clay.html 
  7. https://rmsmarble.com/history-of-limestone-uses/#:~:text=Limestone%20is%20a%20versatile%20and,role%20in%20shaping%20human%20civilization
  8. https://classroom.synonym.com/ 
  9. https://www.magzter.com/stories/Home/Surfaces-Reporter/Local-Materials 
  10. https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/69543/the-indian-chambers-of-secrets 
Author

Rashi Sharma is an Architecture student from India awarded for her debating and creative skills in the field of Art and Architecture. She is known for her details through graphics explanation that makes her stand out from other authors. She specializes in writing about architectural content and also reviews categories of books.

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