The late 19th and early 20th century saw the rise of rectangular structures as the norm as modern architecture moved towards standardization, with the standard rectangular skyscraper rapidly becoming the urban ideal. With the rise of advances in computer-aided design and building materials, the basics of architectural design have been largely upended, and architecture is reaching a new highs in terms of structural functionality coupled with creative, unique structures regularly. Advances of the time raised the industry’s ceilings, plus rejuvenated interest and passion for the profession.
The Return of Tessellation
Because architecture design was done largely without the help of computers during that period, a lull settled in, with only a few visionaries producing great work. Frank Lloyd Wright demonstrated the first real departure from “the box” design of the typical building structure. But the rise of computer-aided design has facilitated the rise of complex geometric expression through tessellation to previously unthinkable levels: not since the age of mosaic has so much been done with geometric patterns. This novel approach isn’t limited to exteriors either. Interior design benefits from computer design. Floors, columns, ceilings, plus the tiling itself, is now computer generated, leading to sweeping and groundbreaking structures. Perhaps due to the popularity of Escher’s groundbreaking art, or perhaps just because it’s easy to have computers make pretty patterns, modern architecture makes the most of tessellation.
Another powerful difference between modern design and “classical” design is inherent functionality. Whereas architecture became almost stoic in its pragmatism before the end of the 20th century, the modern age means building design takes into account everything from the best design for an exterior based on its environment, as well as new functions that were previously unconsidered. Space is an illusion in modern design, with paneling systems masking underlying technology or climate functions. Panel systems also make a difference in acoustic design, with everything from the floor to the ceiling being designed specifically to maximize the intended effect. For this reason, metal panel systems are increasingly the model of choice in modern architecture. This infographic easily explains why.
There’s a method to the madness in modern design, and new architecture means having fun with a design while maintaining peak functionality. New designs make use of skylights and natural lighting to beautify and make a powerful architectural impression. Often buildings are designed with level- or room-specific lighting and acoustics, designed to maximize the intended functionality and improve the productivity of its residents.
Environmentally Conscious Design and Sustainable Materials
One of the biggest differences between modern architecture today is its substantial reduction in environmental impact. Making use of design to increase natural light and reduce overall energy costs is commonplace in both business and residential design. The shift away from wood towards metal paneling means that mold risk is mitigated, making it easier to repair and maintain such designs. Because of the increase in synthetic, eco-friendly paneling, buildings are safer and more environmentally friendly than ever.
But the revolution in architecture today goes far deeper. Many wood and metal paneling systems, are made with materials from sustainable sources: many metal paneling systems can be made from up to 90% recycled materials. Of course, the biggest change is environmental impact: whereas overage(s) in older design led to material waste based on estimates, modern design cuts the materials down to what is actually needed to make the design successful.