Defining Styles of Architecture
BLOG: There is a type of language that architects use on a day to day basis. When communicating with one another, using terminology like modern, traditional, or contemporary is not entirely uncommon. However, as a client when you are looking to design your next school, place of business, or home, it is important to understand what kind of style you are specifically asking for. Each style brings its own unique characteristics. This can range from specific colors, materials, or geometric shapes. If you do not know how to express what style you are going for, the danger is that your project’s initial design could be completely different than anticipated or it could create a discord of ideas between you and your architect. It is crucial to understand the difference between these popular styles:
Modern: This style originated from the early 20th century, and is fairly simplistic with its style. Steel, glass, stucco, and concrete are typical materials used in the projects design. They allow a lot of light through incorporating a lot of glass. Typical modern residential and commercial buildings have open floor plans. The style is typically very clean-lined and straight-forward in its appearance. Its beauty is in simplicity and details.
Figure 1: Modern: Use of glass, open floor plan, & simplistic design
Contemporary: This style is ever changing as the years go on. Contemporary reflects whatever time period we are in. Currently, contemporary would include eco-friendly design ideas, natural materials, green design, sustainable, and a variety of material usage. You can commonly see a variety of geometry being used, including different window shapes and sizes, as well as complex geometry. Realtors will often use this term for homes created in the early 1980’s and that is 39 years ago.
Figure 2: Contemporary: Use of different geometry, windows, and use of colors
Traditional: Vernacular architecture and traditional architecture go hand in hand. This style typically refers to what is indigenous to the specific area you are in. This means it reflects the history and culture of what area of where you are. Traditional refers to styles including colonial, tudor, mediterranean & craftsman.
These are just a few of the most common style you will find on a day to day basis. These styles of architecture can all be applied to your next project, whether it is a commercial or residential building. When thinking about what you want your new building’s space to look like, you will need to make a decision: Do I want to blend in or stand out? If you answer is to blend in, then keep in mind what’s indigenous to the area, as well as, what style fits into the environment the best. If it is to stand out then consider going modern and have some fun working with your architect.
Figure 3: Traditional: Fits in with its environment and natural surrounding buildings through material use and scale
About the Author: Marisa Mines is an Architectural Designer at Tokarski Millemann Architects. She is passionate about design through space planning, which is accompanied by her experience with single family residential projects and large scale commercial projects. She does drafting, space planning, material librarian, as well as a 3D visualizer specializing in rendering and 3D modeling.