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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

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Discuss the cultural and technical transformations that took place during early modern period and how
it helped in the development of modern architecture.

Term Paper for History of Architecture (AP131)

Mansi Jain
Roll Number-07816901611
Sushant School of Art and Architecture

The early modern period lies variously between 1350 and 1650, and its end
between 1559 and 1800 according to the authors of fifteenth century. The three-
century difference of opinion over when the period begins equals the length of the
period itself, as most of these historians understand it.It starts with the last
Europe's religious wars which opened a period of extreme political violence across
the continent, and coincided with a variety of other disruptions of Europeans' daily


PRINTING PRESS-century of printing, mainly the period from 1460 to 1480, when
printing presses went from rare to common.The knowledge was preserved and
History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013
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Capacity of printing to preserve knowledge and to allow the accumulation of
information changed the societyy. Ancient and Medieval scribes had faced
tremendous difficulties in preserving the knowledge that they already possessed,
which, despite their best efforts, inevitably grew more corrupted and fragmented
over time. With the establishment of printing presses, accumulation of knowledge
was for the first time possible. Rather than spending most of their energies
searching for scattered manuscripts and copying them, scholars could now focus
their efforts on revision of these texts and the gathering of new data. According to
Eisenstein, the shift to printing reversed the whole orientation of attitudes towards
learning. The passage of time no longer inevitably brought with it a lessening of
knowledge. Furthermore, at the new print shops, scholars, artisans and translators
from various nations and religions found themselves working together, and
cooperating in a new, more cosmopolitan environment which encouraged
By focusing on a fundamental shift in mentality, which came about due to a basic
change in communication and collective memory, intellectual transformations of the
early modern era.
The Industrial Revolution- 18th to 19th century, the period during which rural
societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Before the Industrial
Revolution (i.e. 1700s), manufacturing was done in homes, using hand tools or
basic machines. Industrialization marked a shift to powered machinery, factories
and mass production. The iron and textile industries, and the development of the
steam engine played central roles in the Industrial Revolution. Transportation,
communication and banking systems were also improved. Industrialization brought
an increased volume and variety of manufactured goods and improved standard of
living.It also resulted in better employment and living conditions for the poor and
working classes.
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World war 1(1914-1918)
Its Impact on modern period-due to the world war there was large scale
destruction. Therefore there was a need to build relentlessly.
The industrial revolution had already led to mass production, aware and rational
citizens. A sense of competitiveness also increased. The ideology of modernism had
several sources. One of the earliest was the English artist William Morris, whose
writings formed the basis for the arts and crafts movement. Morris advocated a
return to well-made, handcrafted goods instead of mass-produced, poor quality
machine-made items. In his famous statement, Have nothing in your house that
you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful, Morris outlined the
modern belief that utility was as important as beauty.

Modern era witnessed the following
machines in production of new materials- iron, steel, and sheet glass drove
the invention of new building techniques, pre-fabrication also started.
Elimination of historical ornaments
Inventive and fresh surface decoration
Expression of structure
Expression of buildings commercial purpose: FUNCTION
Thus modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and
an absence of applied decoration.
Gaining popularity in North America after the Second World War, architectural modernism was
adopted by many influential architects and architectural educators, and continued as a dominant
architectural style for institutional, corporate buildings, Railway stations, departmental stores,
offices, apartments, towers, factories, dams and airports into the 21st century. As the technology
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progressed the functions of spaces varied and increased.So it became an additional factor for the
need to build.
Industrialization was followed by urbanism which even more increased the building need.
Modern architecture developed as a result of social and technical revolutions, others see Modern
architecture as primarily driven by technological and engineering change.
In 1796, Shrewsbury mill owner Charles Bage first used his 'fireproof' design, which relied on cast
iron and brick with flag stone floors. Such construction greatly strengthened the structure of mills,
which enabled them to accommodate much bigger machines. Due to poor knowledge of iron's
properties as a construction material, a number of early mills collapsed. It was not until the early
1830s that Eaton Hodgkinson introduced the section beam, leading to widespread use of iron
construction. This kind of austere industrial architecture utterly transformed the landscape of
northern Britain, leading to the description of places like Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire as
"Dark satanic mills".
Development architects who majorly contributed to the development of the modernist movement
include Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Richard Weston,
Frank Lloyd Wright.

Louis Sullivan
"Form follows function", Louis Sullivan, meaning that the form of the building
should be a derivative of its function.
Louis Sullivan is known as "father of skyscrapers and modernism". For Sullivan,
functionalism meant the elimination of ornament so the building plainly expressed
its purpose, and the principle led to the idea of designing buildings from the inside
outwards, letting the essential structure dictate the form and therefore its external
appearance. Viennese architect Adolf Loos, following Sullivan, insisted that
functional objects should not be decorated; to do so was a waste of effort, material,
and capital. He wrote a manifesto entitled Ornament and Crime, in which he
argued that the avoidance of ornament was "a sign of spiritual strength." This essay
became one of the foundation texts for the modern movement.

One of the building done by him is the Wainwright Building (1890), ten-storied,
steel-skeleton structure that emphasizes verticality with, for the first time, an
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aesthetically effective shell. A major landmark in American architectural history, the
Wainwright building was hailed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as the first structure with
height triumphant.
Le Corbusier played an important role in development of modern architecture
because of his theory about buildings.
Corbusiers five points on new architecture-
1. Pilotis-The building plot is left to the garden.
2. Roof garden-For domestic purposes and vegetation.
3. Free fascade-the fascade is free from the structure and can be projected out
or in the floor slab.
4. Free plan-interior wall can be designed as per our requirement free from the
structure and each floor is independent.
5. Ribbon windows-to avoid mullions and maintain a continuity of the view.
It is observed that the principles defined by Corbusier for his spaces are highly
influenced by the early modern era that is the reason most of his buildings
resemble to each other just like factory made products as he believed all human
needs are the same.
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If houses were produced, mass produced like chassis, we would soon see forms
emerge that, while unexpected, were sounds, tenable, and an aesthetic would be
formulated with surprising precision
Le Corbusier creates standards. He believes that creating standards help produce
perfection. The standard is a necessity for order brought to bear on human labour
(Corbusier,pg. 181,towards a new architecture)He tried making architecture
universal .Corbusier focuses on a search for the new spirit creating a new
architecture because the technical changes in the early modern period gave him the
The house is a product necessary to man (Corbusier,pg. 182, towards a new
architecture). According to him all men have same needs
Corbusier believes that all men have same needs, which is one of the reasons he
stresses on making standard places.Corbusiers designs are machine driven as it
was the period of industrial revolution. He believed in mass production of house .
Corbusier said house is a machine, Villa Savoye is a clear example of his
inclinations towards machines. Its form resembles to that of a ship.
Mies Van Der Rohe-Visual expression of structure (as opposed previously to the
hiding of structural elements) , a visual emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines.
Designed skyscrapers of steel and glass which were new materials of the era.Used
glass relentlessly to bring outside in.
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The Glass house is a prototype,
a pure idea. Making analogy with
automobile industry, it is
possible to compare the Glass
house with a concept car.

THE WIENER WERKSTTTE (German for the "Vienna Workshop") also offered
important contributions to the development of modernism. Its founders, architect
Joseph Hoffman and painter Koloman Moser, formed this movement in 1903. It was
dedicated to developing high quality art and design to be brought into people's
daily life, a philosophy which reflected the influence of William Morris. Reacting
against historicism, the Wiener Werksttte employed simplified shapes, geometric
patterns, and minimal decoration. A great deal of attention was put on fine
craftsmanship. This followed the group's motto: Better to work ten days at one
piece than to manufacture ten pieces in one day. But by the 1920s, modern
designers began to embrace new technologies and the possibility of mass
production; the aesthetic of the machine then became a central theme in
modernism. Two figures in particular promoted the language of industry: Walter
Gropius and Le Corbusier.

Gropius was the leader of the Bauhaus, the school of art and architecture in
Germany. The Bauhaus revolutionized art training by combining the teaching of the
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pure arts with the study of crafts. Gropius aimed to unite art with technology, and
he educated a new generation of designers and architects to reject historical
precedents and adopt the ideology of modern industry. For the Bauhaus, Gropius
wrote the curriculum, designed the building, and he assembled its faculty.

Le Corbusier, probably the most influential modern architect, introduced a
fascination with the designs of engineers, such as grain silos, cruise ships, and
In the 1930s, many of the leading European modernists immigrated to the United
States; thus the theory and practice of Modernism became widespread. The
'tradition of the new', as Richard Weston called it, became the dominant mode of
progressive artists. What had begun as a cluster of loosely related artistic
movements scattered across Europe emerged as the dominant style of the 20th

Le Corbusier(1923), book by name of Towards a new architecture ISBN
Alex Benchemel book by name ofintellectual poloitics and cultural conflict
in the romantic period-
Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change:
Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe
Donald Hoffmann book by the name of Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and the

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