“Form ever follows function.” – Louis Sullivan
“Less is more.” – Mies van der Rohe
“Modern architecture is not a style, its an attitude.” – Marcel Breuer

These are the infamous quotes known and used by architects across the world. The ideologies behind modern architecture are centered on these statements.

Why everything is not 'modern architecture' - Sheet1
Modern Architecture_©Carsten Heyer

Modern architecture is a movement that started in the early first half of the twentieth century, to shape our building environment more efficiently, the idea was to construct buildings with the changing perspective of the world. These buildings would represent the new era of Modernism as the world witnessed the boom of science and technology. 

What exactly is Modern Architecture?

An architectural movement that advocates an approach towards new, innovative construction techniques, minimal building ornamentation, and the ideology of “form follows function” sums up Modern Architecture. It scraps the idea of Victorian and Gothic revival styles of ornamentation and replaces it with clean lines of the buildings with a minimal yet functional approach. The leap from Gothic style to Modern Architecture is gradual and the styles like Art Deco and Crafts movement act as a bridge between them. Modernism, an art movement, served as the inspiration for this architectural style. 

Now that we have established what Modern Architecture is, the question arises; 

Why everything is not Modern Architecture?

The main objective of Modern Architecture is a concept that prefers functionality of the space over everything. The buildings constructed during the initial phase of the movement; appeared clean looking, sharp, and limited to the material palette, some of the best examples are The Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright, Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, etc. These examples depict unique ideas but a simplistic approach to design, these structures are known all over the world because of their simplicity and the semblance that stands for modern architecture. 

Why everything is not 'modern architecture' - Sheet2
Fallingwater_©Jon Fisher
Why everything is not 'modern architecture' - Sheet2
Villa Savoye_©Renato Saboya

The foregoing are some of the key attributes of modern architecture:

– Open and defined floorplans.

– Combination of modern and traditional building materials

– Clean and minimal lines.

– Roof Overhangs

These are the features that differentiate modern buildings from the other types. The ideas were solid, decent, and feasible, causing the rapid growth of Modern Architecture in the 1930s. Although these innovative, emerging ideas fascinated architects, the general public did not react to them as one might have anticipated.

Here are a few explanations for why modern architecture is not prevalent:


These concepts and traits have a solid foundation, but their lack of individuality prevents us from seeing them everywhere. The open floor plans render the services of the users but at the same time, the placement of the windows and openings tends to be repetitive. Imagine being surrounded by buildings with only windows as their façade treatment, seems monotonous, doesn’t it?  

Even if justifiable rule books claim that adequate lighting provides a space significance, the light should still be relevant to the social background and the environment of the building.

Why everything is not 'modern architecture' - Sheet3
Repetion_©Laura Tancredi

Historic significance.

People, no matter divided by unseen borders have their culture, beliefs, and traditions with which they are acquainted since their birth. In modern buildings the emotional aspect remains absent, the void that connects the people to the building seems to be missing. This is one of the reasons why people dislike the idea of modern buildings. In respect to emotions, these buildings seem cold, sharp, and brutal when an individual is used to buildings with lighter colors, and lively features. Emotional connection brings life to the architecture, if people don’t relate to the place, they will not associate good emotions with it. 

Choice of Material.

Over the past few years, it has become apparent that there is a misperception that glass is the only contemporary material. Yes, glass is a modern and good material but it cant be proposed for every building. The social, geographic, and environmental context has a crucial influence on design, and innovative solutions and incorporation of these components should be used.

Why everything is not 'modern architecture' - Sheet4
Material Choice_©Melissa GriffinImage 5_Material Choice_©Melissa Griffin

Lack of dramatic Grandeur.

The developers seized the chance to invest in these monotonous structures when the functionalist approach was identified in a few buildings. This was their chance at low-cost functional buildings avoiding the grand, royal-looking features such as huge openings, ornamentations, variety of materials. Humans relate to various scales and behave in accordance with them, which can have a good impact on their activity mapping. However, as times change, the use of buildings is changing, which may suggest that these great elements are unnecessary.


This article does not intend to focus on the negatives of Modern Architecture, it was a great evolution at that time. The ideas and concepts have given architects new horizons to explore and learn. The architect’s language of expression can be their preferred style, but it’s important to constantly keep the end user and context in mind. The structures from various eras demonstrate how far we have come, serving as a reminder that the world is constantly changing. The people’s response towards Modern architecture has helped architects develop a style that consists of the positives of all the styles, that being contemporary architecture. Without Modern Architecture, ideas that promote open floor planning, minimal approach, and most fundamental of all ‘Form follows Function’ wouldn’t have taken hold.


Kuriakose, B. (2022) Failures of modern architecture, bennykuriakose. bennykuriakose. Available at: https://www.bennykuriakose.com/post/failures-of-modern-architecture (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Modern architecture: 5 characteristics of Modern Architecture – 2023 (no date) MasterClass. Available at: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/modern-architecture (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

ScottishArchitect (2022) Why do people hate modern architecture?, Home –. Available at: https://www.glasgowarchitecture.co.uk/why-do-people-hate-modern-architecture (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Traditional architecture vs modern architecture – what’s the difference? (2021) Create Beautiful 3D Designs. Available at: https://foyr.com/learn/traditional-architecture-v-s-modern-architecture/ (Accessed: January 12, 2023).

Why is the modern world so ugly? (no date) The School Of Life. Available at: https://www.theschooloflife.com/article/why-is-the-modern-world-so-ugly/ (Accessed: January 12, 2023).


Nirantari is an Architecture student, with an interest in Art and Architecture. She believes that art, architecture, and people have a peculiar relation and is trying to put that in words.