Minimalism has shaped our buildings for over a century. Rejecting ornament and embracing new materials, minimalist architecture focused on rational use and function. It’s all about achieving better designs with simplicity – like the simplicity of form, shape, materiality, detail, and color. The minimalist design shows careful restraint to get a place of clarity. It talks about the philosophy of “Less is more” and minimalist facades are an illustration of the same. The use of simple continuous exterior cladding that can easily provide visual appeal and articulation revealing the physical characteristics of the materials and their texture with simple detailing that is devoid of decoration are classified as minimalist facades. 

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Minimalistic Facades ©

1. Levensstrijdweg, Netherlands 

Rink Tilanus designed Levensstrijdweg, an office whose walls are adorned by rough concrete for it to blend into a nature-reserve setting in Zierikzee, the Netherlands. The building facilitates the new regional quarters for the Dutch society for the preservation of nature. The design was inspired by the character of its natural surroundings. A concrete aggregate containing foam glass – a grainy, low carbon material offers a distinctive aesthetic quality.

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Levensstrijdweg ©

2. Falling Water House, Pennsylvania

The Falling Water House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, redefined the relationship between man, architecture and nature. Wright was inspired by Japanese Architecture and hence, the house took on a “definite masonry form” that related to the site. The exterior imposes a strong horizontal brick pattern made of locally sourced sandstone with long terraces. The use of a limited color palette blends the house with its surroundings. 

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Falling Water House ©

3. Barcelona Pavilion, Spain

The Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Mies van der Rohe, became the display of architecture’s modern movement to the world. An elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural material is what makes this a standout project. A separation from context by a raised travertine plinth creates an atmospheric and experiential effect that dissolves all consciousness of the surrounding city.

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Barcelona Pavilion ©

4. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

The Museum of Islamic Art, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, reflects the full vitality, complexity, and diversity of the arts of the Islamic World. He was inspired by the 13th Century sabil (ablutions fountain) of the Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Egypt. It is built of fine materials such as cream-colored Magny and Chamesson limestone from France, architectural concrete from Qatar, and Jet Mist granite from the United States.

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Museum of Islamic Art ©

5. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, United States

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, has a simple geometry, incorporation of the natural environment, and minimal material selections. It is constructed with concrete, glass, steel, aluminum, and granite which creates a beautiful reflection in the surrounding pond. The museum poses a striking presence of modern art through its pure design.

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Modern Art Museum ©

6. Niemeyer Center, Spain

The Niemeyer Center, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, is an open door to culture in all its forms, traditions, and styles. It was created as a focal point to attract talent, knowledge, and creativity. It is not only designed to be a gateway for the world’s best culture but also a producer of contents.

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Neimeyer Canter ©

7. New Art Museum, New York

The New Art Museum, designed by SANAA, is a priceless building with a clear concept and strong impact. Boxes are stacked one on another in different sizes leading to dynamicity and an attractive shape blending into the shape of the surroundings. A layer of anodized aluminum mesh on top of white walls creates the external façade.

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New Art Museum ©

8. Glass House, New Canaan

The Glass House, designed by Philip Johnson, is considered one of the first most brilliant works of modern architecture. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, the Glass House has the perfect proportions and is one of the most elegant looking houses. The clear glass panels create lively reflections of the surrounding trees and people walking inside and outside the house. The dwelling’s transparency nearly challenges the conventional definition of domesticity. 

Glass House, New Canaan
Glass House ©

9. Heydar Aliyev Center, Azerbaijan

 Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is the primary building for the nation’s cultural programs that expresses the sensibilities of Azeri culture. The design establishes a fluid relationship between the building’s interior and its surrounding plaza. The Center primarily consists of two systems: a concrete structure combined with a space frame system.

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Heydar Aliyev Center ©

10. Twin Megaphones, Tokyo

Twin Megaphones, designed by Atelier Tekuto, is a single-family residence which explored the creative process of designing with the family to understand their present and future needs. The structure consists of two trapezoidal volumes which are offset in terms of both plan and elevation and connected by a bridge.

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Twin Megaphones ©

11. Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre, Japan

Fuji World Heritage Centre, designed by Shigeru Ban, is a museum and visitor center shaped like an inverted mountain. The conic volume turned upside down reflects in a large pool like the mountain mirrors in the sea. The construction is clad in a wooden lattice made from Mount Fuji’s cypresses to further reinforce the symbolic relationship.

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Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre ©

12. The Design Museum of London, London

The Design Museum of London designed OMA + Allies and Morrison + John Pawson, is a grade II listed modern building that was retained by the architects and they carried out some refurbishing and renovation works. The facades were completely replaced to fulfill contemporary technical building standards. The glazing was redesigned and they held onto the pattern of the fenestration with the blue-glass appearance.  

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The Design Museum ©

13. Louvre Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by the Pritzker- Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, is a museum-city in the sea covered by a vast dome. Nouvel sought inspiration from the traditional Arabic architectural culture. The 8-layered dome is a geometric marvel allowing light to penetrate through the layers and creating a cinematic rain of light effect. This has proved to be one of the most innovative and challenging museum projects built in recent times.

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Louvre Abu Dhabi ©

14. America’s Cup Building, Spain

America’s Cup Building, designed by architect David Chipperfield, not only provides a central base for all of America’s Cup team and sponsors but also functions as a venue from which the public can view the offshore racing. A series of elevated public spectator decks overlook the port. White painted steel trims the edges of the concrete structure and the ceiling is constructed of white metal panels.

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America’s Cup Building ©

15. Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, United States

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, designed by the Swiss Architect Mario Botta, is a cube-shaped building that is hollow inside to offer an outdoor public courtyard that is outlined by the plastic volumes at the back. A terra-cotta exterior cladding provides the museum an elegant simplicity.

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Bechtler Museum of Modern Art ©

Simran Bajaj is a Mumbai – based architect. She graduated recently in 2019, worked for a while and is pursuing an MBA now. She is a vibrant girl who loves narrating through her writing. Architecture is her passion but writing makes her feel stronger.