“Paradoxically, minimalism is the maximum use of space” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana. Minimal architecture is often misused and exploited by designers due to the unawareness of the trend. India is rich and famous for depicting and symbolizing its cultural and traditional heritage in architecture, for carving, structuring, and casting incarnate details into the building façade and interiors for ages. Minimal architecture is receiving acknowledgment and acceptance in many urban environments, shifting the tastes, styles, and trends of building design towards a more modern and urban architecture. From its inception in the early 20th century, many have enjoyed the appeal of the simple framework and elemental color palette over the glamour of the plush, intricate design. Over the years, through the process of design and architecture, minimal architecture has been through various stages of evolution. This architectural trend is based on the Japanese art of reductivism, which works on the principle of less is more. Minimalism architecture could be traced down to a few key architectural styles: Japanese Zen, Cubist designs, De Stijl, and Bauhaus in the 1920s. Each trend strives to keep things clean, simple, and stripped down to only the essentials—resulting in a clean, clutter-free, calming space.
Minimal Marvel – Church of Light
As the same suggests, the structure and building form design is elementary and basic, maximizing the functional use of space and planning aspects. In minimalism, the built form is the focal point of a building that lacks ornamentation and detailing. The visual impact is often created using lighting, structural elements , geometric shapes and lines. The most suitable example is ‘The Church of Light’ by Tadao Ando. The planning is simple and sorted with placement of only three large blocks on the site. Minimalism is attained by the use of simple materials such as concrete in exteriors and wood in exterior and facades, enhancing the simplicity and spirituality of the shrine, and connecting people spiritually. The depth and detailing are in the form of beams and rays of light, entering through the dark voids creating a high point for visual interest for the users. The building lacks ornamentation, except for the religious ‘Cross’ symbol on the east wall, pouring the sunshine of the rising sun into the premises. Otherwise, the church is simplistic and minimalistic having simple wall treatments and an angled roof. The building seems light-weighted to enhance spirituality, and outdoor relationship with the environment through the natural light.
The Nature’s building – Falling Water House
The careful and serene use of light and basic colors and materials provides a warm and calm ambiance, providing a hospitable environment for interiors. The use of very minimal or no detailing offers a different touch and look to a typical and traditional architecture of India. The use of wood in the interiors is one of the excellent and most celebrated features, it provides a warm and rusty feel. Moreover, the repetitive use of glass, not only maximizes the view but offers simplicity as well.
Considered one of the best designs of modern-day architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Falling Water’ house is one of the excellent examples of minimalism. Constructed on a natural rock, amid nature, the structural form draws attention which is in harmony with the stream of flowing water. The building uses calm colors, simple materials such as natural rocks in the façade, and wooden interiors. The architect has been simple yet creative in his ideologies, with the creation of terraces at different levels, improving the indoor and outdoor relationship. Natural sandstone and glass are fantastically used for the façade treatment for the organic appearance. This architectural marvel is indeed worthy of being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019.
Impacts of Minimalism
However, the structures and facades may look effortless and basic, but the built forms and materials offer a fascinating experience to the users. The minimalist architecture ensures an easy blend of various free-flowing spaces into each other. Chichu Museum, situated on the
Naoshima Island blends seamlessly into the external environment. The building is situated only at the underground level, therefore diminishing the use of visual boundaries. From a bird’s eye view, the only traces of Chichu’s existence are a few outlines of squares, rectangles, and a triangle. The user upon entering the premises is encountered with tall plain and solid walls, allowing the interesting play of shadows in the exteriors throughout the day. With a staircase leading to the subsequent levels, the building interiors are designed minimalistic with very few permanent exhibits, including a luminous space for Monet’s water lilies, and an alien-like throne room for Walter de Maria’s sculptures. Minimalism has pushed architects to be mindful of the structural form rather than focusing on detailing, which brought about a revolution in modern architecture. Structures nowadays complement the surroundings, using minimalistic façade materials and color palettes. This elegant and beautiful design trend has indeed celebrated the concept of ‘less is more’.
Takkar, G.K. (2023) Architecture Trends: Minimal Architecture
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