‘Contemporary Architecture’ is a new fancy in this ever-changing field. Right from justifying your weird design before the unsympathetic jurors, to star architects throwing a design on paper very uncommon in its design, Contemporary has found its way!

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Crumpled paper and Frank Ghery (the Simpsons) ©www.pinterest.co.uk

An ever-satisfying definition of Contemporary Architecture is a long dream. Google refers to it as, “Contemporary architecture is the architecture of the 21st century. No single style is dominant; contemporary architects are working in several different styles, from postmodernism and high-tech architecture to highly conceptual and expressive forms and designs, resembling sculpture on an enormous scale.” This still doesn’t seem to sum-up the sublime nature of Contemporary architecture.

So, what is contemporary architecture then? It’s difficult to put it up in precise words.

So let’s play it reverse and understand what all contemporary architecture isn’t; 10 Myths about Contemporary Architecture.

1. Contemporary Architecture isn’t ‘MODERN ARCHITECTURE’.

Contemporary is often misunderstood as Modern architecture. The term ‘Modern Architecture’ ironically is a style marked by the late 1950s, whereas Contemporary is an on-going trend. Irrespective of the era, the design philosophies vary on a broad scale. You can correlate them but can’t consider both of the terminologies as the ‘same thing’. There’s a contrast between ‘modern and ‘Modern’. So, next time when you spot an imbecile misinterpreting them, enlighten.

2. It isn’t ‘just’ about the Parametric!

Another huge misconception is regarding Contemporary as ‘parametric’. Yes, parametric is a way of expressing Contemporary style, but it just isn’t all about the curvaceous strokes rising from the ground.

3. Tacky glass + metal = Contemporary design

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London skyscrapers: The Shard and One Blackfriars ©www.theguardian.com

Wish there was a definitive formula in designing, glad there isn’t. We’re often stuck between balancing the facade and energy efficiency of the building. Sticking glass and wrapping metal isn’t the only way to Contemporary. There are always plenty of sustainable options.

(Cleaning of the glass is expensive, isn’t it?)

4. ‘ICONIC ARCHITECTURE’ is ‘Identity theft’!

Architecture serves a lot of purposes, and they are mostly irreconcilable. Contemporary architects have impacted negatively on the definition of the ‘iconism’, where the purpose of design, context, and micro-climate is lost in making the structure an ‘eye candy’. Structure loses its original identity and masks a contrary one. (‘Identity theft is not a joke, Jim! Millions of families suffer every year!’)

5. Is Contemporary a style?

Contemporary is a style that has no fixed style! It is a playlist of all genres on shuffle!

6. Did someone say religious?

10 Myths about contemporary architecture - Sheet3
Church of San Giovanni Battista by architect Mario Botta ©design-milk.com

Often all ted talks and the most cited articles talk about contemporary design concerning art buildings or residential colonies. But hold on, recent religious structures apart from the theological beliefs are exquisite examples of contemporary work as well! They would boggle your sense apart from philosophical belief because, for us architects, god lies in the details.

7. Only Contemporary is acceptable. 

Urbanization is taking a toll on the city’s future. While Contemporary has been only dealing with the urban context, traditional is considered old school. Thus, Contemporary has stereotyped our sense of modernization quite partially.

8. Contemporary and (or) Green building?

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Hearst Tower by Norman Foster ©www.archdaily.com

We might misinterpret the greenness of extreme contemporary buildings, however, we needn’t worry. One can easily achieve it by:

  • Structure design efficiency.
  • Energy efficiency.
  • Water efficiency.
  • Materials efficiency.
  • Indoor environmental quality enhancement.
  • Operations and maintenance optimization.
  • Waste reduction. (google)

Architectural style doesn’t matter, the way you design it, does!

9. Ornamentation doesn’t exist or does it?

Different from the traditional style, ornamentation found its way into Contemporary. Ornamentation is often animated as carved pediment or designed entablature or even detailed cornice. However, Contemporary ornamentation defies our concept of ornamentation and establishes its identity into the modern era too. These often act as part of a facade rather than something applied over it. With modern metal carved facades for better design efficiency or weird glass decoration, all is part and parcel of ornamentation!

10. Contemporary makes sense, just not enough!

With ample amounts of money put into the construction and paying fees to architects, clients’ briefs often change over time. Rather than functionality, the appeal starts making sense, and right then, everything else doesn’t. Usually, other than the facade the building doesn’t have much left to offer the user. And it isn’t a bad thing either. I mean, if you look closely, nothing around you makes sense either!

Some of the above are myth breakers and the rest just extension of our common sense. Perfection in designing is quite difficult, but avoiding mistakes isn’t. So, if all these conceptions aren’t Contemporary, what is it then? It is a way of putting our subjective sense of Utopia in reality. On an endnote, Contemporary Architecture is much more than what we know about it. But again, isn’t everything else too?

Sharayu Wadekar
Author

Sharayu, name of a holy river siding edge of Ayodhya is unknown to many yet exists with significant gravity. A metaphor to this fact is conscious architecture.Being a third-year architecture student pursuing an interest in writing, reading, cosmology and mythology, she aims to augment awareness for the same.

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