“Can we produce architecture today that is an architecture of events, the architecture of situations, and that no longer relies on a conventional perception of space?” – Bernard Khoury at the Architecture Days in Sarajevo
James Joyce’s use of language his unfathomable aspiration to speak all languages to all people is something that certainly inspires a lot of people; it brings about a feeling of seamless communication. Architecture is a medium through which humans bring that chimera into physical form; a medium of communication with not only other people and the environment surrounding it but also with the future; orating the tidings of the past into the future after its creators have passed.
Generally speaking, contemporary architecture can be considered to be the architecture of the present day. When speaking about architecture, it’s typical to classify different sorts of architecture into different architectural “movements.”These movements are almost all linked to a particular historical period. Since contemporary architecture is not an architectural movement, it is not subject to any constraint. It is not a school of thought. It’s an overarching ideology concerned with architecture that reflects the opinions and values of the present and aims to break away from the past.
Contemporary architecture is based on a principle that is shared by all those who practice it: the desire and the will to design and build things that are different from what was done in the past and what is usually done today. Contemporary architecture aims to break away from the processes and ways of thinking that have become standard. It is innovative.
Most elements of contemporary architecture are borrowed from the modern architecture movement of the early and mid-twentieth century. This includes clean lines and neatness. However, contemporary architecture allows for free-flowing form, creativity, and extensive use of curved lines. Contemporary edifice determines itself through its expressiveness of form and design.
Contemporary architecture is, by nature, unexpected and inventive. This inclination to abandon the norm drives this style more than any specific visual trait. It typically features the use of unconventional building materials or the use of industrial materials like glass, metal, concrete, exposed brick in a domestic space. These materials offer a shock of minimalism that also creates warmth.
Bright open interiors
Larger and more plentiful windows are also a characteristic of contemporary architecture. Multiple openings and their uncommon positioning, panoramic windows, window walls, and skylights have all entered the playing field. One of the consequences of this kind of fenestration, beyond creating spectacular views, is that it makes full use of the sunlight: first of all as natural lighting, and secondly, to take advantage of passive solar heating. Views may dictate the placement of windows or walls. The direction of the sunrise and sunset may influence the placement of bedrooms, where solar panels are and how external space is utilized for recreation.
Open floor plans
As the name suggests, contemporary design tries to innovate and evolve with changing trends and ideas. Having a single living space allows for natural light to penetrate into all the areas. The flexibility of the open floor plan allows one to mould their setting with varying situations and needs, in turn, creating a space that can constantly evolve into the space that is needed. This also creates a sense of unity between the various spaces in the structure. Sometimes less truly is more.
Composition of Volumes
The use of curved lines, rounded spaces and a divergence from the dominance of the straight line characterize contemporary architecture. Clean lines, open spaces and a lack of fuss and ornament are the hallmarks of contemporary architecture. In contemporary architecture, one sees building with rounded shapes. Curves usually initiate a feeling of free flow meandering routes which give rise to endless possibilities in terms of design. When contemporary architecture does make use of straight lines, meaning that the unit of volume is a cube, it attempts to assemble these cubes in surprising ways so as to create a distinctive composition of volumes.
Harmony with nature
Another popular and distinct feature of contemporary architecture is the structure’s relationship to the natural world. Contemporary architecture frequently hinges on the desire to create harmony between structure and nature. The prominent use of large glass walls allows boundaries between indoors and outdoors to blur, while overhanging roofs push the architecture into the outdoor realm, creating a seamless sensibility that makes it seem as though the building belongs there. Clerestory windows, skylights and large windows higher than the head offer light and a feeling of openness to the outside world, which increases a connection with nature.
The purpose is not only to protect the surroundings from disturbance but to turn them into one of the architectural elements that give the structure its own special character. Sustainability Rather than ornate dwellings that use resources that are expensive to produce and damage the environment, contemporary architects favour the use of materials like concrete, metal, sustainable wood and often reclaimed existing material for building. In keeping with the current awareness of being socially and ecologically sensitive.
Contemporary architecture as a whole cannot be assembled into a certain type or genre of forms. It keeps growing with the evolution of design and even though contemporary designs showcase heavy influences of different movements of architecture, it always keeps evolving from them and breaks free from the previous; maybe even the elements mentioned above!
Just like Frank Gehry once said, “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”
Lover of yoga, design and all things nice, Khushita Waghle is an architectural student from Mumbai and is on a quest to conquer nations by travelling to faraway lands and penning down her experiences for the world to read!