Modernist architecture is generally characterised by the simplification of form, and the absence of ornament from the structure and theme of a building. Modern architecture began at the turn of the 20th century, when efforts were made to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design, with the rapid technological advancement and the modernisation of society.
Architect Louis Sullivan's dictum ‘Form Follows Function’ is often quoted when discussing Modernist Architecture. This statement implies that the result of design should derive directly from its purpose. Visual expression of structure (as opposed to the hiding of structural elements), is often seen in the style, and the related concept of ‘Truth to materials’, meaning that the true nature or natural appearance of a material ought to be seen rather than concealed or altered to represent something else, is emphasised.
During the 1920s, the most important figures in Modern architecture established their reputations. The big three are commonly recognised as Le Corbusier in France, and Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Germany, all of whom trained under Peter Behrens.
Modernism maintains its influence on 21st century architectural, interior and furniture design, and is present in many South African designer’s work. The country’s natural beauty and open spaces lend itself very well to creating modern architectural spaces that invite nature indoors.