Modern houses. Modernism in architecture

Architecture is the thoughtful making of space”.

Louis Khan (American architect)

Modern architecture

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a number of architects all over the world began developing solutions to integrate the new achievements of the technological revolution within the elements of traditional architecture (e.g. classical or gothic). It was in fact a struggle between old and new, led by the most famous architects of the time: Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago, Victor Horta in Brussels, Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Otto Wagner in Vienna.

After the WW II, modernism became the dominant architectural style. During the same period, international style, branch of modernism born in 1920’s, used to stand out by construction of grandiose, monumental buildings. The characteristic element was the use of a limited number of materials, leading eventually to a minimalist aesthetics, quite standardized, the purpose of which was to avoid any ornament, favouring thus proportions and construction methods. Modern architects stopped regarding themselves as mere constructors: they became real artists and sculptors of society.

What is a modern house?

I think we had enough theory. Let us see, in practice, how we can differentiate a modern house among other architectural styles:

  • Absence of decorative elements and ornaments: Decorative moldings and elaborate trim are eliminated or greatly simplified, offering thus a clean aesthetic where materials meet in simple, well-executed joints
  • Modern materials and systems: Concrete block or steel columns are used as finishing materials, long-span steel trusses allow open column-free spaces. Radiant heating systems enhance human comfort.
  • New ways of using traditional materials: Materials such as wood, brick and stone are used in simplified ways, reflecting a modern aesthetic. Brick and stonework are simple, they lack ornaments, and they are used in rectilinear masses and planes. Traditional clapboard siding are replaced with simple vertical board cladding used in large, smooth planes.
  • Emphasis on rectangular forms, in horizontal and vertical lines: Houses are generally shaped like boxes, linked or independent. Materials are often used in well-defined planes and vertical forms juxtaposed against horizontal elements to create a spectacular effect.
  • Pointing out the natural aspect of materials: Wood is often stained rather than painted, in order to stand out its natural character. In many cases, exterior wood is also stained so that the texture and character of the wood can be expressed.


  • Low, horizontal, flat roofs, and many horizontal planes: Modern homes are usually built on generous sites, and thus many have to have meandering one-story plans.
  • Relationship between interior spaces and sites: Use of large glazed surfaces brings the building’s site into the house, taking advantage of overwhelming views and natural landscaping.
  • Emphasis on open, continuous interior spaces: Living spaces are no longer defined by walls, doors and hallways. Living, dining and kitchen spaces tend to flow together as part of one contiguous interior space, reflecting a more casual and relaxed way of life.
  • Generous use of glass and natural light: Windows are no longer openings to the outside, but large glazed surfaces from floor to ceiling, offering thus spectacular views and introducing natural light deep inside the house.
  • Sunlight and shading are used for energetic efficiency: The best modern homes are efficient. They are oriented to take advantage of nature’s gifts in order to provide solar heating during the winter, while long overhangs and recessed openings offer shading to keep homes cool in the summer.

Once these aspects acknowledged, you should know now, according to your life style and tastes, if you are looking for a modern house or for house belonging to a different architectural style. Anyway, you can find them all on our website.

Stay in touch as we are going to show you, in the following weeks, characteristics of all architectural styles you may find on


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