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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Modernism and the Wolf House

Modern architecture deals with the simplicity of the form. It reduces the building into geometric forms that reveal the true structure. This style of architecture began in the late 19th century and early 20th century where the industrial revolution had taken place. At this time, many different resources were available to architects because many industries were growing. Materials such as steel, iron, and glass were often used in this period and pushed the architects to communicate through materials.

Crystal Palace- A prime example of early usage of glass and steel construction

Manufacturing of steel during the industrial revolution

In modern architecture, it was believed that materials of a building should not be hidden. Instead, it should be glorified and portray the essence of the building. “Truth to materials” was a phrase that used around the turn of the 20th century to help convey this idea. Another principle that belonged to modern architecture was the lack of ornamentation. Function was key when it came to designing modern buildings and it was believed that decorations did not help with the design of the building-- let alone the idea of simplicity.

"Form follows function"-- Mies Van der Rohe

Glass, specifically, was heavily relied upon during this movement. Not only due to the rapidly growing technology, but also because it encouraged the idea of exposure of the structure. It was common for modern buildings to have large expanses of glass. This was used to create a relationship between the inside and  outside space. 
Architects, especially Mies Van der Rohe believed in this concept and it is evident throughout his projects.  Having a steel structure along with glass panels that reveal all, Mies’ Farnsworth House is a prime example of modern architecture. The essence of the building is captured and nothing is concealed.

The openness of the Farnsworth House

Along with Mies, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright helped pushed this influential movement. Breaking from the traditional Victorian style, this new way of designing was revolutionary. In places such as North America, the spread of modernism was evident especially in commercial buildings. Steel and glass skyscrapers started to fill skylines of major cities such as Chicago and New York. In Europe, institutions such as Bauhaus significantly drove modernism in Europe. Today, architecture is in a place where it is still impacted by modernism. In fact, it has involved into postmodernism in the 1970s.


Modern influences on the Wolf House:

By analyzing Myer’s Wolf House, is it evident that it was created with a strong modern influence. From the assembly of geometric forms to the materials used, the Wolf House is a good example of a modern infill house. The main materials used in the construction were steel, glass, and aluminum sheets. These materials are assembled in a method to reveal and expose the steel structure of the house, without ornamentation. By this, Myers has expressed the machine feel of the house. Furthermore, he exposed the ductwork to further convey the industrial style.

The glass helps create the connection between the inside and the 
outside space, also revealing the exposed ductwork

The steel columns not only elevate the house but also emphasizes
the importance of vertical and horizontal lines

There is also an obvious emphasis of horizontal and vertical lines through the use of steel studs that run up and down the facades, the columns that elevate the house and the aluminum panels. The use of glass and the courtyard really helps show the relationship between the interior space and the beautiful ravine environment. Therefore, this house also reflects the modernism goal of breaking out of the traditional style of housing.

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