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Early Modernism

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Early modernism is a theoretical concept that is closely related to architectural evolution. This entails the evolution of modern architectural structures through the influence of political and social revolution. Early modernism was also influenced by engineering development and technological enhancements. Industrial revolution made easy to access new materials that could be used for building. Materials like steel, iron, and glass were made available through industrial revolution. This led to building techniques and changing into more modernized techniques. Some of the designs that came as a result of modernism include: the fireproof chiefly made of brick and cast iron, which made mills more stable due to the strength durability of the materials. Skyscraper made from Steel frame was also developed during the same period, around 1890.

Historical Background of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier

Frank Lloyd Wright influenced most of architects in Europe. He also influenced individuals like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. His work was based on organic architecture, which he thought made life natural. He left for the United States since he had conflicting ideas with his fellow architects, and more so, they had stolen some ideas from him. Although they thought Wright’s architectural skills would be wasted in the US, he became immensely successful and helped America as a state in embracing modernism in the 1930s. Some of the buildings he contributed to the architecture include Larkin Building and Oak Park.

Le Corbusier from France also contributed to early modernism. Compared to Wright, he was also an accomplished writer in addition to his virtuoso skills in design and architecture. He designed buildings in America, Europe, and India. His main agenda was to improve the living conditions in cities that were overly crowded. He was the founder of studies on design related to high modernism.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Architectural Theory

His theory of architecture involves simplicity of art work that is of exceptional quality. According to his opinion on how the style of the house should be developed, houses should vary in their styles just the same way the individuals have different tastes. Therefore, for his theoretical framework, he believes in a style that is environmentally friendly to the user. The house should also be in harmony with nature through its shape and its site. The color should also be chosen well to be related to earth color like green and gray. He also advocates for the use of beautiful and friendly building materials like brick, plaster, wood or stone in constructing and designing of a house (Langmead 208).


This movement was a derivative from Cubanism. The key subjects involved in it included objects that are common, such as studio, café table, machine shops, bottles, guitars, and pipes. These items were represented in a form that was more natural and was expressing the modern machine age; but in purism, the decorative and abstractive approach was never included, which was mainly used by Cubanism. Purism was an evolutionary perfection, which involved items like furniture of thonet bentwood (Langmead 208).

Influence on Prairie School

Wright was the leader of prairie school. Since it was his idea to start the school, Wright brought together the architects who were based in Chicago metropolitan to contribute to the unique style that Americans would appreciate as being original. His architectural designs dominated buildings that were put up in this school. The school was developed through the idea of modern houses that Wright built based on the prairie style. The prairie style is believed to be complementary to the land found in Chicago. The architectural structures of most of these buildings include sloping roofs that are low and shallow with sky lines that are clean. The chimneys are suppressed, while all the terraces are built using materials that are unfinished. The windows in his style are low and long, which allows an individual to relate nature and the interior of his building style (Wright 56).

Organic Architecture

His architectural works were mainly to bring harmony between nature and the built environment. The buildings, surroundings of the buildings, and even the furnishing are in harmony with the natural environment. The motifs, materials, and principles that govern organic architecture should be in harmony with nature. The designs that are used to build, according to Wright, should be like an organism development. The geometries of his buildings brought out a theme and mood that is more central. All the surroundings of his buildings related to one another, a sign of symbiotic relationship with nature (Wright 56).

Influence of Japanese on Frank Lloyds’ Architecture

Wright’s architectural style and design was also inspired by the culture and art that the Japanese have. He visited Japan and preserved most of the inspirations he had gotten from the artistic designs he encountered in Japan. He did this by taking photographs of what he regarded visually powerful. This is a sign of his interest in the way the prints composition influenced most of the Japanese buildings. His interest was in the less known temples and buildings, as opposed to the famous ones, which was a sign of his interest in developing the designs. A good example of a temple he built using the same elements after his return from Japan is the Unity temple. He adapted the horizontal layout that the Japanese buildings had, which he thought to be related to his ambitions in architecture, which involved horizontality, monumentality, and simplicity. The photographs inspired architectural structures even after he left Japan (Sigur 63).

Le Corbusier

Architectural Theory

His main interest was in the invisible involved in architecture. In a major way, his main aim was to improve most of housing for those individuals who were living in poverty. Some of the invisible he involved in his theory in architecture were discipline and control. According to him, any problem that comes up in a house is related to epoch. He believed that values were prominent in any building construction. The modern buildings, therefore, had to be used so that human wants and needs were met. He erected skyscrapers that were made of glass and also erected steel buildings. He also considered the right environment for workers in factories through proper architectures (Mallgrave 267).

Universal Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris In 1925

Some of his exhibited works, such as Esprit Nouveau, for example, which was a pavilion, made a break through, since they attracted so many attention due to the theme of modernism they had. During this exhibition, he also exhibited Plan Voisin, which is a representative of rectangular apartments that were low and that were to replace some of the key buildings in Paris.  The pavilion was successful and was used in Paris (Mallgrave 267).

Modular System

The modular system, according to Le Corbusier, was aimed to reconcile beauty and what human being termed useful. According to the modular system, some of his proposals were based on the idea that the engineers, architects, and designers would find it easy in production of commodious and more delightful forms. He believed that this system would rarely be rejected. This system involves incorporation of mathematics with human structures. The system represents the turning point of most architectural history, while also providing the failures that may result from the system. The system focuses on the human body and improves some basic architectural structures (Ballantyne 224).

Urban Planning

In his urban planning scheme, he included the idea that most individuals preferred staying in the suburb regions when compared to the city. So his plans for the urban area involved replacing of the dwellings in the city with business centers. According to him, centers are preferable for commercial activities and should have two residential belts. One of the residential regions should be block dwellings, while the other should have an outer garden city. To accomplish this, he believed that the buildings in the entire town had to be brought down (Ballantyne 224).

The Five Points of a New Architecture

First, he believed that a structure had to be uprooted from the ground; the ground should have concrete steels for reinforcement, a concept he called pilotis. After pilotis, free and non-supporting walls could be put as per the architectures desire. He also advocated for the idea of open floors so that the space during building could easily be divided into rooms. The windows constructed were to give at least a view of the yard. His final idea was the roof garden, which would easily compensate the area that is green and taken by building by using a roof that supported green matter (Mallgrave 267).

His Influence on Other Architectural and Design Movements

He influenced the way most individuals responded to the housing that could accommodate many individuals during the crisis in urban housing. The lower class and those living in poverty had their lives improved by these architectural forms that were modernized. His Paris pavilion idea was adapted by the city, and most of the structures were put in relation to it. Different paths to be used for human movement and vehicles were also adopted. In Britain, his architectural design of high-rise housing has been adopted. Also, the large shopping centers as well as the hospitals used this style. These structures all adopted his concrete precast material. The Phillips pavilion also influenced many modern architects to incorporate the building structure into their buildings. The towers that have been encased entirely with glass are also a brainchild of Le Corbusier. Liverpool design Academy was built from his modern style of architecture as well (Moos and Heer 337).


Early modernism as concept shows the way most of the architectural designs evolved with the effort from many theorists, like Le Corbusier and Frank Wright. It was enhanced by the technological and engineering developments that continuously came up. Industrial revolution made it easy to access the new materials that were considered modern. These, new, modern materials can be evidenced in some of the architectural works; thus, Wright did like concrete housing and used the glass in construction, which was a new concept of framing. The building techniques were, therefore, improved through the use of these new materials. Both of the theorists discussed above greatly contributed to early modernism by their new ideas for the betterment of the structures that existed at the time. Their ideas were well received in most cases and adopted by cities and towns.

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