Making Sense of the Modern Movement

by Greg on September 27, 2019

modern types of architecture

‘Modern & Designer’ homes make up more than half (51%)1 of new build detached properties, but do we really understand what the term means? While popular home trends such as The Hamptons, Country and French Colonial have clear definitions, Modern is used to describe a number of styles that share common elements, but require specific considerations.

“Generally speaking, the modern trend features clean lines, confident shapes and minimal ornamentation. They are all rooted in the works of visionaries such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto, and out of institutions like the Bauhaus,” says architect and James Hardie ambassador, Joe Snell, who has worked with James Hardie to define six current contemporary home styles.

“There is a focus on form and function, but a number of different design trends such as coastal and Scandi have added to the style, each based on their own influences and principles. It’s important to make distinctions between these and understand the specifics of your preferred version of Modern to make it work,” adds Joe. Here he discusses the five Modern looks and how to get them:

MID CENTURY MODERN

mid century modern architecture

An influential example of Mid-Century Modern is Philip Johnson’s Glass House. This style is all about being connected to nature by using large expanses of glass and revealed structure, creating buildings that have simple silhouettes that are very aware of their surroundings.

To achieve this look it’s important to reveal how the building was constructed by exposing elements like steel beams and cladding boards, which need to be beautifully crafted. The shadow line of Stria cladding premium fibre cement boards can be used to add detail horizontally to add breadth.

MINIMALISM

minimalism architecture

It could be argued that Minimalism is the opposing stance to Mid-Century. While it ostensibly uses the same pared back design, the focus is more on looking within, and being at peace with oneself. The minimialism school of thought aims to remove distractions and has become popular in Japan for its alignment with the Zen philosophy of mindfulness and tranquillity.

Achieve the aesthetic by removing joins and lines with concrete floors and large panel cladding such as Matrix, as well as expanses of glass for natural lighting. Monochrome palates, with a focus on blank white spaces are essential. This can be accented with natural elements in a controlled manner, for example, a wooden table with minimal detailing and a simple finish works well, but avoid artificial colours and complex organic shapes.

MIXED MATERIALS

mixed materials architecture

A popular device to add variety to the look of a home, the mixed materials design has been used in many neighbourhoods to reduce the blandness of rows of identical homes. It can be hard to get right as there are a lot of elements to balance, so over-complication can be an issue here.

The key is to approach the property with one idea or story and stick to it. For example, it could be creating the entrance as the hero, or making the building appear broader or taller. By having a clear idea of your design goal, you avoid a cluttered and disorganised look.

I like to think of homes as a play between heavy and light components. Minimalism and Mid-Century often focus primarily on the repetition of a limited palate of materials across the whole home. Mixed materials can go either way, I generally suggest working with heavier materials such as masonry and brick at the base and graduate to lighter profiles as you go up. Stria Splayed boards have a larger bevelled edge to create more dramatic lines, while Axon can imitate vertical joint timber, and both are more durable and require less upkeep than traditional materials. These Premium Fibre Cement boards are also well suited to second floor additions and cantilevered extrusions, as they are light weight, making them easier to install on top of an existing building, while offering a range of profiles.

MODERN COASTAL

modern coastal architecture

The central themes of Modern are not constrained to metropolitan areas and Australia’s shorelines show how the trend can be combined with the coastal aesthetic. The key here is being true to both aspects, which means that this look has the biggest opportunity to create softer curved shapes.

While the on-trend Hamptons style incorporates beautiful detailing with eaves returns, balustrading and more, the Modern version remains simple and clean. The large expanses of macro detailing and clean shapes remain, but there is also a lean toward embodying the coast. This is done through the use of blues, greys and warm wooden tones.

One key component of both modern and Hamptons designs is Linea Weatherboard, which creates a similar shadow lines to timber boards but, like all Premium Fibre Cement cladding, stands up to the Aussie elements as it is resistant to flaking, warping or swelling and damage for moisture. This means you can create your vision and keep it longer without maintenance.

SCANDI BARN

scandi barn architecture

Another look that combines tradition with modernity and is well suited to Linea Weatherboards is the modern interpretation of the Scandinavian Barn. This style is typified by steeply pitched rooves, which were a necessity to stop snow collecting in the Scandinavian winters.

While many may think of light and bright colour palates for Scandi Barns, they have also have the potential for dark and brooding exteriors in greys and blacks with minimal window use. The basic tenants of the movement lend themselves to modern styles and include hooded windows and a strong diagrammatic house shape.

Whatever your modern aesthetic, it’s important to know the specifics of your look and how to achieve them. Generally speaking, the basics of clean lines, strong shapes, modern materials and simple colour palates remain the same, but it’s how you build from there that will bring life and personality into your home.

Find out how to get a modern look for your home at www.sycon.com.au.

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