What Characteristics Identify Early Modern Architecture: Explained

Hello architecture enthusiasts! As an architect and home design lover, I’m always fascinated by the different styles and characteristics that define the world of architecture. Today, I want to dive into the early modern architecture movement and discuss the key characteristics that identify this influential style.

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Understanding Early Modern Architecture

Early modern architecture emerged in the early 20th century and was a departure from the traditional architectural styles that dominated previous centuries. It was a movement that sought to break free from the confines of historical influences and embrace innovation, functionality, and a spirit of experimentation.

Key Characteristics of Early Modern Architecture

When discussing the characteristics of early modern architecture, it’s important to consider the broad range of sub-styles within this movement. From the striking simplicity of Bauhaus to the organic forms of Prairie Style, early modern architecture features several distinguishing characteristics:

1. Simplified Forms and Clean Lines

Simplified forms and clean lines

Early modern architecture rejects ornate and intricate detailing in favor of simplified forms and clean lines. This emphasis on simplicity creates timeless and elegant structures that withstand the test of time.

2. Emphasis on Functionality

Emphasis on functionality

Early modern architects prioritize functionality over unnecessary embellishments. Spaces are designed to serve its intended purpose efficiently and effectively, promoting a seamless interaction between the inhabitants and the built environment.

3. Open Floor Plans

Open floor plans

Open floor plans define many early modern architectural designs. Walls and partitions are minimized, allowing for flowing spaces and an abundance of natural light. This concept fosters a sense of spaciousness and promotes a harmonious connection between different areas of the building.

4. Innovation in Materials

Early modern architects experimented with new materials that reflected the industrial advancements of the time. Steel, concrete, and glass became integral components in the construction process, allowing for a more efficient and cost-effective approach to building design.

5. Integration with the Surrounding Environment

Early modern architecture aspired to harmonize with nature and integrate seamlessly into its surroundings. Designs embraced the use of natural materials, incorporated green spaces within the building, and maximized natural lighting and ventilation.

Prairie Style Architecture: A Key Sub-Style of Early Modern Architecture

One sub-style that embodies the principles of early modern architecture is Prairie Style. This architectural movement was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

A notable characteristic of Prairie Style architecture is its emphasis on horizontal lines and low-pitched roofs. These features aim to mimic the expansive prairies of the Midwest, where the movement originated.

Prairie Style architecture also promotes an integration between the built environment and the natural landscape. The use of organic materials and the incorporation of outdoor living spaces blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors.

Here’s an excellent video that provides a visual insight into Prairie Style architecture:


What is Contemporary Architecture?

Before wrapping up, let’s touch on another related architectural term – contemporary architecture. In essence, contemporary architecture refers to the architecture of the present day. It encompasses a wide array of styles, influences, and construction techniques.

Characteristics of contemporary architecture:

– Innovative and experimental designs
– Utilization of sustainable and eco-friendly materials
– Integration of smart technology and automation
– Emphasis on flexibility and adaptability
– Utilization of natural light and open spaces

Contemporary architecture constantly evolves and responds to the needs of modern society, reflecting the current trends, technological advancements, and cultural influences.


Early modern architecture ushered in a paradigm shift in the world of architecture. Its emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and innovation laid the foundation for future design principles. Followed by influential movements like Bauhaus and Prairie Style, early modern architecture continues to inspire contemporary architects today.

Whether you appreciate the clean lines of the International Style or the organic forms of Prairie Style, early modern architecture sets a precedent for innovative and sustainable architectural design.

Remember, when exploring the world of architecture, always keep an eye out for the unique characteristics that define each style, as it adds layers of meaning and richness to the built environment around us.