What is Contemporary Architecture?

Contemporary architecture often features dramatic lines and angles.
Contemporary architecture often features dramatic lines and angles.

Contemporary architecture is a form of construction that embodies the various styles of building designs stemming from a wide range of influences. Contemporary architecture cuts away from the modern architecture of the late twentieth century by including eco-friendly features and embracing all kinds of creativity. Aside from employing the different styles and influences, the contemporary architecture uses the latest technology and materials. One such technique is the Tube Structure, which is used to design buildings that are high-tech, stronger, and taller than most other buildings from previous generations. With the aid of modern design software and the use of techniques such as simulations and computer-aided designs, buildings can be constructed with high-level precision and speed. The design programs allow for three-dimension modeling of a structure before it is built.

Characteristics of Contemporary Architecture

One distinctive element of contemporary architecture is the expressiveness of form and design. The buildings incorporate innovative and creative designs which are meant to be noticed and appreciated. The aesthetic sense is very much emphasized in the design of structures. There is also a wide range of material combinations to bring out contrast or uniformity. A single building could be built using concrete, glass, aluminum screens and multiple other materials that may not be common in modern architecture buildings. The innovativeness includes asymmetric facades and crystal-like facets that change color depending on the orientation of the sun at different times of the day.

This form of architecture is dominant across the world and not only specific to Europe or the United States. In that sense, contemporary design is global, unlike modern architecture which was concentrated in Europe and the United States. Today, famous contemporary buildings are found in China such as the Shanghai Tower, Latin America, the Middle East such as the famed Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Sydney Opera house in Australia, CN Tower in Toronto, and many other buildings across the world.

Contemporary architects have a sense for sustainability. This is achieved through design of buildings that are energy efficient and that use recycled material for the most part of the construction process. Such buildings could be powered by solar panels, used as the roofing material. Most contemporary buildings have oversized windows which allow for maximum natural light to pass through. This not only increases the association with space but also improves airiness and minimizes air conditioning costs.

There is widespread use of reinforced concrete which can be made into any form imaginable to create buildings that are unusual and aesthetically appealing. Architects hope to achieve this design form while ensuring the whole project is economical and serves the purpose it intended.

Design Influences

Most elements of contemporary architecture are borrowed from the modern architecture movement of the early and mid-twentieth century. This includes clean lines and neatness. However, contemporary architecture allows for free-flowing form, creativity, and extensive use of curved lines. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is a classic example of contemporary architecture form. This building was designed by contemporary architect, Frank Gehry, and utilizes a lot of curvilinear styles to create the impression of moving. Limestone, glass, and titanium are used to bring out the unusual form of the structure while including the essential elements of a contemporary building such as natural light, recyclable material, and innovative design.


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