“Expressionism: Modern Architecture of 20th Century” – An Example Paper

An architectural style refers to a distinct construction method, usually characterized by attributes that make it unique. It may include elements such as form, construction method, the regional attributes and construction materials. The profession of architecture has grown tremendously, today. From the ancient days to the present moment, the architectural styles have gone through a massive transformation. A keen look at the various architectural strata reveals the extent of creativity and ingenuity that existed in the ancient times. Modern architect frequently relies upon the ancient architectural styles, whose design and functionality continue to inspire professional architects.

Expressionist architecture developed in Europe during the initial decades of the twentieth century. Expressionism was characterized by the early-modernist use of new materials, formal innovations and the unique massing of materials. Natural biomorphic forms, as well as new technological possibilities, occasioned by the mass production of glass, steel and bricks motivated this massing. Expressionism was rather gothic than classic. This gave rise to forms and shapes that were distinct from the other architectural forms at the time. This was because such forms and shapes were represented from the emotions of the architect. A revenant interest of expressionist architects involved the use of materials. Its purpose was to combine the materials in a structure to make it monolithic. The Einstein Tower in Potsdam, which was constructed by Erich Mandelsohn, is a notable permanent existing landmark of expressionism.

International architecture (style) was prevalent during the 1920s and the 1930s. It was more concerned with the symmetry and balance in architecture rather than the aesthetic and decorative elements. International architecture had its foundations in the “rational” use of contemporary building materials, the adherence to the principles of functional planning and the elimination of the traditional standards and ornament. Contrary to expressionist architecture, international architecture was principally an aesthetic style and not an issue of political statement. It viewed a building as a space enclosed by skeletal curtain walls, light and supported by slender piers. In Europe, several architects began to develop new architectural solutions aimed at integrating traditional models with new technological possibilities and social demands.

Abstract painting, sculpture, and the machine inspired the visual aesthetic of international style. In 1932, the Museum of Modern Art in New York made the United States a stronghold of international (modern) architecture. While technology had precluded the extensive use of concrete during the expressionist periods, modernism enjoyed the widespread use of concrete, steel, and glass. By the mid twentieth century, modern architecture became a valuable instrument for addressing the increasingly intricate building needs of the contemporary society. Established architectural firms such as Owings, Merrill, and Abramovitz and Skidmore played a key part in popularizing modern architecture globally after the Second World War. While expressionism and modernism had differences with respect to the philosophy of design, they had certain similarities. Both styles used steel and glass extensively. Even though the international style did not use bricks extensively, it did use it nonetheless. The different architectural styles have emerged from the history of certain societies. In most cases, a new style is often a rebellion against an extant one. For instance, expressionism was the predecessor of modernism. Styles usually spread to other places and develop in new ways as other regions invent new versions.