Whether you know it or not, you’ve already seen an international-style home. These buildings look impressively modern, but their concept has stood the test of time. We have admired the power of International Architecture for four decades.
With this in mind, we decided to take a thorough look at what makes these structures so unique. Read on to learn more about the history of this architectural movement, as well as for an explanation of some of the defining features of the buildings. By the end of this article, you will know for sure whether you are a fan of the international style or not.
History of the International Style House
Like most architectural styles, houses in the international style can be considered a rejection of the trends of its time. During the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the focus was on eclectic buildings that housed a mix of decorative elements from different architectural periods. Architects of the time began to look for ways to create less decorative and more utilitarian designs.
As luck would have it, at the same time, the industrial revolution brought a huge number of new building materials, such as mass production iron and steel. With these materials, architects such as Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and J. J. P. Oud were able to create structures whose shape and aesthetics were determined by the desire to push the boundaries of architecture rather than decoration.
With the advent of World War II, the international style came to the United States with its architects, who hoped to escape persecution. There it remained the dominant architectural style until the 1970s when architects began to be frustrated by the” square ” appearance of the international style.
What makes the international style so unique?
The difference between the international style house and many other types of architecture that we will talk about in our series “what classifies a house style” is that only a small percentage of these buildings are residential houses. In general, these buildings are used for commercial purposes. If we had to think of a type of building synonymous with international-style architecture, it would be the American skyscraper.
With this in mind, some famous international-style buildings include:
The World Trade Center (New York, New York)
The Museum of Modern Art (New York, New York)
Willis Tower (Chicago, IL)
Villa Savoye (Poissy, France)
The Design Museum (London, England)
Glaspaleis (Heerlen, The Netherlands)
Defining the features of international style houses
Because international-style houses are so uniform in their design, it is especially crucial to examine the defining features that connect them. With these houses, there is little decoration to speak of, so most similarities go by their shape. Below is a list of identification features:
Utilitarian materials such as concrete, steel and glass
Smooth and non-textured surfaces
A” weightless ” quality, as if the pieces are floating
One or more stories
Open floor plans
Continuation of utilitarian materials (for example, concrete floors)
Large bay windows