Everything You Need to Know About Mid-Century Modern Architecture!
“Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins”. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the one who stated this. However, it could have been easily said by any other giant in the architecture scene. Whether we like it or not, architecture is part of our daily lives, making it impossible to run away from this man-made wonder. Since the beginning, we felt the need to take cover and create a place to call our own, a place of comfort. This evolved into an actual art form and nowadays we are lucky enough to witness some of the biggest architectural pieces of modern time. We feel so passionately about this subject that today we are going to tell you everything you need to know about mid-century modern architecture!
Architecture is and has always been a reflection of the times we are living in. Not only because of the materials that we use in the construction work but also because the lines, shapes, and dimensions keep changing, trying to adapt to our ever-evolving world. Just like two or three hundred years ago we used to build extremely high gothic buildings trying to reach God, during the mid-twenty century, architects were trying to reach something new, something different. The great architects of the 1940s and 1950s believed their forward-looking style could be a vehicle for social change to create a better society. In fact – fun fact – it was during this time that the public garages started to appear, trying to mirror that social change.
Europe was where it all began, in the north, where Scandinavian furniture also first saw the light of day. Architects such as Eero Saarinen or Arne Jacobsen were at the forefront of this movement, right next to personalities such as Le Corbusier and even the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. It quickly made its way across the ocean into American lands, where it immediately received a wide and warm reception, especially in the West Coast, where Palm Springs would come to be the pinnacle of everything mid-century: mid-century design, mid-century homes, and mid-century inspiration overall. But we’ll get there…
HOW DO I RECOGNIZE THE MID-CENTURY STYLE?
1. FLAT PLANES
It’s very easy to notice that most of these homes have very regular and rigorous geometric lines. One of most regular features of them all are the roofs. It’s very common to see flat planes, and they instantly became one of the most popular features in mid-century homes.
2. LARGE WINDOWS
Sliding-glass doors and other expansive panes of glass allowed light to enter rooms from multiple angles.
3. CHANGES IN ELEVATION
Small steps going up and down between rooms creates split-level spaces, even if the rooms’ height differs just a few inches. A mid- century modern home usually has partial walls, or cabinets of varying heights to create different depths in the space.
4. INTEGRATION WITH NATURE
Mid-century modern houses are usually located in areas with a lot of natural surroundings. To enjoy this advantage, rooms have multiple outdoor views, or multiple access points, encouraging an appreciation of healthy living, mirroring a very northern-European way of living.
THESE ARE THE ARCHITECTS YOU HAVE TO KNOW!
Eero Saarinen was a 20th-century Finnish American architect and industrial designer noted for his mid-century modern and neo-futuristic style. Some of his most famous works include the now-closed TWA Terminal at the JFK airport, as well as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.
Alvar Aalto’s career is reflected in the styles of his work, ranging from Nordic Classicism to a rational International Style Modernism during the 1930s to a more organic modernist style from the 1940s onwards. One of his most notable works is Maison Louis Carré, pictured below.
Arne Emil Jacobsen was a Danish architect and designer, probably best remembered for his contribution to architectural Functionalism. His works are mainly located in the North of Europe, with a very typical mid-century social building being one of his most famous works: Aarhus City Hall.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German-American architect. Along with Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright, he is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture. One of this most notable works has to be The Farnsworth House, which is probably one of the most famous houses in the world.
Richard Joseph Neutra was an Austrian-American architect. Living and building for the majority of his career in Southern California, he came to be considered among the most important modernist architects. His Kaufmann House is probably one of his most renowned works. You can see it below.
As we have stated earlier, Palm Springs is the pinnacle of mid-century modern architecture and overall design. For some reason, the rough landscape of the Californian region served as an inspiration to many architects, which decided to site their creations in the desert lands of Palm Springs. The minimalist style of the mid-century modern homes ended up creating a stunning contrast with the arid plains and mountains all over the region, creating those dreamy and uncanny ambiances we are now so familiar with.