Top 5 Popular features in modern architecture

Emerging in the 1920s, the International architectural style had unified forms and lines of modern architecture around the world. The era of industrial design and building made it easier to use the same building materials in any region, and concrete and steel were considered to be the best of them. New technologies made building processes faster, more efficient, and more economical. So, understandably, this style quickly spread everywhere. However, architects started to use international features whilst not always understanding their function or purpose. Since that time different trends in architecture (in this international style) came and went. Now the global Internet allows us to know what is happening in the world of architecture on the other side of the globe in mere minutes. And, despite the architects’ various individual styles and attempts to revive the vernacular, local styles, modern architecture has several of the most used features from all around the world in terms of forms and lines, and even in decorative details. The main problem with such trends is that architects following fashion will sometimes use them with disregard to function.

I am an architect, and every week I spend time looking at a multitude of new buildings or projects. Whilst doing so, I began to classify them and count the details that repeated more often than others.

Here are the top-5 popular features that I have found, their positives and negatives, so that you can use them properly:

  1. Tube shell structure (pic.1)forma1

In my opinion, this is the most popular architectural feature of the last few years.  This is when a building, or part of it, is placed in a tube shell. It can be round, square, or of a more complicated form, but the effect is still the same. It forms a front frame on the façade which is separated from its filling by mean of using different materials, colours or placement according to its front façade line. A small residential house or multistory office building could be integrated inside such a shell.

+ The entire shell could be used to improve the energy efficiency of the building if the architect chooses to use perimeter insulation inside.

– The same material has to be used around the tube. This option can be more expensive than usual.

  1. Extruded offset openings (or loophole/embrasure openings) (pic.2) forma2

This kind of feature has been derived from historical architecture, and has been adjusted to suit the modern age. It can be used on a scale of a room, storey, or whole façade. It means that a wall is non-flashed with an opening, but prominent, so the opening and wall border are in different planes and connected by ribs from point to point.

+ Such a form can help more sunlight and warmth to get into the building.

+ It gives nice intelligent visual dynamic to the wall.

– A good quality in this form is not easily achieved.

– It uses up the space of the building.

  1. Barcoded texture (pic.3) forma3

This one came from an industry feature of the 20th century – the barcode. It is used in architecture as a pattern in different scales. It can have one module that is repeated in every piece of the pattern. It is known to be very popular as a façade system .

+ It is very flexible, as it can be adopted to different façade glazing systems. Wherever you need a window it can be added in such a system without ruining the pattern of the entire façade.

– Some may consider it being too popular a feature.

  1. Triangular surface buildings (pic.4) forma4

This style is very in trend now, as it acts as a reflection of modern technologies in BIM modeling. It comes from a parametric method of projecting. Complicated surfaces that are a result of such methods can sometimes be smooth (like Zaha Hadid architecture), or have broken surfaces. One should note, that the triangular ones are the most popular because of their flexibility.

+  It is very flexible and can provide more efficient form or/and volume to the building.

+ The silhouette of such a building can be very distinguishable and can have a very modern look.

– It requires modern software to design, and to erect such a structure would present more difficulties despite the all-new building technologies.

– It is most likely to be more costly than other features.

  1. Dynamic forms and lines (pic.5) forma5

This is a feature from the second half of the 20th century that appeared simultaneously alongside the growing dynamics of everyday life, and which got reflected in such architectural style as deconstructivism. It roots itself, of course, in the changing mindset of society, but that is a whole other story. The main characteristics of the dynamism are inclined pitched lines and surfaces.

+ For many people dynamic silhouette is associated with the most modern lifestyle.

– Such forms may create nonfunctional space and may need more material and higher building skills.

Perhaps you might be able to define more popular features?