Contemporary Architecture - From The Falling Snow Collection

In the loosest terms, contemporary simply means “in the style of the present,” by which definition Contemporary architecture would encompass all work under current construction. Contemporary as a true architectural style as most would know it, however, should be defined as architecture that is more avant-garde; a style that pushes the boundaries and explores principles and forms outside of the traditional. Of course this definition does not bring about true understanding either, as Contemporary architects globally and throughout history have experimented and built in entirely disparate manners and with complex motivations. For the sake of simplification, we will look at some of the most significant and common philosophies that bind many Contemporary style ideals together, which include: architecture seeking a harmony with nature; scaling back or eliminating any ostentatious decoration or detailing for a clean appearance; paring down non-essentials so that form truly follows function; finding beauty in organic shapes or experimental angles; and integrating sustainable practices.

Icons of Contemporary architecture abound who sought or seek new ways and new intentions to build, including Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Norman Foster, Jørn Utzon Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Daniel Liebskind. Contemporary architecture on a large scale, as seen in many museums, sky scrapers, and performance halls, can often be highly conceptual, with central ideas pushed to their furthest structural limit, where, for example, a building is formed entirely of skeletal structural materials with no decoration, as in Mies van der Rohe’s steel and plate glass Seagram Building; or only curves and rounded forms are used, as in many of Frank Gehry’s projects; or angles fragment and explode in every direction, as utilized by Daniel Libeskind; or the functional structures are playfully exposed, rather than hidden, as at Renzo Piano’s Centre Georges Pompidou. Although these larger buildings allow architects to push boundaries and explore, and these ideas trickle down into the modern housing market and sensibility, many defining moments in Contemporary architecture came directly from residential design, as was the case with Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Contemporary home design appeals to many forward thinking, cutting edge individuals who wish to surround themselves with this exciting aesthetic energy. Contemporary architecture lends itself easily to homes of all sizes, from very small to very large, as homes of any square footage can benefit from the ingenuity of well-placed angles or curves. This being said, it takes a judicious and clever use of scale and proportion to get the home to feel spacious and crisp, as an inherent balance of tension is the key to a successful contemporary home. The structure itself is often the focal point, so details matter, but decoration is typically kept to a minimum, true to a “less is more” philosophy. This allows the intrinsic beauty and integrity of materials to shine through, so plate glass, bronze, steel, titanium, raw or stained wood, concrete, and stone have the opportunity to be appreciated for their varying textures, sheen, and colors. Homes often take their cues from nature, both in the abundant large windows typical of Contemporary homes that allow the dweller to observe, and in the profile of the home, as this may echo angular mountains, flat plains, or bulbous clouds.

Contemporary homes often have an airy and innate sense of flow that is quite appealing to how many families love to live now, as an open floor plan is most common. On principle, Contemporary homes should be free from load bearing restrictions that dictate walls that break up the space, providing an ease of living and a natural accord with oneself and the greater world.

- Larry Gilland
 

To see more of the Rocky Mountain Plan Company's contemporary houses, check out The Falling Snow Collection!