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What makes a House ‘Modern’

by Architects B last modified Jun 07, 2014 10:29 PM
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What makes a House ‘Modern’

Posted by Architects B at January 21. 2014

Everyone likes the term ‘modern’. But what are the factors that make a residence in true sense a                non-traditional house? Let’s find out.


  • Simplicity- Modern home plans are very simple and clear in design as well as in structure. Generally there is only one theme for the entire building.


  • Kitchens- Modern kitchens are designed according to the requirements of the client. Small Kitchen Island has become a need of these homes.

  • Eco-friendly- Every step is taken to protect nature in modern green homes. For example, Ashwin Architects in Bangalore makes provisions for gardens, plants and for natural light & ventilation within their modern house plans. The construction materials used are also eco-friendly.


  • Huge windows- Big windows provide ample air as well as allow sunlight to enter the room. This helps to reduce the burden on artificial lighting resources.

  • Equipments- Modern homes are facilitated with the latest high-tech equipments. Devices that make life easy are a common feature of modern homes.  

Re: What makes a House ‘Modern’

Posted by Andrew Weaver at March 20. 2014

I agree with what you've listed here.  Let's take it further and examine the principles behind these points.  I boil it down three principles: simple, honest & functional. 


The design should be what it needs to be and no more.  No extra adornments or superfluous details.


Nothing fake.  Use materials honestly.  Wood should look like wood.  Metal should look like metal.  Stone should look like stone.  Concrete should look like concrete.


The design has to work.  Stairs you can ascend safely, doors you can figure out how to open and close.


I expand on these ideas in my blog:

Re: What makes a House ‘Modern’

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at June 07. 2014

This is a discussion that has gone on since these forums were part of the Dwell discussion board, so I have thought about this a lot. There will be hundreds of counter examples to almost any defining feature. You can say no extra adornments, but van ger Rohe welded superfluous I beams to the outside of his buildings purely as decoration and modernists have always loved veneer covered plywood. Lots of modern houses in magazines have dangerous staircases that defy building codes. Maybe modern should be green, but the lowest energy way to build a building is without windows (heating and air conditioning costs WAY outweighs daylighting savings). Frank Lloyd Wright defined "organic" design as design where every element shares the same design theme, but there is plenty of eclectic modernism out there. I'd like to say that modern means rejecting historical design themes, but there is a modern vernacular movement as well. Modernists tend to hate baseboards and other trim pieces but they are functional and lower the cost of construction.

I designed and live in a modern house, and while it has a lot of glass, it also has baseboards and does not have a kitchen island.

1. Modern design does not reference traditional details as ornament (note, I do not consider post-modernism a sub category of modernism).

2. Modern design should follow (or at least look like it follows) the form follows function principle.


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