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Modern vs. Contemporary

by jennifer jenkins last modified Mar 31, 2008 09:06 AM
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Modern vs. Contemporary

Posted by jennifer jenkins at March 05. 2006

I found this site a few weeks ago and have found a lot of very useful and unique ideas, some of which I have added to the plans of the house I am currently building.

I also started a blog to document my journey during this build. I am in the process of building a 4500 sq ft, 2 level house on a hillside. I will be using an insulted block, steel interior framing and poured concrete and steel beams for the floor/ceiling between the floors. It is a clean line house and will have many unique features.

As I am reading over this board and the modern home board for Phoenix where I live, I am finding that much of the discussion is about either mid-century modern homes (especially on the Phoenix site) or homes that are meant to get the most function out of a house and therefore tend to be 1000-2500sq ft.

With this information in mind, it makes me wonder if my house really fits into the “modern” category or is it really contemporary.

What is the difference, if any, between modern and contemporary?

Am I out of place posting my experience on this site?

I appreciate any input!

Jennifer

Re: Modern vs. Contemporary

Posted by Splatgirl at March 06. 2006

Does it matter?
Is modernism just a style thing?

In my mind, modernism goes far beyond asthetics and really has very little to do with style.

I define modernism for myself as thoughtful, interesting, sensible design and materials use and leveraging technology and innovation to their greatest advantage for the given situation. This could be as grand as utilizing an alternative to site-built stick framing for an entire house or as simple as figuring out how to make cement board look cool for a finished floor in a remodel. So, true, there is an asthetic component, but I don't feel it is simply that which unites us here.

Your house sounds a lot like the one I'm just finishing up...have we exchanged posts on the ICF web?

Incidentally, I detest the term contemporary. What the heck does it mean anyway? An architectural style? That term is used to describe anything from breathtaking Louis Khan to the beigeville mcmansion down the block and styles ranging from cartoon-ified, brushed nickel traditional to stainless, glass and Philippe Starck.

Re: Modern vs. Contemporary

Posted by matt hutchins at March 06. 2006

Contemporary is recent although it is used as a catch all for houses that don't fit into the traditional aesthetic categories.

Modern is the result of innovative use of construction technology, honest use of materials, the espression of the structure and open planning, without the baggage of historical nostalgia.

Thus, a Modern house could be 75 years old, and a Contemporary house could be not Modern at all.

Re: Modern vs. Contemporary

Posted by jennifer jenkins at March 11. 2006

Thanks for the thoughts. Splatgirl, we have not exchanged posts on the ICF web, because I don’t know what that is!! What is it?

I am actually going to be using omni block for the construction of my house, not ICF. They are somewhat similar, but the insulation is on the inside of omni blocks.

I guess I will stick around as I have found so much more information here that is relevant to what I want than anywhere else.

Once I figure out how to post pictures onto my blog I will post more there so you can see my house.

Re: Modern vs. Contemporary

Posted by Aaron West at March 22. 2008

Previously jennifer jenkins wrote:



I found this site a few weeks ago and have found a lot of very useful and unique ideas, some of which I have added to the plans of the house I am currently building.

I also started a blog to document my journey during this build. I am in the process of building a 4500 sq ft, 2 level house on a hillside. I will be using an insulted block, steel interior framing and poured concrete and steel beams for the floor/ceiling between the floors. It is a clean line house and will have many unique features.

As I am reading over this board and the modern home board for Phoenix where I live, I am finding that much of the discussion is about either mid-century modern homes (especially on the Phoenix site) or homes that are meant to get the most function out of a house and therefore tend to be 1000-2500sq ft.

With this information in mind, it makes me wonder if my house really fits into the “modern” category or is it really contemporary.

What is the difference, if any, between modern and contemporary?

Am I out of place posting my experience on this site?

I appreciate any input!

Jennifer



Hi Jennifer,

Modern design refers to an era or a particular time period.  The Bauhaus school created this modern style to deviate away from traditional styles.   Postmodern style was a reaction to the modern style to regain individuality and yet still keep that sleek look.  Contemporary came after postmodern and is the current era which we are in presently.  If someone tells you that a piece of furniture looks modern, they are comparing it to the way furniture was designed during the modern time period.  Hope that helped.   

 

Re: Modern vs. Contemporary

Posted by Tom Emerson at March 31. 2008

You are a little off there, Aaron. Modern architecture (with a capital M) was not created by the Bauhaus, though Gropius, Meis Van der Rohe and others were very influential. Modern architecture came about as the result of explorations by a number of architects around the turn of the twentieth century. These explorations paralleled the social, political, scientific and artistic changes occurring at the time. The architects were looking for new forms to recognize these changes.

Postmodern architecture, as the name implies, was a reaction to the international style modern architecture that came about as a result of those earlier explorations. It offered a return to many of the iconic forms, (sloped roofs, classical columns etc.) colors and references that were not a part of the modern agenda. Thus, it is not really modern, nor is it strictly traditional either. Of the architects best known for producing postmodern work, some like Robert Stern have gone more traditional, others like Gehry used it as a bridge to move past modern and still others have created a personal style that is really theirs alone.

Contemporary architecture is primarily real estate term coined to refer to anything non traditional. It is often used indiscriminately as splatgirl emphasized. I think that, most accurately, it identifies a strain of architecture, influenced by F. L. Wright and Charles Moore that combined sloped roofs, open plans and an affinity for natural materrials. Sort of an attempt at a best of both worlds approach. It actually developed concurrantly with Postmodern and for many of the same reasons.

Post modern design, and to a lesser extent contemporary design, has influenced much of the architecture we see today. Those working in a more mainstream modern architectural style are indebted to many of the material and color explorations of postmodern. Similarly, a lot of the environmentally conscious design today has its roots in the contemporary architecture of the seventies.

I think the term modern (with a small m) is more akin to the term traditional in that it encompasses a number of styles. Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco and International Style Modern are as different from one another as Classical, Gothic and Victorian.

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