Contemporary Architecture



  • Born in Aachen, Germany on 27 Mar. 1886
  • Trained with his father, a master stonemason
  • Worked in the family stone-carving business
  • At 19, he moved to Berlin before he joined the office of Bruno Paul in Berlin (the art nouveau architect and furniture designer)
  • At 20 he received his first independent commission,
    to plan a house for a philosopher (Alois Riehl)
  • Entered the studio of Peter beherns in 1908 and remained until 1912
  • Opened his own office in Berlin in 1912 and married in 1913


  • Dutch Architecture
    • 17th century interiors – crystal clear with precisely framed walls and openings
    • Had an inner affinity with Mies’s balancing of plane surfaces
  • Father’s Workshop
    • Correct placing of brick upon brick and stone upon stone
    • These early experiences probably the reason for his fanaticism with pure form and great care in the use of building materials
    • 1909 – Turbinen Fabrik – showed the strength of expression possessed by iron and glass
    • Could be brought out by an artist/architect who understood their possibilities
    • Also learnt careful handling of new materials, particularly in his later works
    • Free ground plan
  • Expressionist Movement
    • Art Nouveau – Gaudi’s expressionism – biomorphic and osteomorphic fantasy
    • German movement – mysticism; emotional extremes in art
    • W.W. I – economic deprivation – 1918-21 + following years
    • Almost nothing built – a world of imagination and fantasy
    • Crystalline, prismatic forms
    • Mies – 1919-21 – glass walled skyscrapers
    • Prismatic, star shaped massing to reflect light like a crystal
    • Foreshadowed his glass walled skyscrapers
  • Peter Behrens
    • 1909 – Turbinen Fabrik – showed the strength of expression possessed by iron and glass
    • Could be brought out by an artist/architect who understood their possibilities
    • Also learnt careful handling of new materials, particularly in his later works
  • F.L. Wright
    • Free ground plan


  • Studied the architecture of the  Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Frank Lloyd Wright
  • After world war I – began studying the skyscraper
  • Designed two innovative steel-framed towers
    encased in glass
  • One of them – Friedrichstrasse skyscraper, designed in 1921 for a competition
  • Never built, although it drew critical praise and foreshadowed his skyscraper designs of the late 40s and 50s


  • Less is more
  • I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good
  • Technology’s essence is the main field of architecture


General features:

  • No function other than to look worthy of the country it represents
  • Honey coloured golden onyx, green Tinian marble and frosted glass were the basic materials used
  • Had a sculpture named the German flag
  • Starting of the modern movement


General features:

  • The house is situated in the midst of meadows and trees on a large natural plot.
  • Principle of minimalism
  • Floods and insects were main problems tackled
  • A vacation residence for a doctor
  • One enters the home by climbing a low, broad set of stairs to a sparse deck, then another, similar set of stairs to the outdoor porch

CASE STUDY THREE: Seagram Building, New York, 1954-58:

General features:

  • The Seagram Building is a skyscraper in New York City
  • In collaboration with the American Philip Johnson
  • It is 516 feet tall with 38 stories
  • It stands as one of the finest examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism

“I remember seeing many old buildings in my hometown when I was young. Few of them were important buildings. They were mostly very simple, but very clear. I was impressed by the strength of these buildings because they did not belong to any epoch. They had been built there for over a thousand years and were still impressive and nothing could change that. All great styles passed, but…they were still as good as on the day they were built.”           – Mies Van Der Rohe.


General details:

  • S. R. Crown Hall is generally considered to be one of Mies’ greatest works
  • Mies considered Crown the clearest statement of his philosophy of a universal space building.
  • Crown is home to IIT’s College of Architecture; inside the building, free-standing partitions suggest spaces for studios and exhibition.
  • the building houses the architecture school
  • The wings to the east and west. It is a Upper Core is organized about an axis that runs north/south, with no Permanent partitions or formal separation of spaces. The building itself is organized on two floors, with the main floor raised about 6 feet above grade to allow natural light and ventilation into the lower level through clerestory windows.
  • creating symmetrical  single open hall
  • oak-wood partitions
  • Built of hollow clay tile, the chases are finished in plaster painted white.
  • Circulation consists of a hallway that is U-shaped in plan


  • His love for simplicity
  • Trying out innovative materials
  • Structural details
  • Spending lot of time on design
  • Glass and steel
  • Furniture details(layouts)

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Contemporary Architecture

Jean Nouvel – The Torre Agbar

Biography: Jean Nouvel was born in 1945 in Fumel, France. He has been working as an architect since 1975, mainly in France, Germany and Japan.

  • 1972 – diploma from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts
  • 1975 – opens his first architectural studio
  • 1981 – wins competition for a series of large-scale projects proposed by President Francois Mitterrand
  • 1988 – forms a partnership with Swiss architect Emmanuel Cattani
  • 1991 – becomes vice-president of the Institut Frençais d’Architecure
  • 1993 – named Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects

Design Philosophy: “ For me, architecture is a modification. A little modification of a landscape, a part of a city, a complement to other buildings, a testimony of an epoch and so on. It’s not a kind of sculpture. “

– sensitivity to context – cultural, geographical or architectural.
– more dynamic and lively architecture.

“My research is always around the idea of specificity and I don’t like to repeat the same vocabulary or to do the same architecture on every spot on the earth.”

– focus on creating something unique and exclusive to the place.

– full of simplicity, delicacy, & depth. The Torre Agbar, Barcelona, Spain: Project Details:

  • Program: 142 m highrise for the registered office of the company Aigües de Barcelona (AGBAR) + auditorium of 350 places
  • Client: Layetana Inmuebles S.L.
  • Architects: AJN and b720 (Barcelona Architectural studio)
  • Structure: Obiols/Brufau
  • Builder: Dragados/Axima/Emte
  • Architect/Lobby/Top Management: b720 advised by AJN
  • Project Management: Master Igeneria
  • General Management: Agbar Servicios Compartidos

Location: Its Key strategic position ensures easy access and proximity to the most important and emblematic places in the city The origin: Inspired by the architectural legacy of Montserrat, the Agbar Tower rises from the ground with the power and lightness of a geyser. Use of 81000 LEDs to produce 16 million colours Bioclimatic Architecture

  • Regulation of air flow
  • Use of sunlight through building’s orientation
  • Energy Efficient
  • Use of insulating, recyclable and non-contaminating materials.
  • Use of Renewable Energy sources in design.

Air Flow:

  • 8500 windows designed to achieve natural ventilation.
  • Double glazing

Materials & Energy Efficiency:

  • No material is used that contains formaldehyde, asbestos or lead.
  • Optimization of elevator routes using a computer system to avoid unnecessary consumption and ensure service for people with special needs.
  • Average solar heat gain : 25.11 %.
  • Natural Heating and Ventilation through louvers.
  • Temperature sensors on external façade.

Use of sunlight: Fritted Louvers

  • provide partial shade to the building’s surface, and
  • create a ventilation space that allows heat to rise and escape before reaching the thermal envelope behind.

A Business Tower

  • It announces the location of the new barcelona business centre like a lighthouse attracting businesses for the immediate future.
  • At the doors of the new business district 22 in Barcelona.
  • Priviledged work environment with singular prestige.

Office Spaces:

  • Column free spaces
  • Free height 2.6m
  • Encapsulated technical floor
  • 1500kg/m² load bearing steel false ceiling.
  • Embedded sprinklers and lights
  • Modular furniture
  • One kitchen per floor

Building Characteristics:

  • 28 floors : Office Use
  • 03 floors : Refugee floors
  • 01 floor   : Cafeteria
  • 01 floor   : Multipurpose Room
  • 01 floor   : Panoramic View
  • 8 Elevators +
  • 1 Service Elevator +
  • 02 floors : Auditorium + Services
  • 02 floors : Parking

Interior Design

  • The interior design is based on the energy and colour of its exterior skin

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Contemporary Architecture

The Bilbao Effect – The economic and social impact of a Museum

What is Bilbao Effect?

  • žThe transformation of the decaying small Spanish town by a new museum or cultural facility into a vibrant and attractive place for residents, visitors and inward investment.
  • žMajor credit to the famous Guggenheim museum designed by Frank O Gehry


  • A highly congested river port
  • Purely industrial city (grey)- iron and steel industry, shipbuilding, chemical factories
  • Bilbao was in the grip of an economic recession and identity crisis because heavy industry was in precipitous decline


  • It was de-industrialisation that stimulated the Bilbao and the Basque governments was a plan to create a major international cultural initiative to revive the city and put it on the map in a period of European integration.
  • Rise in service companies, tourism, high technology and dissemination of information and knowledge
  • Construction of new buildings
1998 (October 1997 inauguration of the Guggenheim) 1,500,000 visitors, surpassing anticipated numbers.
Change of image for Bilbao:   Modern city
  • Driving force for consolidating the tourism   industry in Basque country
  • Improved quality of life for  residents in terms of  leisure activities
  • Stimulator for inbound tourism and   commercial activity
  • Venue for congresses, seminars, courses, etc.
  • Generator of international prestige for the  Basque country
  • International cultural tourism
Economic stats:
  • In its first 12 months, 79% of visitors to the Guggenheim came to Bilbao exclusively to see the museum.
  • These visitors spent € 186 million, an average of € 168 per visitor.
  • Income of sectors benefiting most from the Guggenheim in the first 9 months:
    • Over € 63 million on hotels and restaurants
    • Over € 48 million in shops and businesses
    • Over € 39 million on accommodation companies
    • Over € 22 million on the museum itself (tickets, purchases,…)
    • Over € 10 million on transport (petrol, tolls…)


  • žECONOMIC EFFECT: main reason for attracting and developing tourism in the area
  • žTOURISTS: tourist spending represents profits for business owners, jobs for residents and revenue via taxes (self-financing).


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