‘The Contemporary House’ takes on 21st century design concerns
This year Bauhaus celebrates its centenary. And one hundred years on, it is incredible to think how this movement has explosively impacted on architecture and design and ideology. Few creatives today will work without referencing or being influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Yet, the 21st century is facing its own unique challenges – mass migration, globalisation, rapid urbanisation, rising environmental concerns.
Cities are overcrowded – many are expanding into megacities with millions living almost on top of one another. Added to this, new buildings must meet stringent energy saving requirements and negotiate a myriad of planning regulations. They need to address their surroundings too and form progressive narratives with history. Contemporary urban architecture is, therefore, a complex jigsaw-puzzle with invention, innovation, and imagination as critical as ever.
‘The Contemporary House‘ takes on this theme. Written by architectural critics Jonathan Bell and Ellie Stathaki, and published by Thames & Hudson, this is an insightful study of new city living. It features seventy of the world’s most innovative, extreme, and ingenious houses, and is organised geographically as a way of navigating regional dialogues. The book reviews how modern residential design is integrated into the existing urban fabric for a fascinating insight into the variety of contemporary approaches to urban design.
Some of the traditional vernacular forms such as terraced homes, townhouses, and isolated villas are being questioned today, as are the repercussions of the 20th century’s suburban sprawl and their poor land use. ‘The Contemporary House’ sees new philosophies of minimalism replacing some of the more indulgent structures of the past. For instance, it refers to a new shape called ‘the stack’ – one that is compact, space-conscious, and insulated. Amidst the fear of homogenisation of cities, there is a tendency for more self-expression in contemporary homes too. Most importantly, the 21st century is defined by the urgency for thinking sustainably and imaginatively in reusing resources.
As cities become ever-congested, as we face the challenges of an ageing population and mass migration, and as we work towards a sustainable future – architects, designers, and urban planners will need to continue to expand on the principals laid out by the Bauhaus members one-hundred years ago. To quote the school’s founder, Walter Gropius, ‘To have the gift of imagination is more important than all technology.’ Nargess Banks
Images: Lee-Chin Crystal at Royal Ontario Museum by Studio Daniel © Nikreates/Alamy Stock Photo; Amsterdam’s Inntel Hotel by WAM Architecten © Frans lemmens/Alamy Stock Photo; The Shard in London by Renzo Piano © CW Images/Alamy Stock Photo; Glenn Murcutt’s houses Sydney suburb © Paul Lovelace/Alamy Stock Photo; Via 57 West in Manhattan by BIG © imageBROKER/Alamy Stock Photo