International Style (architecture)

The International Style (English (The) International Style ) is a flow of classical modern architecture, which is often equated with this. The development of the International Style began around 1922 in Europe and later spread throughout the world. As a counter- movement of critical regionalism can be considered.


The term International Style was formed by Philip C. Johnson and Henry - Russell Hitchcock as an artificial term for minimalist and functionalist tendencies of modern European architecture of the 1920s and 1930s. For the first time it was as the title of the exhibition at MoMA in 1932 and in the subsequent publication ( The International Style: Architecture Since 1922 ) were used. The authors suggested therefore that the new architecture is internationalized and is separated from the local conditions at the same time they pointed for the first time that it has developed a new style of architectural history. Most modern architects held contrary to what Johnson and Hitchcock modernity rather for a new design methodology as a style. Earlier there was in Europe a similar designation, International architecture that took advantage of the apartment in Stuttgart in 1927, another Ludwig Hilberseimer as the title of the exhibition catalog. The art historian Hitchcock and Johnson chose another name that included the word style, and described the modern architecture style based on clear criteria, which they explained by means of 83 by architects names alphabetically arranged Example objects. Especially Walter Gropius resisted the term "style". The book Johnson and Hitchcock, which simply stated the visual and aesthetic qualities of modernity, became a kind of aesthetic Manual in the U.S. and exerted a great influence on the further development of the local architecture.

The term was first used in English-speaking countries; now it is widely applied for the cubic versions of modernity. So you look at international style part as a synonym of functionalism and rationalism, the distinction between these terms is displayed differently in the literature. Johnson and Hitchcock have the radical functionalists compared with the more influenced by the aesthetics of the International Style. Some later architectural historian doubt, however, that there was a unified concept of functionalism or a group of the functionalists in the 1920s.

Principles of style

The art historian Hitchcock and architect Johnson analyzed the new architecture using formal criteria and formulated some principles that should designate the modern architecture:

The authors have been particularly focused on the exterior of the building, on its broadcasting; the space experiments of modernity they paid less attention. Modern buildings should look slightly to Hitchcock and Johnson, the exterior walls should be smooth large surfaces with regular texture. Particularly suitable facade surfaces or linings they called wood paneling, ceramic panels as well as glass blocks. The plastered surfaces and exposed concrete, although after her remark generally associated with modernity, they thought was inappropriate, since in such a façade, the building visually were to increase in weight, the same problem kick most commonly in the brick facades. With large, flush with the front edge glazing facade, the building should win at ease. Non- stylistic principle was formerly postulated by Le Corbusier flat roof, the authors considered also the shed roof for functional and aesthetic.

In August 1951 appeared in Architectural Record, an article in which Hitchcock after almost twenty years, revised some of his views. He reported that the book had been intended to constitute a collection of academic rules, even as a design theory, and had rather described a description and prediction of future trends. The second principle he considered too restrictive in, and the third no longer valid because it was more attributable to the taste and overall aesthetics. To this end, Hitchcock explained the constructive truth and clarity of the building to another stylistic principle.

International style whose mission statement a prismatic tower with the glass curtain wall with the filigree design profiles was in the course of time, was in the first two decades after the Second World War, the dominant flow of modernity. According to many critics of style, his representatives have gradually removed completely from the functional and humanistic principles of modernity or were employed from the beginning only with aesthetic issues. Their architecture meadow on many functional defects that could be mitigated only with mechanical- technical systems. The International style was heavily criticized for the repeatability of the shape and monotony of the facades, a further point of criticism was the aggressive placement of the buildings in the city.

Style development

Of the four phases of architectural historians style development are observed:

  • In the early phase ( 1920 ) the style was limited mainly to the German-speaking countries, the Netherlands and France - this phase has been described in the eponymous book.
  • In the 1930s a number of European (especially German ) Architects came to the U.S. and the style was common.
  • The greatest flowering of the style were the late 1940s and the 1950s.
  • The Late International style emerged since the 1960s, sometimes up to the 1990s.

Earlier international styles

Strictly speaking, functionalism is not the first international style: In the 17th to 19th century historicist buildings were built with style elements of Greco -Roman antiquity worldwide. With the Old Summer Palace in Peking was a European Baroque, also a part of this style classique the way to China. International distribution of certain elements of style, there were even earlier. So favored in the 8th to 11th century Western and Oriental architecture alike arches on round columns or square pillars. And the European Gothic, distributed between Portugal, Norway and Transylvania, spread simultaneously with the use of pointed arches in Islamic architecture. So there were similarities of construction of north-western Europe to India, Southeast Asia and East Africa ( coastal cities such as Kilwa ) before Vasco da Gama had passed the Cape of Good Hope.

Selected representatives