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Futurist Architecture: Design & Characteristics

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  • 0:04 Architectural Design
  • 0:35 Origins
  • 1:59 Characteristics
  • 3:25 Neo-Futurist Architecture
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chelsea Milks

Chelsea holds a masters in Business and a bachelors in Interior Design & Fashion Merchandising. She is an adjunct professor and independent designer.

Futurist architecture is a style of architecture that encourages modern design and thinking. This lesson discusses the design and characteristics of Futurist architecture: movement, technology, nature, and science.

Architectural Design

As you head to work, run an errand, or take a leisurely stroll, you may find yourself glancing at the buildings, houses, and monuments on your route, taking note of their distinctive details. Or, maybe when sightseeing, you spot a unique building, where its curved lines, creative structure, and eye-catching materials invite you to study its design more closely. There's no doubt that the architect who designed this structure created a work of art. One example of architectural design is Futurist architecture, which we'll explore in this lesson.

Origins

Where did Futurist architecture begin? Well, it originated as a result of the Futurist movement, which was founded by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti when he wrote and published a manifesto in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro during the early 20th century. His article sought to inspire anger by dismissing the artistic values and ways of the past and proclaiming the transformation of the future through motion, technology, and transportation. His persuasive article inspired other artists to join in this movement.

Antonio Sant'Elia was a Futurist architect who created drawings of modern building and cities that embodied the power of technology in the 20th century and beyond. His career was short and included few completed projects, but his legacy was important in the architectural realm. Sant'Elia's drawings featured sharp, sweeping lines, industrial elements, and tall skyscrapers. His sketches of the modern world truly formed the basis for the Futurist architecture discussed today.

As a result of these trendsetters, architects began to design structures reflecting the Futurist movement. Instead of designing typical buildings with functional appearances and symmetrical lines and form, architects designed structures that looked like imaginative works of art, resembling the future itself.

This new style focused on the four main components of Futurist architecture:

  • Movement
  • Technology
  • Natural materials
  • Science

Let's discuss each characteristic in more depth.

Characteristics

Movement

Movement, or the flow of design, is a key characteristic of Futurist architecture. Designs prior to the Futurist movement showcased precise straight lines and square or rectangular shapes. Futurist architecture encouraged the use of unique angles, hanging slopes, sharp edges, triangles, ovals, and domes, to name just a few features.

Technology

Futurist architecture sought to embrace rather than reject the technological changes of the 20th century. For example, functional glass elevators replaced stairs, and architects used sleek lines and metal components to add beauty and emotion. Here's another example: Have you ever been in a home or office where the television is built into the wall? This approach is not foreign to Futurist architecture, as its goal is to incorporate the most current and forward-looking technological advances.

Natural Elements

Futurist architecture also derives its structural elements from the natural environment. For example, a house might be built using brick and vinyl, or a wood frame covered with sheet rock. Now, imagine looking at a house with glass walls supported by metal frames. Its inhabitants can sit in the living room while enjoying the natural light and gazing at the trees and the sunset.

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