the ludlow group blog

“Can Classical And Modern Architecture Coexist?” Blog Discussion

On a blog we frequent, the ALPOLIC® Materials Blog, they prompted an interesting discussion on the relationship between modern and classic architecture.

I’ve always been partial to classic architecture, exuding history through its pores. Yet, when I think of classical architecture I envision St. Peter’s Basilica and other extravagant 16th century Italian works.

Modern architecture, to me, has a tendency to look the same, often an oversimplification of what architecture could potentially represent. Clearly not always the case, I still believe the rich cultural and historical significance of classic architecture are unsurpassed by the works of today. What do you think?

Heavy debate exists over the potential relationship between classical and modern architecture. Although the differences in style and form are most apparent, the materials used in classic, or historic, architecture differ greatly from those used in modern.

Technology plays a critical role in the inherit differences between the approaches. While most classic buildings utilize materials that were readily available such as brick and timber, modern structures tend to use industrialized materials such as glass and steel.

The mixture of the two disciplines is both intriguing and controversial. Some believe, a very contrasting and bold design is achieved, unparalleled by most one-dimensional works. While many enjoy the combination of old and new, others prefer the original structures to remain uncorrupted.

There are several different ways in which modern design is incorporated into classic architecture. Occasionally architects are given the opportunity to create an extension on a classic building, where the fusion of aged and contemporary is created. Often these works are among the most controversial.

Hufton+Crow Photography, Dresden Museum by Studio Daniel Libeskind

© Hufton+Crow Photography, Dresden Museum by Studio Daniel Libeskind

The modern piece may also serve as a connector, a sort of bridge between the two styles.

Peter Zaytsev Photo, Parasite Office by za bor architects

© Peter Zaytsev Photo, Parasite Office by za bor architects

Or, the piece may be completely unattached, not to negate from the importance of the historic building it is meant to complement.

Reji K.A. Photo, Le Grande Louvre Project by I.M. Pei

© Reji K.A. Photo, Le Grande Louvre Project by I.M. Pei

Which approach do you find most effective?

Is there a successful way to create a harmonious relationship between classical and modern architecture, or should the styles remain separate?

Do you know of an example of the relationship between these two disciplines, either good or bad?


About lexieludlowgroup

The Ludlow Group Blog is an advertising blog where you'll find posts on social media, design, marketing, ad campaigns, photography and architecture

3 comments on ““Can Classical And Modern Architecture Coexist?” Blog Discussion

  1. Romer Designs
    May 29, 2012

    This is a topic I struggle with it, continuously. While the romantic in me loves the history and genius of classical architecture, the minimalist in me is pulled toward the modern aesthetic, and the designer in me in split down the middle. Sometimes, when I see examples like above, my initial reaction is repulsion, then after the initial shock wears off, I can see how the two fit in harmony in their spaces and can co-exist. And then, sometimes I just scratch my head and don’t get it.

    • lexieludlowgroup
      May 29, 2012

      Thank you so much for contributing Tammy. I think most designers, or even lovers of design, struggle with this topic. There are most definitely incredible examples of modern architecture, especially minimalistic Japanese examples that are so beautiful in their simplicity. Then on the other hand there is the intricacy of classical architecture that is just so ornate in design you can’t help but fall in love. Why I personally tend to lean more towards classic construction is because there are so many terrible examples of modern architecture that seem to just invade their surroundings.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

      • Romer Designs
        May 29, 2012

        Agreed. Many modern buildings leave me scratching my head. And many are poorly constructed and cost thousands of dollars to make them functional. I forget if it’s Harvard or MIT, they had a world-renowned architect come in a build a very modern, very angled building that did nothing but leak. So sometimes being ultra modern w/o being function drives me crazy! Great topic!

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