Contrasting Constructivist Architecture with Other Architectural StylesAug, 2 2023
A Carousel of Architectural Styles
Let's dive into a topic that gets my architecturally-obsessed heart racing faster than my poodle, Benji, chasing squirrels in the park--which, let me tell you, is faster than most people's morning cup of coffee kicks in. We are about to undertake an extensive and comparative analysis between constructivist architecture and other prevalent architectural styles. To put it simply, we're about to paint with buildings, my friends. Confused? Stick with me, you'll see what I mean soon enough.
Constructivist Architecture: Bauhaus of the East
Launch into the world of constructivist architecture and you'll find yourself immersed in what some might call the rebellious teenager of architectural styles. Born in the tumultuous early 20th century in Russia, constructivism broke free from the chains of classicism, shouting towards the future with bold, geometric shapes and an emphasis on space over mass.
The onset of constructivism revolutionized the architectural landscape, disseminating the idea that form should always follow function. It proposed architecture as a science and an industry, not an art. It took off, and ascended to the lofty heights of the architectural world quicker than my Benji sprints towards an unattended ham sandwich.
Now, within this wondrous world of straight lines, light-open spaces and exposed materials, you might come across the famous Zuev Workers' Club or the iconic Narkomfin building and wonder at their utilitarian beauty. Understandably so. These buildings, aside from being a pure delight to the eyes, represent constructivism's ideals of social purpose, functionality and technological prowess.
Neoclassical Architecture: It's All Greek to Me
Pivot your gaze from the utilitarian beauty of constructivist architecture to the grandeur and symmetry of the neoclassical style, and it's akin to switching from a riveting game of chess to an elegant ballroom dance. They are equally entertaining in their own ways, but with different rules and rhythms.
Rooted in the architectural vocabulary of ancient Greece and Rome, neoclassicism presents you with grandiose facades adorned with Greek orders (think Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns), triangular pediments, and meticulous detailing. Walk the streets of Washington DC and the White House, the U.S Capitol - this is neoclassical architecture in full glory. In this style, architecture screams dignity, stability, and grandeur, much like an opera in stone.
Ducking out from the drama of grand facades you'll find that neoclassicism shares something with constructivism, and it's not just the love for straight lines. Both styles emphasize the functionality of spaces, but the expression differs drastically. Where constructivism sneaks in function within the bare essentials, neoclassicism elegantly weaves it into monumental, balanced structures that are designed to be as pleasing to the eye as Benji is after a trip to the groomers. Trust me, it's ridiculously pleasing.
Modern Architecture: Simplify, Then Add Lightness
When thinking of modern architecture, I cannot help but reminisce about the time when as a child, I'd use my set of colourful building blocks to construct fascinating structures. Little did I know then that my playful endeavours were nuanced explorations into the realm of modern architecture.
Worlds away from the decorative appeal of neoclassicism and ridding of the formal rigor of constructivism, modern architecture presents us with minimalist forms championing functionality, open space, and the integration of nature. With less is more as its mantra, the style took a radical departure from the aesthetics of the past and brought forth new building technologies and materials, much like the adoption of steel, glass and concrete.
Just as the Villa Savoye, the Barcelona Pavilion, or the Seagram building are epitomes of modernism, my Lego creations, in my humble opinion, were their unsung counterparts. All those structures, Lego or otherwise, were epitomes of the modernist ideology- simplicity, functionality and a touch of genius.
Comparatively Speaking: Where Do We Stand?
How do you compare a delicious apple pie to a chocolate lava cake? Much like those desserts, each architectural style carries its own unique appeal, and the beauty often lies in the eye of the beholder. However, the common thread weaving these three styles together is the emphasis on functionality. Be it constructivism's bare-bones approach, the regal portrayal of neoclassicism, or the stripped beauty of modernism - functionality is key.
Switching gears and steering towards aesthetics, let's appreciate constructivism's industrial charm, starkly contrasting against neoclassicism's historical grandeur. Modernism seems to reside in the middle ground - stripped back ornamentation yet still managing to tantalize the viewer with its subtle elegance.
So, next time you take a slow walk through your city, try to imagine the architectural styles as different genres of music. Each one expresses different emotions, experiences, and ideologies, all the while creating a harmonious symphony in your urban landscape. And if you happen to come across a constructivist building, remember my dear Benji. Minimalism, function, and an exceptional approach to life is what they both share. Architecture might not wag its tail, but it certainly communicates emotions in its own unique language.