Contemporary architecture is the architecture of today! It is not a movement or a historic period that can be timed. Contemporary architecture is a depiction of modern-day man’s thoughts and opinions. It’s about freedom of expression and creating a space that breaths for itself. It is about being experimental and inclusive for all design forms and styles.
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But this Contemporary Architecture is based on intense research and transformations. Picking up usability from each architect and discarding failures of every artist, accepting the goodness from everywhere! So after hundreds of years and millions of art forms that came, together they gave birth to modern architecture. Contemporary architecture is not one ideology but a sense of liberty that ‘innovation’ is the only key. It means designing in a style that breaks the stereotypes, standards, and sizes created by past traditions.
Even though modern architects have studied each architectural style and art movements profusely, one of the most intricately analyzed periods is the ‘Renaissance’. Till today, every architect studies the Renaissance artists and their theories like the bible. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Brunelleschi along with many others are considered the pioneers of the Renaissance. They did not only give birth to this style but almost 500 years back, brought a revolution all over Europe. A much-needed change from overly decorated Roman and Gothic Architectural style. They are true flagbearers of freedom in the form of expression through art. They carved their own niche by thinking way ahead of their time.
Renaissance architecture was although influenced by Roman architecture like the use of ornamentation, they used it more responsibly and along with that came a change in forms of structure. The architects introduced building style which was more symmetric and structured. The use of the ‘golden ratio’ started trending which is followed by today by all the architects. Structures started taking the form of their functionality and not aesthetics alone.
Taking a step back and going to the basics, perspective drawings were first realized by Filippo Brunelleschi. It is one of the major contributions that the artist gave to the entire world. Giving depth to the paintings and portraying the size of elements kept in different distances revolutionized the drawing style completely. As a result, detailing became simpler and more precise. Leonardo’s master, Vecchio introduced different painting styles that utilized oil and plaster in proportions to make the art piece vibrant and more realistic.
Renaissance architects designed residential buildings such that the windows swept most amount of sunlight. Width of streets was kept at least the average of adjacent ones to reduce the damage from earthquakes and obtain maximum sunlight. The plan was kept symmetric and repetitive. About 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci designed an ideal city beside the river Ticino. His extensive drawings show how perfectly he wanted to design this city keeping in mind Renaissance ideals yet ‘modern’ and ‘rational’ in design. He wanted to construct the city at different levels. He dedicated underground tunnels to be used as sewage lines. Upper levels could be used by the pedestrians to walk around and admire the architecture. The lower portion of the city was the place for trade and transport. This distribution can still be seen in urban planning but it was revolutionary for that time. The cities were planned to be spacious and airy. He suggested the placement of stairs outside the building to give more space to the interiors; people, however, adopted this during the 1920s. He included several innovations in his city planning which were quite unconventional. He was ahead of his time and his designs helped in shaping today’s style.
But true innovation can only be seen in the way he tried to fuse architecture and engineering. He made plans to build hydraulic waterways and canal systems which would carry boats to transport goods inland. Although none of his buildings were built, the true revolution lies in the drawings that depict his modern planning skills.
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Renaissance was a window that opened the way for urbanism. It gave us brilliant minds that showed us the way to modernism. They taught us to experiment, to bring minimalism and to adapt to the rhythm of nature. The contributions made by Leonardo and other renaissance architects will always be invaluable and inevitable.