According to Buffalo as an Architectural Museum Website,
The International Style is “A style of architecture applied to residences and public buildings that is minimalist in concept, is devoid of regional characteristics, stresses functionalism, and rejects all nonessential decorative elements; typically this style emphasizes the horizontal aspects of a building.”
According to Stephen Uithoven,
“The International Style receives its name due to the assimilation of the style in much of the developed world by the end of the Second World War. The style has basis in ideas found in Cubist painting and as a result much of the architecture produced by the style is rather square with few organic forms. The style of construction can be considered Functionalist in nature, as it puts the usefulness of the space over the aesthetics.
The International Style of architecture embraced new building methods, such as steel frame construction and reinforced concrete. Unlike the futurists they did not limit themselves in materials and allowed the use of methods of the past, such as load bearing masonry, where necessary. One of the defining factors of the style was the reliance of the intrinsic elegance of the materials instead of attempting to apply decorative coatings.
The Bauhaus School in Germany played a role in creating and propagating the International Style of architecture. The primary driver behind the Bauhaus School was Walter Gropius, the founder of the school and the primary influence for the distinct style that the Bauhaus produced. He believed that the creation of a building was the highest of all forms of art because a building required the blending of the skills of the architect, artist, and craftsman into one. The breaking down of boundaries between fine art and craft was a central concept of the school producing a teaching program that focused on teaching a mastery of craft before more sophisticated artistic skills. The belief of mastery of craft was so strong for Gropius that the school at first did not have any classes in architecture, instead wishing to focus first on craft.
The school was established 1919 in Weimar, Germany. The school’s philosophy had a socialist slant and because of this it was driven to relocate by the more conservative elements of the city. In 1925 the school moved to Dessau, Germany. At this location a new campus was constructed with buildings conforming to the distinct style developed by Gropius. These buildings, still standing today, are a prefect example of the International Style. In 1933, under the pressure and suspicion of the Nazis the school closed. The influence of the school diffused, with many of the professors finding jobs in Europe and the United States.
Construction techniques and styles that surround us in today’s buildings have their roots in the International Style. Like many of the major architectural movements, buildings from the style are still in use today and serve as a living example.”
- Simple geometric forms, often rectilinear
- Form characterized by a series of volumes
- Reinforced-concrete and steel construction with a nonstructural skin
- Occasionally, cylindrical surfaces
- Unadorned, smooth wall surfaces, typically of glass,steel, or stucco painted white
- Complete absence of ornamentation and decoration; often, an entire blank wall
- Often, a cantilevered upper floor or balcony
- Houses in this style are characterized by open interior spaces and are commonly asymmetrical
- Commercial buildings are not only symmetrical but appear as a series of repetitive elements
- Flat roof, without a ledge, eaves, or coping, that terminates at the plane of the wall
- Large areas of floor-to-ceiling glass or curtain walls of glass
- Metal window frames set flush with the exterior walls, often in horizontal bands
- Casement windows; sliding windows
- Doorway treatments conspicuously plain, lacking decorative detailing