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Case-lesson «Architecture of the modern world»
Case-lesson «Architecture of the modern world»

Subject: Art

The level (grade): 7+

Category: Other forms of art

Objective: To master knowledge of different fields of science, practice and prospects of creative architecture development.

What information is waiting for me here?

  • What architecture will be a "facade" of the future?
  • What are the most interesting architectural structures in the modern world?
  • What fundamental and practical knowledge will be useful to me?
  • What is the difference between modern architecture and architecture of the past?
  • To build a house. How much does it cost?
  • How do modern architects design their masterpieces?
  • How to build a heavy-duty arch and a non-combustible house.
8 scans of the subjects, phenomena and practices:

Architecture is the external facade of the world where we live. It is fixed but the millions of new faces see it. Great architectural monuments are fascinating. What should outweigh the convenience and comfort or external form? Dense buildings or free-standing masterpieces of architecture?

Until the 18th century, Paris had been similar to the present Cairo with chaotic buildings, crooked streets and tight alleys. The king Louis the 17th saw complete hopelessness of further development of the city in this vein. Therefore, he invited German architect Haussmann to experiment with ridiculous buildings in the city centre and did a total remodeling with smooth and wide streets and boulevards. The result is Paris that we see today and it is the most beautiful city in the world now.

What would happen if the king did not have the courage to make decision about radical transformation of the city?


Architecture can uplift, can push, and can become an achievement of civilization or its shame. The Eiffel tower was considered a shame of France during the construction. Now it is a pride and symbol of the country!

Architecture/Urban Studies/Futurology

Architecture is an art to create new forms and meanings. This is an area of culture that carries beauty, evokes feelings, and creates mood and, in addition, there is a place of rest, work and relaxation. At the present stage of the world development, it is impossible to surprise person just with a big building, people need originality, impression, memorable forever.


There are several types of architecture:

• Architecture of big structures – public buildings, residential buildings, industrial buildings;

• Landscape architecture – gardens and parks with gazebos, bridges, fountains, stairs;

• Urban development – creation of new cities and towns, reconstruction of old cities and towns, creation of quarters.

Architecture creates the contours of towns and villages, reflecting the entire historical epochs with state structure, ideology, worldview, culture.


The essence of the architect profession is to search of the best versions with the most harmonious combination of parts and details of future architectural works.

The main artistic tool for emotional impact on the viewer is a shape of the building and elements. It can be heavy or light, calm or dynamic, monochromatic or color. However, the individual parts should be consistent with each other and in general with all the building, creating a single impression of harmony. This is possible to achieve using different artistic techniques: symmetric and asymmetric composition, horizontal and vertical rhythm, light and color.

The perception of architectural structures depends largely on composition – forms, premises of the group, drawing external volume, details. All this determines the appearance of the building – solemn, strict, festive, lyrical or another.

The purpose and design of the structures, climate of the area where the construction is performed, and the environment of the future building determine the shape and size of the construction as well as finishing details. The function of the structures affects their composition, creating a distinctive look.

Modern technique is playing a big role in the architecture especially in connection with the construction of skyscrapers. It is not only new designs and materials, powerful construction machines but also computer technology.

What is the world of modern "architecture on the brink of the future"?

First, this is bionic architecture. With each passing day, the need to use mobile buildings increases as well as prefabricated buildings. This modular frame construction is according to Canadian-Finnish technology.

Secondly, architects and designers appeal to nature – it is beneficial economically and fashionable, but difficult in the sense of mathematical calculations.

The structural forms of nature and "the terrain" are the prototypes of these systems in many cases. For example, in the David Fisher's project natural dynamics is embodied as:

Thirdly, the environmental projects are high technological. Interaction of environmental technology and architecture creates projects similar to the project of Japanese architectural Kengo Kuma Studio + associates for Museum of art in Taipei (Taiwan).

New Taipei city museum of art is the embodiment of different eco-innovations. Building lighting is based on LEDs, which draw energy from solar panels, a huge area of the roof and facade is devoted to green space:


The concept of modern urban planning is "Not nature adapts to the urban environment but the urban environment fits into it." The features of a landscape are mostly used as well as natural and climatic features of the area. An example – Mentougouecovalley – the environmental project of green valley in Mentougou (Beijing, China), developed by the Finnish architectural Studio Erikssonarchitects.


The project has been prepared for implementation. It is awaiting approval by the Chinese government. As it has already been mentioned, all objects embedded in a green valley are the experiment with forms, environmental technology, materials and typologies of construction. The most advanced design of energy saving systems and environmental sustainability of buildings will be implemented on the territory of Mentougouecovalley.


The project of the hotel in a flooded quarry at the foot of mount Tianmashan in Shanghai is the same type of architecture. This is the project where the original form of career will remain intact.


Another example: building the Dragonfly will allow "combining" urban activities and agriculture. Because it accommodates office space and farms, including vertical!



What incredible architectural buildings have you seen?


Why did people build the first houses? Of course, for protection from animals and natural disasters! Then man learned how to build not only walls and ceiling but give home some form that led to the styles. Today we are interested in the past and contemporary architectural styles, among which there are ecological architecture, minimalism, high-tech, brutalism, Art Deco, neo-expressionism, and many others.

Here are some of them. With advancement of technology, there are more and more pollution of the environment. Therefore, we know that we need to change something. For example, we can build houses with environmentally friendly materials, equipped with energy supply systems. Not only such houses but also offices are becoming more and more popular today in Europe. It seems like buildings merge with nature, we can say that nature penetrates inside these buildings. This is eco architecture.

For example, Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has developed a futuristic multifunctional complex "TheGateResidence" for Cairo, capital of Egypt.


Eco-building will be equipped with solar panels, wind turbines and heating panels to generate electricity for residents or to direct air flow with temperature gradient. Due to the ground loops for geothermal heat pumps will move heat energy between the building and the earth for heating or cooling apartments and other premises, as well as providing hot water.

Deconstructivism. There are visual complexity, broken unexpected and deliberately destructive forms, and emphasized the aggressive invasion in the urban environment. Zaha Hadid is a bright representative of this style. She is Iraqi architect who currently lives and works in the UK. She is known as the first female architect who received the Pritzker prize (equivalent of the Nobel Prize in architecture). Zaha Hadid works in the style of deconstructivism, and her projects are always recognizable.


"Without corners" – in such way a concept could be called developed by Zaha Hadid Architects (critically minded colleagues often called Hadid's objects "remnants"). However, Patrick Schumacher has proposed more graceful term "panoramic architecture".

Hi-tech. The main features of the style are:

• High technology is used in the design, construction and engineering buildings and structures.

• The emphasis is on functionality.

• Preference is given to glass, metal, plastic, concrete and other artificial surfaces. The style defies trends using natural materials.

• Ugly technical details are not hidden: in the centuryof high technology they are decoration. Ventilation shafts and piping are decorated, painted in different colors. Therefore, such a construction does not detract from the overall impressions of the facilities, but also have aesthetic value.

British are the main theorists and practitioners of high-tech — Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw.


The lighting becomes the most important tool in creating unique visual effects in combination with functionality.

Brutalism (modern understanding of modernism). The peak of popularity of this style was in the 50-ies (ХХ century). It is characterized by interest in local color, plastic catchy "modernist" form. Brutalism contrasted the awe-inspiring power of structures and volumes, large-scale compositional decisions.

For example, one of the most popular themes for brutalism used in projects of administrative and public buildings is a stepped pyramid. It is inverted base up or raised above the ground on pylons. Le Corbusier is one of the brightest representatives of this style of architecture. For example, the Church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy, France:


Expressionism. It is an architectural style of the First World War period and the 1920-ies in Germany ("brick expressionism"), the Netherlands (Amsterdam school). Distortion characteristic of traditional architectural forms is suitable for this style. The building was distorted for maximum emotional impact on the viewer.

The preference is often given to the architectural forms, causing natural landscapes in memory (mountains, cliffs, caves, stalactites). Erich Mendelssohn is one of the representatives of this direction. Here is one of his creations: the Einstein Tower – the astrophysical observatory in the science Albert Einstein Park in the German city of Potsdam. The great physicist had never worked in the Tower, but enthusiastically supported the idea of the construction and operation.


Minimalism. It is a direction in architecture, which tends to "pure functionality" and avoids the decor. This style of architecture is designed to "warm people" (to be good material for them) than to "warm hearts" with aesthetics.

The example is Alejandro Aravena, the Pritzker award winner 2016. His company is engaged in the construction of social housing, public spaces and infrastructure. The jury believes that Alejandro Aravena is different between others because of his interest in the construction of affordable housing.

For example, the architect and his team have designed about 2500 apartments and single-family houses. These projects are not successful due to the professional architectural approach only, but thanks to the contributions of local residents. The residential complex Villa Verde Housing in Chile is the best example. This project has changed the view of a typical home. Aravena with partners has built half the house, leaving space for the second part. By agreement, the inhabitants had to finish the second part.


This decision helped to keep a limited budget and to save typical construction from the monotony. According to Thomas Pritzker, Alejandro Aravena demonstrates how architecture can improve people's lives.


We can say that the economy and architecture are two integral concepts, although they are the antipodes. Architects do not want to think about economy, believing that it can limit the creativity. In addition, customers, taking care of benefits, frequently reduce budget of architectural delights. Therefore, we can assume that the economy forms the architecture, and the architecture generates economic value. With the help of modern architectural construction, different countries of the world are trying to establish themselves in economic competition, that is, to show that they have a high urban development potential. Many Asian countries are among these countries: Japan, China, Singapore, UAE, and Australia, USA, UK, etc.

In ancient times, interested parties were able to count the money. Large sums for the construction were discussed publicly. The fate of the future masterpieces depended on the budget. Beginning construction, the architect called the sum. However, since in those days, as it is now, the creation was difficult process, so the initial cost could be increased by 25%. It was written off for unexpected costs.

If the final cost had not exceeded the amount pledged, no one had problems. However, exceeding the budget was quite unpleasant moment for architect. Undesirable consequences could happen. Overspending was collected from the author of the project but it was not the main problem. Because the main thing – in those days it was the chief – architect lost prestige! Moreover, of course, he lost future orders. Special laws were issued. The great architects of the Renaissance remembered about these "harsh but fair" laws with great sadness. During those days, that problem was still relevant.

The cost of building was determined at auction (economic competition). It had been before the contract for the construction of buildings appeared. For example, there are known cases, when "successful" projects cost half the price of "losing" projects, not yielding to them by other criteria. At those days, calculations were known for good accuracy that our contemporaries note.



Modern architecture of many countries as well as old is very recognizable. Seeing the building, we can almost accurately guess the country. Let us go in the "architectural cruise"!

Italy. The "Romanesque" style is a calling card of Italy. It is the first monumental architectural style of the Christian West. The architecture has strongly expressed religious orientation. Romanesque Basilica was a symbol of social and cultural unification of the country. The Romanesque style was replaced by classicism with its grandeur, symmetry and detail. The buildings are recognizable, too. There are some characteristic features.

Does Italy have modern architectural "calling card"? Yes, there are many "cards". Here are some of them:


Germany. Gothic style is combined with classical and traditional buildings of old European cities:

What is the modern German city?


England. Talking about the typical English landscape, most people immediately think about Victorian mansion or English cottage:


What architectural masterpieces are in modern England?


France. Louvre, Versailles, Loire castles – these words describe French architecture:

What architectural masterpieces are in modern France?


Spain. Historic Spanish architecture is a symbiosis of European and Arab styles:

However, Barcelona is the "calling card" of contemporary Spanish architecture, largely thanks to incomparable Antoni Gaudi:

China. Historical buildings are easily recognizable, though it has some peculiarities depending on the province:

What architectural masterpieces are in modern China?


Japan. Historical Japanese architecture is the result of the Japanese way of life, mentality and philosophy:

There are some examples of modern Japanese architecture:



Spend a self-study. Select one of the countries of the world and make a compilation of information about historic architecture and recognizable modern architectural objects. Create a presentation. What events and factors could affect the formation of such architectural appearance?


Close relationship between architecture and mathematics has long been known. Geometry was one of the sections of the architecture in Ancient Greece. The architect should have known about different ratios of rhythmic rows that make the object the most harmonious and expressive. In addition, he had to know analytical geometry and mathematical analysis, fundamentals of higher algebra and matrix theory, to know the methods of mathematical modeling and optimization. During training of architects abroad, great attention is paid to mathematical training and computer knowledge.

Sometimes architect has to do a lot of extra work due to insufficient knowledge of mathematics. Sometimes even houses were collapsed because of incorrect calculations.

Since ancient times people (when erecting their homes) thought about their strength and durability. People spent enormous effort to build the house; therefore, they were interested in the fact that it will stay as long as possible.

The Egyptian pyramids are the most durable architectural building from ancient times. As you know, they have the shape of regular quadrangular pyramids.


This geometric shape provides the greatest stability due to large base area. On the other hand, the pyramid shape provides reduction of mass with increasing height above the ground. These two properties make a pyramid stable and hence robust in conditions of terrestrial gravity.

This is one of the first designs that were used in the construction of buildings and represents structures that consist of vertical uprights and overlying horizontal beam. The first such structure was a religious building – the dolmen.

The most famous cromlech has been preserved in the village of Stonehenge in England. Some scientists believe that it was an ancient astronomical observatory.


It should be noted that post and beam construction is still the most common. What about stone – is it the main building material of the past?

Stone does not work on a bend, but works well for compression. This has led to arches and vaults in architecture. Thus a new arch-vaulted construction was appeared. With the advent of the arch-vaulted construction circles, spheres and circular cylinders went in architecture of straight lines and planes. Semicircular arches or hemispherical domes were used in architecture. This means that the boundary of the arch was a semicircle, and the dome – half sphere.


For example, Pantheon has a hemispherical dome – the temple of all gods in Rome. The diameter of the dome is 43 m. The height of the walls equals to the radius of the hemisphere dome. In this regard, it turns out that the building of this temple was “thrown” on a ball with a diameter of 43 m.

Modern architectural complexes are striking, because they are built not only on land but also at sea. Why? Firstly, land is expensive. Secondly, an exotic structure can be much more profitable to sell.

It is popular to build unique buildings in the Arab countries.

One company built "Palm tree", the other developer is building "Peace" at a sea.


One Sheikh built the only 7-stars hotel and another Sheikh is building the world's tallest tower Burj Khalifa:

When the Sheikh of Saudi Arabia died, his son decided to perpetuate his memory in a strange way. He thought but nothing could come up. Then he announced the world competition: "Who can propose the project of a building that is impossible to build!"...

During two years, the son was receiving different projects, but there were nothing to be interested in. In addition, once the super-project was submitted. The author wrote that world-famous tower of Pisa has leaned so that is about to go down, it has a slope of 12 degrees.


Moreover, he can build a high building with a slope of 18 degrees. No one believed that it was possible. However, he won the contest and built this building. Here it is:



How do you think he succeeded?

Here is the answer:


Not only the angles and axes, diameters are important in architecture. A plane is the most common surface. The intersection of planes gives the variety of architectural forms we are faced today. What are the basic laws of geometry planes?

• Plane — surface containing each line, connecting any of points

• Two planes are either parallel or intersect in a straight

• Straight can be parallel to the plane or intersects it in one point, or is on a plane

• Two lines perpendicular to the same plane are parallel to each other

• Two planes perpendicular to the same straight line are parallel to each other

The plane is described by the general equation:


How can the planes be relative to each other?


How can we describe such variants of the mutual arrangement of the planes?



Let's look at the one of the most impressive or nearby buildings. What are the planes restricted to the surface? Make a "list" of types of the mutual arrangement of building surfaces. With what dependencies or equations can they be described?


How do the architects manage to create modern design masterpieces? It is helped that the drawing boards, drafting pens and slate pencils have gone down in history. Special computer programs replaced them! For Example, "ArchiCAD". This is professional set of tools for designing in the field of architecture, construction and design. The software product is aimed at professional architects and designers. ArchiCAD is a program for three-dimensional modeling, complex turnkey solutions, allowing full documentation of the construction from floor plans and sections of buildings to the specifications of materials and construction documents.

Is it possible to design a building using a mobile phone? It is possible! There are programs – mobile application allowing users to design houses and share information about projects in social networks, to discuss them.

For example, Sketch Up Mobile Viewer was released especially for lovers of applications. It provides access to work with files in any location of the globe. This is a mobile version of the famous program in architectural circles, and now it can be used in any smart phone.


How does it work?

Morpholio Trace is one of the most beloved and popular apps for sketching and creating free sketches:


This app allows users to create sketches on the imported images, leave comments and share ideas underlying the intelligent thumbnail.

How does it work?


What should be a modern architectural program? What it should do? Try to write "requirements specification" for developers. Do not forget that the style of presentation should be clear, unambiguous, logical and consistent; otherwise it will be a fancy essay, but not RS.


Sometimes, looking at the incredible graceful architectural masterpieces – arches, people are asking: "How can this beauty withstand the load of the entire building?". So, how is it possible?


The answer is in the mechanics of deformation and stress of the arches. Because an arch is a curved beam of a smooth contour that experiences shear stress. Therefore, horizontal support reaction (thrust) arises. The arch operates more compression and less bending under vertical load.


Each type of arches has advantages and disadvantages. The choice of a particular design is determined by strength requirements.


These complex calculations are behind the apparent lightness and delicacy!


While you are walking, pay attention to the arches of buildings. What is the form? What form is the most popular? Why?

Is it possible to make houses resistant to fire? It is possible! There are special materials like flame-retardants. For example:

Natural materials are treated with flame-retardants in the form of impregnation. However, flame-retardants are added at the stage of polymerization to synthetic polymers. Sodium tetraborate and ammonium phosphate are the most common substance:


In general, many compounds of the halogens and antimony group are used:


How do flame-retardants work?

The first mechanism consists of the inhibition of free radical processes occurring during the decomposition of the material during combustion. This occurs due to the formation of substances that can interact with free radicals with the formation of radicals that are reactive less:


The second mechanism involves the formation of a protective layer on the surface of material impervious to oxygen or isolating the material from further heat.

Question. How do you think what flame-retardants were used during the construction of your home or school: powder or solutions? Look closely, what materials (natural or synthetic) were used more? This will be the key to the answer.

Lesson summary:


The content


The results of the lesson-case can be complemented by  findings of students



What three websites helped to find important information?






To help the student and the coach:








Where can you get information for the case?


























Location of the lesson:

Case-lesson takes place in the classroom. It is possible to conduct in the museum, the library.



Teams of boys and girls. The score was:....


  1. 1. Create your own "architectural design". What style would you like to choose?
  2. 2. What kind of architectural styles do you know? What architects worked? What buildings were constructed in these styles? (Each correct answer – 1 point, student with the higher number of points is a winner).



Prepare a message or a brief presentation about the architectural creation that you consider to be "the calling card" of your country, area or town. Be sure to specify the architect and style.



90 min (paired lesson)  


The possibility to conduct the lesson with a student-understudy  

It is possible.


The acquired knowledge and developed competence:

  • The ability to find necessary information quickly.
  • Obtaining of practical skills of application acquired information.
  • Obtaining specific knowledge in mathematics, geography, history and other sections (scans).



Deconstruction, modernism, brutalism, architecture, classicism, Romanesque style, hi-tech, minimalism, plane, angle, geometric shape, arch, point, voltage, flame retardant





Participated in the case upgrading:



The End

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