Minimalist Architects – Their Creativity and Influence

Minimalist architects are the creators of simple, open designs in buildings from houses to business towers.  If you’re a fan of the minimalist movement and are looking to optimize a floorplan in your home or office, get ready to learn more about what minimalist architects can do for you.

Minimalist architects use simple designs and natural materials for creating structures from homes to office buildings.  Common elements of their designs include open floor plans, natural light, simple materials, and geometric forms.

Do you have a keen interest in the minimalist movement?  Have you practiced minimalism with your decorations, wardrobe, and lifestyle and want to do the same with your home or office?

What is a Minimalist Architect?

A minimalist architect is one who believes in using natural materials and simplicity in the design and building of structures.  From homes to office buildings, a minimalist architect will use simple lines and uncluttered floor plans that are typical of the minimalist lifestyle.  These architects will create buildings out of only the necessary materials, using the “less is more” philosophy. 

If you’re interested in sustainability and simplicity, a minimalist architect might be just what you need for your next design. Minimalist architecture focuses on essential elements. The goal is to create spaces that are uncluttered and functional. They carefully consider connecting space, light, and materials to form beauty.

Minimal concrete building - Minimal Architecture - Gone Minimal
Minimal concrete building

Common Elements Minimalist Architects Use in Their Designs

Beyond using only the necessary materials and simple designs, there are several common elements that minimalist architects will use when designing these structures.  These include:

  • Clean and sleek lines
  • Open floor plans defined by only furniture or building elements
  • Little or no ornamentation or trim
  • Simple materials including concrete, stone, glass, and steel
  • Exposure of structural systems
  • Unified elements through repetition
  • Geometric forms
  • Efficient and orthogonal (right angle) structures

So unlike built-in bookshelves, ornamental trim and casing, and fancy architectural arches and supports, these minimalist designs don’t look like your typical homes.  They might be perceived as unfriendly, unwelcoming, or even cold in comparison to the standard homes and buildings you see in most neighborhoods.  However, these elements make the structures beautiful in their simplicity, true to minimalist form. 

Benefits of the Spaces Created by Minimalist Architects

Let’s go beyond beauty in simplicity-what can minimalist architecture do for you?  There are many benefits of the spaces created by minimalist architects.  From simple designs to uncluttered walls, the minimalist design of homes and offices can offer you some of these and more:

  • Lots of natural light
  • Wide open spaces that flow
  • Natural elements and materials
  • Durability in structure
  • Increased sustainability
  • Optimized spaces means money saved
  • Decorated walls through textured materials
  • Timeless elegance through simplicity

These spaces can also save money because they are quicker and easier to clean (less built-ins and walls mean less surfaces), which saves you time to do the things that really matter to you.  Minimalist spaces are also very flexible in that they can be defined in multiple ways-wide open with minimal furniture to defined spaces with strategically placed furniture.  It’s completely up to you how to create and decorate (or not) these spaces!

Minimal high-rise - Minimalist Architect - Gone Minimal
Minimal high-rise

Popular Minimalist Architects

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) is credited with being the earliest pioneer of modernism in architecture.  Mies was one of the last directors of Bauhaus, which was a modern art and architecture school known for ground-breaking design and modernism.  After emigrating to the US after WWII at the age of 58, Mies brought with him his architectural style that made statements with simplicity, maturity, and modern materials with minimal framework and open, free-flowing spaces. 

His designs are found all over the world from the Villa Wolf in Gubin, Poland (his first house with a modernist design) and S.R. Crown Hall in Chicago (regarded as his best work) as well as Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the New National Gallery in Berlin. 

Alberto Campo Baeza (1946- ) is an architect from Spain who as part of a group of designers introduced minimalism to architecture in Madrid.  His works basically eliminate color to maximize natural light expression in architecture and are widely recognized.  Campo Baeza is highly regarded and has won many awards from the Biennial of Venice (2000) to the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize (2013). 

His works can be found in Madrid, Ohio, New York, Venice, and Granada as well as many others.  He has taught his methods in Zurich, Dublin, Naples, Virginia, Copenhagen, and Tokyo to name a few.

Brutalist concrete architecture - Minimalist Architects - Gone Minimal
Brutalist concrete architecture

Tadao Ando (1941- ) is a self-taught Japanese architect whose style is said to emphasize the beauty of simplicity through empty space.  His style reflects his Japanese culture, with focus on inner feelings and not outward appearance.  Ando’s work is highly influenced by Zen and can be seen at locations including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas, the Galleria Akka in Osaka, and numerous other structures and churches in Japan and other countries.  He has won numerous awards from the Gold Medal of Architecture in France in 1989 to the Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur in France in 2021.

Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) (1887-1965) was a Swiss-French designer and architect, regarded as a pioneer of modern architecture.  He was instrumental in urban planning in cities like Chandigarh (India) and created improved living conditions in crowded cities through minimalist multi-family buildings.  Also self-taught, his works were inspired by books and philosophy, and his houses built mainly of concrete and comprised of open floor plans, allowing infinite combinations through disassociation of structures from walls. 

Le Corbusier was also a painter and writer, but he is best known for his structures including the Ville Contemporaine in Paris, the Unite d’Habitation in Marseille, the United Nations headquarters, and the Palace of Assembly in India.

John Ward Pawson (1949- ) is a British architect known for his minimalist aesthetic and private house designs.  He has won many awards ranging from Blueprint Architect of the Year (2005) to German Design Council Interior Designer of the Year (2014).  Pawson has designed varied structures from a cake shop in London and the Madison Avenue ice palace to the Medina House in Tunis, but he is best known for his home designs that can be found around the world. 

His publication “Anatomy of Minimum” is an anthology of his career in recent domestic projects, even his own rural England home.  His creations range from compact apartments to repurposed museum structures, all defined by his minimalist style.

The informative video below explains minimalism as an architectural movement.

Quotes from Minimalist Architects

 1.  “In pure architecture the smallest detail should have a meaning or serve a purpose.” – Augustus W. M. Pugin 

2.  “The greatest architectural illusion is not Baroque fancy or Victorian flamboyant, but minimalism.” – Kevin McCloud

3.  “In the face of the economic plight, it is our task to become pioneers of simplicity, that is, to find a simple form for all of life’s necessities, which is at the same time respectable and genuine.” – Oskar Schlemmer

4.  “To change the dwelling is to change the city and to reform society.” – Tadao Ando

Other Resources:

As you can see, minimalist architects are creative at utilizing natural materials efficiently and sustainably to create spaces that work for simple living and working.  If you’re interested in creating or expanding your minimalist lifestyle with your home office or even your next living space, why not consider a minimalist architect for your design?  This could be good not only for you but for the environment!

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