Minimalism in the architecture: from Minimum details to Maximum freedom

Interest in minimalism persisted throughout its existence; positions of the once avant-garde trend are firmly entrenched in modern architecture. People planning to build their own homes consider minimalism among the proposed options. To be imbued with the charm of the style, you need to get acquainted with its origins, to understand the basic principles and methods of facade design.

Origins, history and architects

The features of minimalism in architecture first appeared in constructivism, an innovative architectural trend of the 1920s. The Dutch artists who united around the magazine “Style” in 1917-1928 had a great influence on the formation of minimalism. Unlike Soviet constructivism, which was based on engineering concepts, in the Netherlands, the ideas of the mystical philosophical system of a local theosophist were taken as a basis. The artists developed the basic principles of the style: asceticism of forms, purity of lines, and colors. The ideas of the Dutch were further spread, they were picked up and developed by German and French architects:

  • Walter Gropius. German architect. Designed residential, factory and commercial buildings in Germany, Belgium and Austria. Author of projects for Greek hotels, as well as the Baumfeld house in Berlin. In 1930 he took part in the competition for the projects of the theater building for Kharkov and the Palace of Soviets for Moscow.
Department store designed by Gropius
  • Bruno Taut. The architect, originally from Germany, became famous thanks to the residential complex he designed in the suburb of Berlin – the village of Khufaysen. The residential areas of Berlin, in the creation of which Taut took part, were later included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Erich Mendelsohn German architect of Polish origin, author of numerous industrial buildings. The famous ones include the Einstein Tower (observatory in Potsdam), the Mosse house in Berlin, and the hat factory in Luckenwalde. He also designed the building of the power station of the textile factory “Red Banner” in St. Petersburg.
  • Le Corbusier French architect was one of the initiators of the international style, a kind of minimalism. The author of the concept of a “residential block” – an apartment building with shops, post office, cafes located inside. One of the well-known implemented projects is the Marseille block, completed in 1952. Author of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. A modernist architect who worked in Germany and Russia and migrated to the United States before the war. Known for projects of private houses and Chicago skyscrapers. The famous work (and the prototype of numerous office buildings) was the Seagram Building in New York.
Private Villa Tugendhat in Brno

Basic principles

The name of the style describes a certain way of life, which involves the rejection of the excesses of modern civilization. External simplicity with a minimum of details and an extremely limited color gamut does not make the style boring, but it helps to put your thoughts in order.

One of the main features of the minimalism style in architecture is its versatility. Buildings with the most simplified forms can be found anywhere in the world; and it will not only be shopping malls, skyscrapers, and factory halls. More and more private houses appear, whose owners liked the rejection of the classic form.

There are several modern architectural concepts of a minimalist direction, among which the European and Japanese schools stand out for their interesting solutions. Despite some differences, it is easy to highlight the basic principles in them:

  • Maximum simplification of the form. Minimalism in the exterior is horizontal and vertical. Since a simple shape is chosen for every detail of the building, the style is composed exclusively of clear lines and flat surfaces.
Panoramic glazing project
  • Disregard for decor. It is useless to look for smooth lines in strict outlines. When designing a house, the architect abandons any decorative elements in favor of ideal proportions of shape and color.
  • Functionality. One of the sources of minimalism was once functionalism with its strict correspondence between form and purpose. Therefore, it is also encouraged to perform several functions here. If there is a roof, then with an observation deck, if the floor is heated (and you can do without a radiator).
  • Additional techniques. In a logical space, light is of great importance. A variety of lamps are successfully used both in the interior and for illumination of the facade.
Interesting choice of shape

Features of the choice of color and material

The color scheme follows the shape – it is also minimal. The color palette ideally contains two basic, rarely more, colors: white, black, shades of gray (but far from 50). The Japanese style direction proposes to dilute the palette with soft tones characteristic of natural materials. Of course, for the human mind, such a picture looks somewhat monotonous, so a bright accent is allowed, but only one (we are talking about minimalism). It can be a picture on the wall, a lamp, or a chair.

The pedigree of minimalism involves the use of not only natural but also durable modern materials in construction. Technologists allow using recycled materials, for example, using white or black marble chips for flooring. Favorite materials include glass, stone, wood; chrome-plated steel is preferred from metals.

Private house projects in the style of minimalism

The average area of ​​a minimalist cottage is up to 100 m2, a residential building – up to 500 m2. The area of ​​a country house reaches, on average, 400 squares (if you take into account the utility rooms). In the last decade, there has been a steady demand for mini buildings in the style of minimalism with an area of ​​up to 70 squares.

At first glance, there is nothing incomprehensible in such a house. In fact, there are certain design techniques, deviating from which will turn the house into an ordinary box on which the gaze slides without stopping. The thoughtful architect maintains perfect geometric shapes and skillfully sets accents. The features of individual and typical projects include the following features:

  • Number of storeys. One, rarely two floors, which is also due to the convenience of life.
  • Horizontal roof. Style encourages versatility in every possible way; the flat roof is ideal for an observation deck or terrace.
Home for a zombie apocalypse
  • Walls. Structures with monolithic bearing columns and reinforced concrete floors are widespread. To fill the walls, concrete or ceramic blocks, bricks are chosen.
  • Details. The windows are as large as possible, panoramic glazing is often found. The doors are simple, sometimes sliding or glass.
  • Finishing. The basic rule is a minimum of textures. Light plaster is usually chosen; for contrast, decorative wood-like panels, clinker (brick) tiles, decorative stone are used.

The main element of the interior facade decoration (from the side of the courtyard or terrace) is often glass, which sometimes can occupy a significant area. Some important elements of minimalism come from Asian culture. These include the familiar terraces, built-in wardrobes that free up space, and practical slide doors.

Varieties of style

With the exception of some details, all varieties of style are united by strict geometry, which greatly facilitates the operation of the house, from rearranging furniture to renovation. In addition to the usual, “classic” minimalism, the architecture includes other directions. In the last 50 years, the following forms of style have emerged and taken root:

  • Eco-minimalism. The house fits into the relief as much as possible, plants are used to the maximum inside and outside. Finishing is carried out mainly with natural materials, and in the first place is their quality as texture. Metal, and even more so, plastic should be avoided.
Eco style

Scandinavian minimalism. An interesting offshoot, more related to the interior. The architectural project is practically indistinguishable from the European variety, except that light wood is more readily used in the decoration, and energy-saving double-glazed windows are placed on the windows, taking into account the climate.

Scandinavian style

Japanese minimalism. Extreme rationality is characteristic – each object is in its place. The design is also restrained; all that can linger on is a lonely plant or a hieroglyph inscribed on rice paper. In general, the view is much simpler, if not austere, than in other style solutions.

Japanese Minimalism


Minimalism was born in the chaos of historical changes, as an attempt and a way to streamline life. Today’s avalanche of information, under which, one way or another, everyone falls, causes a burning desire to take a break and emerge from the stream. This is the attractiveness of the style – in the opportunity to feel harmony and freedom, to relax and think.

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