Since the 1980s, as the complexity of buildings began to increase (in terms of structural systems, services, energy and technologies), the field of architecture became multi-disciplinary with specializations for each project type, technological expertise or project delivery methods. In addition, there has been an increased separation of the ‘design’ architect from the ‘project’ architect who ensures that the project meets the required standards and deals with matters of liability. The preparatory processes for the design of any large building have become increasingly complicated, and require preliminary studies of such matters as durability, sustainability, quality, money, and compliance with local laws. A large structure can no longer be the design of one person but must be the work of many. Modernism and Postmodernism, have been criticised by some members of the architectural profession, such as Christopher Alexander, who felt that successful architecture was not a personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individualists; rather it had to consider everyday needs of people and use technology to create liveable environments, with the design process being informed by studies of behavioral, environmental, and social sciences.
Environmental sustainability has become a mainstream issue, with profound affect on the architectural profession. Within the past several decades, architects have realized that buildings must take into account their effect upon the environment. Major examples of this can be found in greener roof designs, biodegradable materials,and more attention to a structure’s energy usage. This major shift in architecture has also changed architecture schools to focus more on the environment. Sustainability in architecture was pioneered byFrank Lloyd Wright, in the 1960s by Buckminster Fuller and in the 1970s by architects such as Ian McHarg and Sim Van der Ryn in the US and Brenda and Robert Vale in the UK and New Zealand. There has been an acceleration in the number of buildings which seek to meetgreen building sustainable design principles. Sustainable practices that were at the core of vernacular architecture increasingly provide inspiration for environmentally and socially sustainable contemporary techniques. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has been instrumental in this. An example of an architecturally innovative green building is the Dynamic Tower which will be powered by wind turbines and solar panels.
Modern concepts of architecture-
The great 19th century architect of skyscrapers, Louis Sullivan, promoted an overriding precept to architectural design: “Form follows function”.
While the notion that structural and aesthetic considerations should be entirely subject to functionality was met with both popularity and skepticism, it had the effect of introducing the concept of “function” in place of Vitruvius’ “utility”. “Function” came to be seen as encompassing all criteria of the use, perception and enjoyment of a building, not only practical but also aesthetic, psychological and cultural.
Nunzia Rondanini stated, “Through its aesthetic dimension architecture goes beyond the functional aspects that it has in common with other human sciences. Through its own particular way of expressing values, architecture can stimulate and influence social life without presuming that, in and of itself, it will promote social development.’
To restrict the meaning of (architectural) formalism to art for art’s sake is not only reactionary; it can also be a purposeless quest for perfection or originality which degrades form into a mere instrumentality”.
Among the philosophies that have influenced modern architects and their approach to building design are rationalism, empiricism, structuralism, poststructuralism, and phenomenology.
In the late 20th century a new concept was added to those included in the compass of both structure and function, the consideration of sustainability. To satisfy the contemporary ethos a building should be constructed in a manner which is environmentally friendly in terms of the production of its materials, its impact upon the natural and built environment of its surrounding area and the demands that it makes upon non-sustainable power sources for heating, cooling, water and waste management and lighting.