The 20th century has made more difference than any other of the time eras in terms of the way people live. The forums and scale of modern architecture have transformed existing towns and cities and created new ones.
While local traditions of buildings and design did not entirely die out, and throughout the century, revivals of earlier styles continued, Modernism became the first truly international style, with broadly similar products originating in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia.
As the name suggests, Art Nouveau, or "New Art", was seen as an entirely new style in both architecture and the decorative arts. Although it owed some inspiration to Celtic art and to the Gothic Revival return to naturalism, its whiplash curves and motifs were entirely original.
This style emerged fully formed in Brussels in 1892 with the flowing forms of the ironwork and mosaics of the Tassel house, designed by Victor Horta (1861 - 1947). It achieved its fullest expression in Paris following the Exposition Universelle of 1889, particular in the Metro stations and entrances by Hector Guimard (1867 - 1942) and in the architecture of Antonio Goudi (1852 - 1926) in Barcelona.
Different expressions of the Art Nouveau spirit were taking place in Austria and Scotland. In 1905, the Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffman (1870 - 1956) designed the Palais Stoclet, a large branded house in Brussels. This generally shows precursors of Modernism.
The central idea of Modernism was that the beauty of designed objects, such as buildings and furniture, depended on the extent to which they functioned as well. Thus it was a moral and aesthetic imperative that the form of a building should reflect its' function and express its' construction.
Modern architectural art can now be found almost anywhere and in different forms and sizes. From simple gateways to monolithic structures and skyscrapers. These structures are often, if not always, made part of the "must-see" places in travelers' guide books and are definitely not just for the architecturally smitten, but for all world travelers to enjoy.
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