The Evolution of Minimalist Architecture: From Mies Rohe to Tadao Ando

1. Introduction

The last century was marked by a sharp increase in technological progress, which led to the development of new building materials and construction techniques. This, in turn, resulted in significant changes in architecture and design. In particular, it gave rise to a new architectural style – minimalism.

The main features of minimalist architecture are simplicity and functionality. This style is characterized by clean lines, lack of superfluous details and decoration, use of basic geometric shapes. Minimalist buildings are often compared to works of art – they are designed to emphasize the beauty of simple forms and the harmony of space.

In this essay, we will focus on two pioneers of minimalist architecture – Mies Rohe and Ray Eames. We will trace the development of their ideas and examine some of their most famous works. In particular, we will consider the Vuitton Foundation by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the Eames House by Charles and Ray Eames, and the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Rohe. We will also take a look at the reconstruction of the Barcelona Pavilion, which was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

2. Mies Rohe and the Development of Modern Minimalist Architecture

Mies Rohe is one of the most renowned architects of the 20th century. He is considered to be one of the founders of modernist architecture and a pioneer of minimalism. His work was characterized by simplicity, clarity of form, and a focus on functionality.

Mies Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, Germany. He studied architecture at several different schools before eventually settling on the Berliner Technische Hochschule (nowadays known as the Technical University of Berlin). After graduating in 1912, he began working for several different architects, including Peter Behrens, for whom he worked on various industrial projects.

In 1918, Mies Rohe opened his own architectural firm in Berlin. His early work was heavily influenced by traditional German architecture as well as English Arts and Crafts Movement. However, he soon began to develop his own unique style, which would come to be known as neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity). This style was characterized by simplicity, functionality, and a focus on essential forms.

In 1924, Mies Rohe participated in an international competition for the design of an office building for The Bank of Manhattan Company in New York City. Although he didn’t win the competition, his design caught the attention of many influential people in the United States. As a result, he was invited to teach at several American universities, including Cornell University and Curtiss Wright Technical Institute.

In 1929, Mies Rohe returned to Germany to take up the position of director at Bauhaus – one of the most influential art schools of the time. The school had been founded with the aim of combining art and technology to create a new form of art that would be accessible to everyone. Under Mies Rohe’s leadership, Bauhaus became even more influential, attracting students from all over the world.

During his time at Bauhaus, Mies Rohe developed many ideas that would later come to define minimalism in architecture. In particular, he emphasised simplicity and functionality as well as the use of new materials and construction techniques. He also believed that buildings should be designed to meet the needs of the people who use them, rather than to satisfy the aesthetic preferences of the architect.

In 1933, the Nazi Party came to power in Germany and began to persecute the members of Bauhaus. As a result, Mies Rohe was forced to close the school and move to the United States. There he continued to work on developing his ideas about minimalism in architecture.

Some of Mies Rohe’s most famous works include the Seagram Building in New York City (1958), the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (1968), and the Barcelona Pavilion (1929). The latter was designed for the International Exhibition in Barcelona and was intended to be a temporary structure. However, it was so successful that it was later reconstructed (although not without some controversy – we will return to this later).

3. Ray Eames and His Contributions to Modern Design

Ray Eames is another important figure in the history of modern design. She was born in 1912 in Sacramento, California. She studied at several different art schools before eventually enrolling at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where she met her future husband, Charles Eames.

After graduating from Cranbrook in 1940, Ray and Charles Eames moved to Venice, California, where they opened their own architectural office. During the Second World War, they worked on various government projects, including designing splints and stretchers for the military.

In 1946, Charles and Ray Eames designed their first piece of furniture – a molded plywood chair. This chair was revolutionary at the time because it was made using a new technique that allowed for curved plywood to be molded into shape under heat and pressure. The chairs were originally designed for a competition organised by MoMA – although they didn’t win, they were later put into production and became hugely popular.

The Eameses continued to experiment with plywood and other materials over the next few years, designing various pieces of furniture as well as exhibition displays and interiors for corporate clients such as IBM and Pepsi-Cola. In 1950, they designed one of their most famous pieces – the aluminum-and-leather lounge chair, which is now considered to be an icon of mid-century modern design.

In addition to their work in furniture design, Charles and Ray Eames also made significant contributions to architecture and film. They designed several famous buildings, including the Case Study House #8 (also known as the Eames House) in Pacific Palisades, California. They also produced a number of short films, most notably Powers of Ten (1977), which explores the relative scale of the universe.

Charles Eames died in 1978, but Ray continued to work until her death in 1988. Their legacy continues to this day – their work is highly respected and admired by architects, designers, and art lovers all over the world.

4. The Vuitton Foundation by Japanese Architect Tadao Ando

The Vuitton Foundation is a museum located in Paris, France. It was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and completed in 2014.

The museum is situated on the edge of Bois de Boulogne – one of Paris’s largest parks. The building is composed of two rectangular volumes – one made of concrete and glass, and the other of aluminum and glass. The two volumes are connected by a series of bridges and walkways.

The concrete volume houses the museum’s main galleries, while the aluminum volume contains offices, meeting rooms, and other support spaces. The museum also has an outdoor sculpture garden and an auditorium.

The Vuitton Foundation is an excellent example of Tadao Ando’s unique architectural style. The building makes use of simple geometric forms and elemental materials to create a harmonious and elegant whole. The use of glass gives the building a light and airy feel, while the concrete provides a sense of solidity and permanence.

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the Vuitton Foundation is also highly functional. The museum’s galleries are flexible and can be reconfigured to suit the needs of any given exhibition. The building is also designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, with features such as anearth-cooled roof and solar panels.

5. The Eames House by Charles and Ray Eames

The Eames House is a landmark of mid-century modern architecture. It was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1945 and built in 1948.

The house is located in Pacific Palisades, California, on a lot that is just 50 feet (15 meters) wide and 100 feet (30 meters) long. Despite its relatively small size, the house contains three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.

The house is constructed primarily from wood and glass. The use of these materials gives the house a light and airy feel. The exterior of the house is clad in vertical wooden boards, which provide privacy while still allowing natural light to enter the interior spaces.

The layout of the house is based on a modular grid system that allows for great flexibility in the use of space. The modular units can be rearranged to suit the needs of any given activity or event.

In addition to its flexible layout, the Eames House is also notable for its ingenious use of technology. For example, the house is equipped with a built-in sound system that allows music to be played in any room. There is also a retractable shade system that can be used to control the amount of sunlight entering the house.

The Eames House is a remarkable example of Charles and Ray Eames’s unique approach to design. Their use of simple materials and innovative technologies resulted in a house that was both beautiful and highly functional.

6. The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Rohe

The Barcelona Pavilion was designed by Mies Rohe for the International Exhibition in Barcelona in 1929. It was intended to be a temporary structure, but it was so successful that it was later reconstructed (although not without some controversy – we will return to this later).

The pavilion is rectangular in shape and measures just over 50 feet (15 meters) wide by 98 feet (30 meters) long. It is constructed primarily from marble, glass, and steel. The use of these materials gives the pavilion a feeling of lightness and transparency.

The pavilion has two main levels – an upper level containing a throne room and reception area, and a lower level containing a pool and garden. A series of marble steps leads down


Minimalism in architecture is a movement that began in the early 20th century. It was characterized by simple, clean lines and a focus on function over form.

Some of the most famous minimalists architects include Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

They chose to pursue a minimalist approach because they believed that buildings should be designed for their function, not for their appearance.

Their buildings reflect their philosophy by being simple and unadorned.

I do think minimalism is still relevant today because its focus on function over form is something that is still important in architecture.

Some examples of contemporary architecture that takes a minimalist approach include the Apple Store in New York City and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.