Why Is Modern Architecture So Bad


Modern architecture is a contemporary style of building that emerged in the late 1930s. It is known for its simplistic but innovative designs that are often inspired by the early 20th century movements of the Bauhaus and the International Style. It is often seen as a product of modernism, an overarching concept that is used to express a sense of progress, innovation and experimentation. Unlike traditional architecture, modern architecture makes use of clean and sharp lines, along with a minimalistic approach to design. However, despite being lauded for its forward-thinking designs, modern architecture has been criticised for its lack of practicality and continuity with the environment.

Practicality and Functionality

Modern architecture is criticised for its lack of practicality and functionality. These designs often lack sustainability and are often seen as too ambitious and complex. As a result, they can become costly, and the high construction costs can be difficult to recoup. Furthermore, these designs are often unfeasible and unable to meet the needs of their users, often requiring extensive maintenance and costly repairs. This can lead to issues with aspects such as ventilation and insulation, leading to issues such as mold, increased energy costs and discomfort for those inhabiting the space.

Environment and Continuity

Modern architecture is also criticised for its lack of environmental consideration. These designs often fail to take the environment into consideration and are usually not adapted to the existing terrain, especially in regards to urban planning. This can lead to issues such as flooding, soil erosion and heat island effects. Furthermore, many modern designs fail to take into consideration the existing context and culture, leading to clashes with the surrounding landscape. This lack of integration often creates a sense of alienation and disconnection, leading to animosity towards modern designs.

Aesthetic and Design

The design and aesthetics of modern architecture have also been criticised, with many arguing that these designs are too abstract and non-traditional. The starkness of modern architecture can be seen as harsh and unwelcoming, failing to evoke any emotion or connection. Furthermore, these designs often lack the beauty of traditional designs, which feature symmetry and proportion, as well as the incorporation of the environment. As a result, many are apathetic or even negative towards modern designs.

Material Constraints

Modern architecture is also limited by the materials available. Many of these designs require specialised materials that can be expensive and hard to obtain, leading to a limited selection of materials in these designs. Furthermore, these materials are often of low quality, leading to issues such as compatibility with the environment, as well as aesthetic issues.

Myths and Misconceptions

There are also many myths and misconceptions surrounding modern architecture. Many argue that modern architecture is an ‘all-encompassing’ style of design, when in fact it can vary greatly. Furthermore, there is a myth that modern designs are ‘cold’ and ‘sterile’, when in fact they can be warm and inviting. Lastly, there is the myth that modern architecture is ‘soulless’ and ‘lacks character’, when in fact these designs can be just as characterful as traditional designs.


Many alternatives to modern architecture exist, such as traditional and vernacular designs. Traditional designs take into account the environment, culture and context and often feature materials that are locally sourced and of a high quality. Furthermore, they often make use of time-tested principles and are often built to last.

Public Perception

Public perception of modern architecture is often negative, which can be attributed to the reasons mentioned above. This is often seen in the negative sentiments expressed towards these designs on social media and online forums. Furthermore, many governments move to reject new modern designs due to public outcry.

Architectural Strategies

In light of the issues mentioned above, modern architects have begun to employ various strategies to address these criticisms. These include strategies such as introducing sustainability features and materials, as well as taking design cues from traditional and vernacular designs. Other strategies such as ensuring durability and practicability, along with incorporating the environment, culture and context, all help to ensure that modern designs remain relevant and viable.

Technology and Innovation

Finally, technology and innovation are also being utilised to help improve the designs and aesthetics of modern architecture. This can range from the introduction of computer aided design software to the incorporation of new materials and techniques. Furthermore, the use of robotics and automation can help to streamline the design and construction process.

Design Principles

Modern architecture also often fails to take into consideration certain design principles. These can range from the lack of consideration of the environment and context, to the lack of aesthetic appeal. Furthermore, the designs often lack a focus on practicality and functionality, which is a hallmark of traditional designs.

Evaluation and Critique

It is important to evaluate and critique modern designs in light of the reasons why they are often seen as problematic. This can help to ensure that modern designs remain suited for their purpose, and also to ensure that they take into consider the environment and context. Furthermore, assessment of design aesthetics and functionality can help to ensure that modern designs are in keeping with the trends of the day.

Education and Outreach

Education and outreach can also help alleviate some of the misconceptions and stigma that surround modern architecture. This can involve the promotion and dialogue of modern designs in the public sphere, as well as informing the public on the successes of modern architecture. Finally, it is important to educate architects on the design principles and technologies that can help to ensure the success of modern designs.


In conclusion, modern architecture can be seen as problematic due to its lack of practicality, sustainability, continuity and aesthetics. There are, however, various strategies and technologies that can be employed to help address these issues. Furthermore, public perception and education are key factors in the success of modern architecture, and this should be taken into consideration.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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