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Modernism’s Influence on Architect-Client Relationship: Comparative Case Studies of Schroder and Farnsworth Houses

Authors: Omneya Messallam, Sara S. Fouad


The Modernist Movement initially flourished in France, Holland, Germany and the Soviet Union. Many architects and designers were inspired and followed its principles. Two of its most important architects (Gerrit Rietveld and Ludwig Mies van de Rohe) were introduced in this paper. Each did not follow the other’s principles and had their own particular rules; however, they shared the same features of the Modernist International Style, such as Anti-historicism, Abstraction, Technology, Function and Internationalism/ Universality. Key Modernist principles translated into high expectations, which sometimes did not meet the inhabitants’ aspirations of living comfortably; consequently, leading to a conflict and misunderstanding between the designer and their clients’ needs. Therefore, historical case studies (the Schroder and the Farnsworth houses) involving two Modernist pioneer architects have been chosen. This paper is an attempt to explore some of the influential factors affecting buildings design such as: needs, gender, and question concerning commonalities between both designers and their clients. The three aspects and two designers explored here have been chosen because they have been influenced the researchers to understand the impact of those factors on the design process, building’s performance, and the dweller’s satisfaction. This is a descriptive/ analytical research based on two historical comparative case studies that involve several steps such as: key evaluation questions (KEQs), observations, document analysis, etc. The methodology is based on data collation and finding validations. The research aims to state a manifest to regulate the relation between architects and their clients to reach the optimum building performance and functional interior design that suits their clients’ needs, reflects the architects’ character, and the school they belong to. At the end, through the investigation in this paper, the different needs between both the designers and the clients have been seen not only in the building itself but also it could convert the inhabitant’s life in various ways. Moreover, a successful relationship between the architect and their clients could play a significant role in the success of projects. In contrast, not every good design or celebrated building could end up with a successful relationship between the designer and their client or full-fill the inhabitant’s aspirations.

Keywords: Architect’s character, Building’s performance, commonalities, client’s character, gender, modernist movement, needs.

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