What is Minimalist Architecture?

By Sean Canning

This video is about one of my favorite design styles, which is minimalism. So minimalism is what your parents referred to as cold modernism. But really what it is, is it's kind of like that empty inbox feeling represented in architecture.

Minimalism is a type of modernism, but it goes further than modernism. Modernism is form follows function, and the rejection of unnecessary ornaments. But minimalism is all of those things, but an extreme reduction of ornaments. So you're actually going further to reduce all their detailing to the point where it actually becomes a little less functional.

The best way I can explain this is with a base molding. So if you have a base molding, which sits on the on the transition between your floor and your wall, that base molding does a couple of things.

You can vacuum or mop right up to the wall without getting that wall wet from the mop or damaged from the vacuum cleaner. So the base molding is actually providing some function. So it is a very modern component.

However, most base moldings are going to have some sort of ornamental edge. Modernism would say "let's eliminate that ornament and let's just make it a square piece." If you wanted to go to a minimalism base, you're probably going to eliminate the base entirely, which is going to reduce the function that the base provided.

So all of a sudden your base is now subject to those things from the vacuum cleaner, and you can't mop right up to your wall.

So while this creates more of a challenge in terms of function, what it can do is create more of a streamlined aesthetic in terms of reducing that ornament.

It's one less piece one less distraction to the eye. So the space is going to be more clean and more aesthetically perfect.

But it is kind of a balancing act.

How much function can you reduce to increase the aesthetic before you're just damaging your walls? This concept replicates itself over every detail in the home.

Now there are minimalist bases. So there's a reveal base (which you can Google to see) and the reveal base is one of the most appealing bases you can get. But it does require an extremely high level of craftsmanship and it is not very functional.

You also have a flush face with a reveal, which is kind of the best of both worlds. It's going to provide function and it's going to be an extreme reduction of ornaments. This is because you literally just have one line about four inches or so above your floor. Which provides high aesthetic but still gets function, so it's going to be floating somewhere between minimalism and modernism.

The last thing I want to say about minimalism is it's a common misconception that minimalism is gonna be cheaper. Because it's not cheap.

To get a great looking minimalist home, you have to have a contractor who's very very detail oriented. For example, if your floors are wavy, that minimalist base is not going to look good. The floors have to be perfectly level so that the base can be perfectly level. And then you would have a clean line. And if one of the two is off, that whole detail is going to look off.

So the common misconception is that minimalism is easier to achieve. And that's just not true. It generally takes more time, more craft, and it's going to end up being a higher cost to you.

This is just a basic explanation of minimalism. I encourage you to Google more images about minimalism and get a full understanding of it.

If you are interested in architecture styles, check out our blog post explaining modern architecture.

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