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International style (architecture)

The International style, also known as the Modern movement was a major architectural trend in the 1920s and 1930s and is the most minimal form of modernism.

The style was influenced by German and Dutch movements such as Bauhaus, de Stijl and the Deutscher Werkbund. Many of its ideas and ideals were formalized by the Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne. Some of its most important architects (including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) fled the upcoming Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s and moved to the United States, which caused the International Style to spread worldwide.

The term International Style came from the title of a book by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, written in 1932. In that same year, the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City spread the ideals of the style, making it one of the dominant architectural movements of the mid-20th Century.

Architects who worked in the International Style wanted to break with architectural tradition and design simple, unornamented buildings. The most commonly used materials are glass, steel and concrete; floor plans were functional and logical. The style became most manifest in the design of skyscrapers.

Detractors of the International style claim that its stark, uncompromisingly rectangular geometry is dehumanising. Le Corbusier once described buildings as "machines for living", but people are not machines and do not want to live in machines. Even Philip Johnson admitted he was "bored with the box." Since the early 1980s many architects have deliberately sought to move away from strictly geometrical designs.