The Architectural Styles That Defined a Decade


Architecture is a powerful form of expression that has continued to evolve over centuries. From the ancient structures of the Egyptian houses to the modern skyscrapers of New York, architecture is ever-changing, adapting to the era's influences. 

In this blog post, we will explore the most popular architectural styles per decade, focusing on the stand-out designs that have left a lasting mark on people. We are specifically looking at North-American and European architecture for the time being.

The 1950s - Googie

The Architectural Styles That Defined a Decade

Image Credit: monkeytime | brachiator - I'm stuck with a valuable friend, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Googie was one of the most popular architectural styles to emerge in the 1950s. 

It was characterized by its futuristic, space-age design, with bold angles and sweeping roofs, and was often recognized by its use of neon signage, dynamic shapes and curves, and glass walls. 

Its style was inspired by the modernism of the Atomic Age and was popular in the design of roadside diners, bowling alleys, motels, and movie theaters. 

Googie is an iconic example of mid-century modern design, and its influence has been seen in many areas of design, from architecture to product design.

The 1960s - Ranch

The 1960s saw a surge in the popularity of single-story ranch homes. This style of architecture was characterized by its low, sprawling profile and long, horizontal lines. 

It was often composed of brick, stone, or wood facades and featured large, open floor plans with sliding glass doors leading to the backyard. These single-story homes were also noted for their easy maintenance, economical construction, and affordability. 

With its simple, timeless design, the ranch-style home quickly became the most popular architectural style of the decade. 

The 1970s - Brutalism

The Architectural Styles That Defined a Decade

Geisel Library by William Pereira

The 1970s was an era of experimentation in architecture, with brutalism one of the more toned-down styles. Characterized by its stark, raw concrete structures, Brutalism was a direct response to the modernist architecture that preceded it. 

These imposing structures, with their sharp angles and bold, blocky shapes, contrasted the sleek glass and steel buildings of the preceding decades. 

The style emphasized using concrete, natural stone, and brick, creating a unique, highly textured aesthetic. Many Brutalism buildings are now considered landmarks. 

The 1980s - Postmodernism

While many different architectural styles were popular in the 1980s, one style that stands out is post-modernism. 

Postmodernism is a style that emphasizes individualism and uniqueness, and this is reflected in the way that post-modern buildings are often asymmetrical and have irregular shapes. 

This style was popular among architects who wanted to break away from the traditional design rules, resulting in some truly unique and innovative buildings.

The 1990s - Deconstructivism

The Architectural Styles That Defined a Decade

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Frank Gehry

Deconstructivism, a style that focuses on asymmetrical and abstract shapes, reached its peak in the 1990s. Frank Gehry designed some of his most famous deconstructionist buildings in the 90s and early 00s.

This style became much easier to deisgn during this time period with the advent of BIM technology.

The 2000s - Neo-eclectic

The Neo-eclectic style of architecture is one of the most popular architectural styles of the 2000s. This style combines various historical styles from the past, including Victorian, Craftsman, and French Revival, often combining elements in one space. 

The design is mostly characterized by its intricate details, ornate exteriors, and materials such as brick, wood, and stone. These homes have become increasingly popular over the last decade due to their ability to provide a unique and modern look to any property. 

The 2010s and 2020s

The last few decades have been a period of immense growth in the world of architecture. The emphasis has been more on innovation rather than a particular style, with smart technology and sustainability pushing architects to develop a new way of designing.

For example, residential homes are equipped with cutting-edge technology that lets the owner easily operate household appliances using voice commands and commercial buildings will often have personalized digital directory signs to aid visitors in finding the location they need to go.

The climate crisis is also pushing designers to try new things, working with technology, trying new materials, and embracing concepts such as biomimicry.

Time will tell what this period of architecture will be formally labelled as.

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