The Rustic Roots of Modern Design

Have you noticed that modern architectural design often celebrates forms that, in another time and place, could be considered rustic? On a recent drive through rural Idaho and Washington, I encountered numerous examples of agricultural buildings in pastoral settings. Barns, stables, grain elevators, silos and windmills—all of these are built from basic forms stripped down to their essence. Cylinder, cube, cone: ultimate simplicity. Modern reinterpretations of these forms as are seen as chic and avant-garde.  But it turns out minimalism is nothing new. In an agricultural setting, these buildings were originally designed not to impress but to be useful and efficiently express their intended purpose. But, like their contemporary descendants, they offer something beyond the pragmatic. They seem to have…

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