Building and buying

Modern houses: contemporary living

Thomas Bott

What is considered modern is constantly changing – the way architecture has developed is a spectacular illustration of this. Swiss style, a specific expression of the “Heimatstil”, was in fashion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example. Today, however, styles such as minimalism and aspects of the classic Bauhaus style are considered modern again. These influences can be seen clearly in the design of residential buildings. But there are many more factors that set modern houses apart.

A modern residential house with large window fronts against a mountain backdrop.
© Getty Images

In this article

A prefabricated or architectural house: spoiled for choice

There are various different possibilities when it comes to the design of a house. Two of them could scarcely be more different: the prefabricated house and the architectural house.

The prefabricated house

A prefabricated house has already been designed and even partially built. The floor plan and many furnishing details can also be individually adapted in a prefabricated house. Finished walls or even entire rooms arrive directly on the building site. This significantly shortens the construction time and enables the building owners to move in more quickly. There is a wide range of possible styles, including very modern designs.

A prefabricated house with wooden paneling and large windows.

Prefabricated houses can be completed in a short time from prefabricated parts based on a modular principle. Though they can still be challenging from an architectural point of view.

The architectural house

An architectural house can be designed according to your wishes. Alternatively, you can also give the architect a free hand. This results in some very modern architecture with individual floor plans that stand out from the crowd. The downside is that the process between planning a design and starting construction work is much longer. Usually the first plans aren’t ready for several months, whereas in the case of a prefabricated house this ideally only takes a few days.

An architectural house with two floors, an attic and large windows looking out into nature.

Large windows looking straight out into nature: in an architectural house, every detail can be planned just the way you want it.

Construction method: progressive or classic – as long as it’s modern

No matter whether you choose a prefabricated house or an architectural house made to measure: “modern” can look very different. Houses in the Bauhaus style with flat roofs and very clear lines are back in fashion. But a city villa with a gable roof and stone columns is also in keeping with the spirit of the times. It can be modern without contrasting too much with the other buildings in an old town, for example. Semi-detached houses are a good way to create a stylish home for two families, especially in cramped cities.

The modern Bauhaus style combines contemporary design with perfect use of space and can therefore be realized even on small plots of land. But bungalows are far from out of fashion. However, they require more floor space due to the distribution of the living area over just one story. A large plot of land is a must here, to leave enough space for a garden.

A house with a modern pitched roof and gray facade in front of a mountain panorama.

Modern does not always have to mean striking: a simple design blends in with the surroundings, but remains state of the art.

Modern houses: an ecological design is vital

In today’s world, modern also means efficient, i.e. the property should at least meet the current energy standards. As a result, good insulation in the form of wood is back in fashion. As a natural building material, it is self-replenishing and has a balanced environmental impact. Partial wooden paneling also gives concrete buildings a more natural touch. A photovoltaic system on the roof of a house can generate at least some of the energy required.

Passive houses are particularly ecological; in Switzerland, the Minergie-P standard is roughly equivalent to the passive house standard in Germany. A very well-insulated, airtight building envelope is vital in Minergie-P buildings. An air-to-air heat pump supplies every room with fresh or preheated air and thus ensures a constant temperature. Since traditional heating is usually no longer necessary, a passive house works ecologically and cost-efficiently.

A small house with only one floor and a large photovoltaic system on the roof.

You can make your house particularly ecological with good natural insulation as well as a modern method for generating electricity and heat.

Habitation: clarity inside and out

Modern houses not only differ from old buildings on the outside, there are also differences in the design of the interiors. The living area is usually rectangular or square. Niches or corners are rarely found. This makes the floor plan clear and simple. High ceilings are not uncommon, but don’t generally continue throughout the entire house. Galleries are very popular in modern villas, for instance, as they make the room appear larger and more open.

Large windows that often extend right down to the floor provide plenty of light. Light colors add to the friendly atmosphere. Instead of comprising many small rooms, modern houses frequently have fewer, but larger rooms. In modern house planning, the kitchen is not usually a separate room, but is integrated into the dining or living room as a combined lounge/kitchen area. This creates a spacious open area that is used for more than just cooking.

A modern house with a living room that opens out over two floors.

High ceilings and large windows give a house a lot of space and light.

The networked house: modern technology in a smart home

Many building owners also want state-of-the-art technology in their modern house. In the smart home, for example, radiators or underfloor heating can be controlled very conveniently via smartphone or voice assistant.

Thanks to smart lamps, changes in brightness are possible without having to install a dimmer switch. Individual color shades are also not a problem in most cases. Some kitchen appliances, televisions and many other devices already have the technology built in. However, stable Wi-Fi is crucial.

A woman visualizes the contents of the refrigerator without having to open it by means of a tablet mounted on the wall.

Smart technology can be a great help in everyday life. Although the purchase costs are often high, many homeowners today set great store by having a smart home.

Conclusion: a dream house to suit the times.

Prefabricated houses are somewhat cheaper and require less planning than architectural houses. But the latter offer much more individuality. Both types of house can be modern – especially if you, as the builder, also place the emphasis on contemporary design in the interior decor.

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