Grand Designs Live London 2020 will now take place on 1-9 May 2021

Top Iconic Architectural Home Styles for your Self Build

Explore our favourite iconic house styles designed by famous architects to inspire your self build project.

Grand Designs explores famous architectural styles and explains how to incorporate their defining features into your project.

De Stijl

an example of de stijl architecture style

Led by Dutch artist Piet Mondrain and architect Gerrit Rietvel, the De Stijl movement is characterised by pared-down, geometric forms and primary colours. The only building made to the movement’s exact specifications is the Rietveld Schröder House; it comprises only squares, rectangles and lines at 90° angles, all in red, yellow, blue, white and black.

Incorporate elements of the De Stijl movement into your project, by introducing accents of primary colour in large, slim-framed windows.


an example of modernist architecture style

Pioneer of the modernist movement, Le Corbusier, compiled a list of architectural principles called the Five Points of Modern Architecture. One of these principles, named ‘Horizontal Windows’, requires the inclusion of an uninterrupted ribbon of large, slim framed widows – a Modernist feature that can help you to bring natural light into your project.

These boxy structures are prone to cracking and warping, however, so choose an architect with previous Modernist experience if you think this construction would work well for your project.


an example of essentialist architectural style

The Essentialist movement is epitomised by the famous Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The style was inspired by the traditional American prairie home, which centred on the dominant communal area of the living room; you can bring this element into your project by arranging rooms with various levels around central social areas.

Art deco

an example of art deco architectural style

The Art Deco movement straddles modern and traditional design, combining rich embellishment with hard-edged symmetry and minimalist forms. It grew in tandem with the re-establishment of Paris as an artistic Mecca during the Twenties, and today the movement still represents glamour and exuberance.

Avoid mere pastiche by integrating bold shapes and rectilinear edges into your architectural features in your project.


an example of decontructivist architectural style

Thanks to cutting-edge computer modelling and engineering, architecture is braver and more abstract than ever. The organic, fluid forms of Zaha Hadid characterise this style – structurally complex, with undulating shapes.

Current icons include buildings commissioned by the commercial sector, such as London’s Serpentine Gallery extension. Work a simpler version into your project with expanses of glass overlaid with angled facades.


an example of brutalist architectural style

The Brutalism movement is characterised by stark, slab-like forms – famous examples include London’s Barbican and the sprawling, raw concrete cultural centres of the South Bank. Give a nod to Brutalism in your project Brutalism by incorporating its impenetrable, blunt silhouette.

For more self build inspiration, visit Grand Designs Live where experts and architects will be on hand to talk you through ideas. 

Images: Bruno Helbling Fotografie; Jim Stephenson; Taiyo Watanabe; Olivier Hess

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