5 Main Features of Contemporary Architecture and Why We Love It

Contemporary architecture has a storied history in America, and throughout Southern California in particular.

Arising in earnest after World War II, contemporary architecture emerged from a rejection of the typical architectural trends that dominated the 19th century, like ornamental Victorian homes, as well as the desire for artistic experimentation with the new building materials that became available. This creative push ushered in a completely new way of thinking about space and functionality, the effects of which still resonate today.

As such, it’s no surprise that the contemporary style is still a popular choice for homebuilders, prominent throughout Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and many other California counties. And in a state often dominated by traditional and tract homes, one thing is certain: custom contemporary homes always stand out from the crowd.

But what does contemporary mean, exactly? Here are five main features of contemporary architecture—and a few reasons why we love it!



Contemporary architecture is, by nature, unexpected and inventive. This inclination to abandon the norm drives this style more than any specific visual trait, and one of the main ways contemporary architecture bucks tradition is by incorporating unique materials into the construction.

Perhaps most notably, contemporary homes often highlight large plate glass walls or windows. They also tend to use a variety of other natural or organic materials, such as metal, concrete, wood, and stone. Nowadays, many of these materials are eco-friendly, too, which is a huge bonus!

Contemporary Architecture Open Floor Plan


Thanks to the preference for large glass windows and skylights, contemporary homes often boast an abundance of natural light. Similarly, they utilize an open floor plan, with minimal—or the total elimination of—many interior walls. Combine these two elements and you get a bright, comfortable, completely relaxing home.

Further, open floor plans are great for homeowners who love entertaining and want the kitchen to flow freely into the living and/or family room. They also add a sense of unity between rooms. 


Flat, often overhanging roofs are another key element in contemporary architecture. This may seem like a visual choice (and we’re not going to lie: we love the look!), but it also serves a specific function.

Overhanging roofs provide additional shade while simultaneously protecting your home from the elements. On top of that, these roofs actually extend the architecture into the outdoors, thus creating a more cohesive design—as well as more enjoyable outdoor space.



Californian contemporary homes often showcase a sleek, clean aesthetic free from fussy exterior details. Unique materials can be used, as discussed above, but there is little else in the way of decorative trim or molding. Simplicity becomes the rule, which helps develop a tranquil and luxurious atmosphere.

But don’t be fooled—it’s not all simple lines. Curved facades are common, too, and help break up any geometric or visual monotony.


Though we’ve already touched upon this point, it’s worth reiterating: contemporary architecture frequently hinges on the desire to create harmony between structure and nature.

The prominent use of large glass walls allows boundaries between indoors and outdoors to blur, while overhanging roofs push the architecture into the outdoor realm. Additionally, contemporary homes are often designed with landscaping already in mind. By considering decks and balconies from the get-go, contemporary homes further emphasize the enjoyment of stunning natural surroundings.

In locations like California and Hawaii, contemporary architecture seems like a natural choice for a brand new home.

So are you ready to get started?

Whether you want to go full Frank Lloyd Wright, or simply mesh contemporary elements with another architectural style, we’re here to guide you through the process of building a custom home.

From design to construction and everything in between, contact us today to find out everything Smith Brothers can do for you.

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