About the end of the nineteenth century architects throughout Europe became interested in the vernacular buildings of their own countries and began to investigate the possibility of creating a new type of architecture which would be free of the burden of meaning, or of the associations, that were attached to the historical styles - Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Their immediate predecessors in Victorian England, in the other countries of Europe and in America, had become obsessed with ornament and lavish enrichment. Now, at the beginning of the twentieth century, architects sought to create a new visual language that would be clear and uncluttered and more fitting for a new world of ocean liners, telephones and even air travel.

Stages in this process of emancipation were the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, Art Noveau in France and the work of the architects of the Secession in Vienna. From America, and particularly from Chicago came the revolutionary creation of the multi-storied blocks of Louis Sullivan, the slab-like geometry of Frank Lloyd Wright and the drama of the skyscrapers of New York. Essentially the Modern Movement was pioneered in Germany and France by Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. By the mid 1920s geometrical white buildings with flat roofs, horizontal metal windows and no identifiable historical features had been introduced to Ireland though here they remained the architecture of only the most progressive offices.

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