Contemporary architecture originates in the spiritual setting of modernism. Modernism is a term used to describe a period in the development of the visual arts that spans the late 19th century and early 20th century. It is characterized by striving for the new and attachment to the ideas of the new. Modernism abandons claims to be an “objective reflection of reality” and concentrates on subjectivity. This is a current that opposes realism, has features of decadence and mysticism. Modernism is associated with such artistic trends of the 20th century as Dadaism, abstractionism, existentialism, expressionism, surrealism, a new novel, theater of the absurd, cubism, futurism, pop art, fauvism, aleatorics (in music) and others. The concept of “modern” since its inception is antagonistic to the concept of “old”. This is an opposition to tradition. The spiritual environment of the modern age is created under the influence of two key events in science: psychoanalysis and the theory of relativity. Psychoanalysis connects the subconscious phenomena in man through an associative process and presents a new concept of personality, explaining his behavior to a level of mythology. The theory of relativity explains the world as the unity of space and time. Both theories have a direct impact on the emergence and development of modernism in art. But modernism also emerged under the pressure of modern post-Marxist capitalism. Transport and communications are developing, at the end of the 19th century organizations were established in various fields, which began to change the scale of the world. Thus, the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 became a world event, despite being a local conflict centered in a small area of Manchuria. Navy became a symbol of the power of nations, and warships demonstrated the concentrated application of many modern technologies in one powerful product. Photography, aviation and radio appeared. The industry provides unprecedented products. The Eiffel Tower, which Parisian intellectuals hated as an extremely ugly structure (especially Maupassant and Dumas, who called it the “skinny pyramid of iron pipes”), is a typical product of the era – designed as a temporary commercial venture with a twenty-year lifespan by Gustave Eiffel who is a railway engineer and used his old project for a tower, realized as a pure steel structure and built with steel profiles by Krupp in two years, it is without being an architectural claim, is actually a revolution in the construction of buildings in a city like Paris. Eiffel is a participant in the construction of the Panama Canal and the Statue of Liberty. Unrecognized at the time, it became a symbol of architecture in the industrial age.
Architects in this early modern era realized the importance of engineering facilities for the new style, and this is evident from the involvement of an architect in the design of a bridge. The Biscay Conveyor Bridge connects the banks of the Ibaisabal, an estuary on the Nervion River northwest of Bilbao. It was designed by the Basque architect Alberto de Palacio and its construction was completed in 1893. The 45 m high bridge with a 160 m opening combined the traditions of building metal structures of the 19th century with the new technology for light construction of twisted steel ropes. This is the world’s first bridge designed to move people and vehicles in a high-suspension gondola, a model for many similar bridges in Europe, Africa and America.