This paper investigates the links between some oriental cosmologies and modern architecture, stemming from major non-Western religions, such as Buddhism, Islam and Judaism as well as from Einstein’s theories. It analyses both the direct impact of these concepts, influencing modernism at a theoretical level, and their indirect impact through historic non-Western architecture, mainly Buddhist and Islamic. While modernist theoreticians and architects frequently emphasised functional and technical priorities of modernism, I argue that modernism was far less rational than it is commonly thought, and that it was substantially influenced by non-Western thought, particularly in its early period.
This paper considers two main innovations of modernism resulting from oriental concepts of void: (1) the flat and undecorated façade, the avoidance of traditional ‘façade-discourse’, (2) the promotion of space as the main objective of architecture. The impact of Buddhist, Islamic, Judaic and the Einstenian cosmologies on modernism are considered