History of Architecture

The Ancient World

Architecture first evolved out of the dynamicsHistory of Architecturebetween needs (shelter, security, worship, etc.) and means (available building materials and attendant skills). As human cultures developed and knowledge began to be formalized through oral traditions and practices, architecture became a craft. What is termed Vernacular architecture continues to be produced in many parts of the world. Indeed, vernacular buildings make up most of the built world that people experience every day.
Early human settlements were mostly rural. Due to a surplus in production the economy began to expand resulting in urbanization thus creating urban areas which grew and evolved very rapidly in some cases. In many ancient civilizations, like the Egyptians' and Mesopotamians', architecture and urbanism reflected the constant engagement with the divine and the supernatural, while in other ancient cultures such as Persia architecture and urban planning was used to exemplify the power of the state. The architecture and urbanism of the Classical civilizations such as the Greek and the Roman evolved from civic ideals rather than religious or empirical ones and new building types emerged. Architectural styles developed. The architecture of different parts of Asia developed along different lines to that of Europe, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh architecture each having different characteristics. Buddhist architecture, in particular, showed great regional diversity. In many Asian countries a pantheistic religion led to architectural forms that were designed specifically to enhance the natural landscape.

The Medieval Architect

Islamic architecture began in the 7th century CE, developing from the architectural forms of the ancient Middle East but developing features to suit the religious and social needs of the society. Examples can be found throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, and were to become a significant stylistic influence on European architecture during the Medieval period. In Europe, in both the Classical and Medieval periods, buildings were not attributed to specific individuals and the names of the architects frequently unknown, despite the vast scale of the many religious buildings extant from this period. During the Medieval period guilds were formed by craftsmen to organise their trade and written contracts have survived, particularly in relation to ecclesiastical buildings. The role of architect was usually one with master builder, except in the case where a cleric, such as the Abbot Suger at Saint Denis, Paris, provided the design.

Architects During The Renaissance

With the Renaissance and its emphasis on the individual and humanity rather than religion, and with all its attendant progress and achievements, a new chapter began. Buildings were ascribed to specific architects - Brunelleschi, Alberti, Michelangelo, Palladio - and the cult of the individual had begun. But there was no dividing line between artist, architect and engineer, or any of the related vocations. With the emerging knowledge in scientific fields and the rise of new materials and technology, architecture and engineering began to separate, and the architect began to lose ground on some technical aspects of building design. He therefore concentrated on aesthetics and the humanist aspects. There was also the rise of the "gentleman architect" who usually dealt with wealthy clients and concentrated predominantly on visual qualities derived usually from historical prototypes, typified by the many country houses of Great Britain that were created in the Neo Gothic or Scottish Baronial styles. Formal architectural training begins in the 19th century.Effective architects generally received their training in the offices of other architects, graduating to the role from draughtsmen or clerks. Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution laid open the door for mass production and consumption.

Modernism and Architecture

The dissatisfaction with such a general situation at the turn of the twentieth century gave rise to many new lines of thought that served as precursors to Modern Architecture. The rise of the profession of industrial design is usually placed here. Following this lead, the Bauhaus school, founded in Germany in 1919, consciously rejected history and looked at architecture as a synthesis of art, craft, and technology. When Modern architecture was first practiced, it was an avant-garde movement with moral, philosophical, and aesthetic underpinnings. Immediately after World War I, pioneering modernist architects sought to develop a completely new style appropriate for a new post-war social and economic order, focused on meeting the needs of the middle and working classes. They rejected the architectural practice of the academic refinement of historical styles which served the rapidly declining aristocratic order. Many architects resisted Modernism, finding it devoid of the decorative richness of ornamented styles. As the founders of the International Style lost influence in the late 1970s, Postmodernism developed as a reaction against the austerity of Modernism.

Famous World Architects

Michelangelo was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man...

read more

Giovanni Lorenzo BerniniBernini's first architectural project was the magnificent bronze St. Peter's baldachin (1624-1633), the canopy over the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica, and the facade for the church of Santa Bibiana (1624). In 1629, before the Baldacchino was complete, Urban VIII put him in charge of all the ongoing architectural works at St Peter's...

read more

Architecture today

Years then 1970s, while the Modernism and Postmodernism growing like an architectural style, some architects and non-architects found the root of the problem. They felt that architecture was not a personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individualists; rather it had to consider everyday needs of people and use technology to give a livable environment. The Design Methodology Movement involving people such as Christopher Alexander started searching for more people-oriented designs. Extensive studies on areas such as behavioral, environmental, and social sciences were done and started informing the design process ...

read more