Architecture has evolved and developed by human beings from the beginning of their existence. Architectural Journalism is a new word but has existed and has come into limelight from a few decades. Architectural writings, documenting, and researching didn’t exist as much in the formal way we see today, but it was wrapped up in culture, different names, and different purposes.
Architectural Journalism is a medium to bridge the gap between the architecture, common people, and architects. Architectural Journalism with the advancement of technology changed its medium from formally starting at the newspaper in the form of Architectural Criticisms and now in digital format. A lot of people have worked in the field and they have helped to develop it as a subject. Today lots of colleges across the globe teach it as a subject, lots of companies do Architectural Journalism in a way to add value to the society and the Architectural Community.
Architectural Criticism existed in newspapers much before the word Architectural Journalism existed, that’s the reason why many people have misconceptions about it. Criticism is a part of Journalism and Architectural Journalism includes research, documentation, photography, experiencing, and a lot more. Several business models are also based on Architectural Journalism like Affiliate Marketing, Magazines, Blogging, etc. Architectural Journalism is a field that has already flourished in many countries, but few developing countries still lack awareness and haven’t yet reached its full potential.
In the Ancient Egyptian times, the architecture, methods of construction, and lifestyle of people were recorded in the form of reliefs and scriptures found on the wall of temples, and also on Serdab, a cellar of the Egyptian architects about their works and other information. Egyptologists and architects of modern time also contribute to Egyptian Architecture to a large extent. Some of the sources are the serdab of Hemiunu, walls of the Temple of Phile, wall enclosure of Sekhemkhet’s unfinished pyramid, etc.
So, the first book on architecture is De architectura by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, is a set of 10 books that explain every aspect of architecture with materials and methods of construction of classical architecture and also about Greek architects. It is an important book as it talks about the various types of Roman Technology like aqueducts and mills, dewatering machines, a force pump, etc.
Byzantine Empire is a continuation of the Roman Empire and architectural development was at its peak. Famous buildings like Hagia Sophia, Basilica of San Vitale, Basilica of San Vitale, etc were built during this period, and through the historians and other writers mentioned architecture, how the buildings are built and the story revolving around those buildings. Some of the writers who have contributed significantly are Isidore of Miletus, Anthemius of Tralles, Doukas, Leo the Mathematician, etc. It is interesting to observe that documentation of architecture existed but it also came up with mathematical and geometric advancement in the books.
Gervase of Canterbury, an English chronicler known for his works like The Chronicle, The GestaRegum, Actus Pontificum Cantuariensis Ecclesia, and Mappa Mundi. He wrote works and documents about William of Sens who is a 12th-century French Architect and worked on Sens Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, etc which belongs to the English Gothic Architecture style.
During the Renaissance, architecture started to take new shapes, and units of measurement were based on human scales. During this period, writers like Giorgio Vasari (1511 -574) and Antonio Manetti (1423 – 1497) wrote several books on architecture which included a biography of Filippo Brunelleschi and his works. Architect Leon Battista Alberti wrote De re aedificatoria (On the Art of Building) which was dependent on Vitruvius’s De architectura and Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio wrote I Quattro Libri dell’ Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture). Leonardo da Vinci notebooks are also a source wherewith many of his inventions he worked on architecture too.
Indian history of architecture is deep-rooted in its culture and religion and is very diverse. Information about architecture and achievements by architects during Pre- Islamic rule in India, is written on temple walls or in the form of poems and stories. Guṇḍan, the architect during the rule of King Vikramaditya (II26), was awarded the title anivāritācāri “indefatigable artist”, who can never commit mistakes, was described on the walls of Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal.
During the Mughal Period, architectural documentations saw a new form. The garden designs and building plans were mostly geometry-based, and the documentation and illustration of the architectural achievement were painted in Miniature Painting style and also depicted on carpets with various colors too. Ministers were also appointed during this period to document the achievements of kings and the beautiful gardens prepared by him. The illustrations also contained the scenes of Radha and Krishna and other epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata which also depicted how people interacted, the urban spaces during the times, and how grand the culture was.
Yingzao Fashi (Treatise on Architectural Methods or State Building Standards) is a treatise about architecture and wooden craftsmanship works by a Chinese author and architect Li Jie, during the mid-Song Dynasty of China. Yongle Encyclopedia was also an important source to know about Chinese Architecture but lost with time and vandalism. With these books, the Ming Dynasty Paintings also depicts buildings of that time and how it was during that time.
Modern journalism in the form of newspapers and magazines started after the discovery of Printing Press and more specifically after the Industrial Revolution. So, the architectural criticism is a form to analyze aesthetics, proportion, functionality, architectural style, choice, and use of building materials, sustainability, etc. In the early 18th century, New York Herald started which is now known as The New York Times where the world’s first full-time architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable (1921-2013) worked. She was curator at the Museum of Modern Arts, New York, and wrote several books including Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life (2008), The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered, a history of the skyscraper (1993), etc. She also received the first Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 1970.
With time architectural criticism changed to defending architecture whose main pioneer is John Betjeman (1906-1984) who was a poet, writer, and broadcaster and he defended Victorian Architecture through his works. Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) was another writer who wrote mostly about architecture at The New York Times and also received the Leonardo da Vinci Medal, 1969.
Some of the important contemporary Architectural Journalists are Paul Goldberger (known for the “Sky Line” column in The New Yorker), Michael Kimmelman (known as “People’s Critic” by New York magazine), Inga Saffron, Allison Arieff, etc. Some of the contemporary magazines which are purely based on Architectural Journalism are Architectural Record, Architectural Review, Concept, Soiled, Landscape, Architect, Architectural Digest, etc.
Architectural Journalism is a known and much-explored field in developed countries, but developing countries have yet to explore. In India, Architectural Journalism has a long way to go. Some pioneers like Apurva Bose Dutta, Gautam Bhatia, etc have laid its founding stone and several companies like A+D, Domus, Indian Architect & Builder Magazine, Home Trends, Inside Outside, How Architect Works, Society Interiors, Architectural Digest, Architecture Update, A+D, WFM, IA&B, etc., publishes magazines.
Architectural Journalism today has also evolved with technology and is also widespread on digital and social media platforms. Some companies like Re-thinking The Future, Arch2O, dezeen Magazine, Arch Daily, etc., are well known for Architectural Journalism on the digital platform. Universities and colleges across the world help students to specialize in this field and a lot of job openings and lots of scopes are there and are developing now.
As Architectural Journalism is more about bridging the gaps, the demand for the architectural journalist is also increasing. Big firms across the globe started to hire an architectural journalist to spread their works and their words. Soon with architectural design, construction, and other eminent fields, architectural journalism will be an important part too.