The relationship of architectural entities to urban space and landscape has been a hot topic of discussion for many years. The urban landscape of any city is governed by subjective design interpretations, articulation of myths and representations, and innovations rather than just the material attunement of the buildings or amalgamating a result that caters to a private commission or a public program, determined by political and economic considerations. 

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Streets of Europe_ ©Yehonatan Cohen https://iso.500px.com/33-photos-inspired-by-european-culture-that-will-make-you-want-to-pack-your-bags/

Architecture’s cycle of transformation cannot be considered permeable; The transformation is embedded in history through long-term events, crises, and shifts. It is approached through materials and documented sources, supporting, and apprised with buildings as primary documents. The study of these buildings includes a constant change of focus and perspective. The continuous interpretation of architecture at an urban scale indicates a major role of social or technical policies, while the close-up of a building speaks about the inhabitant’s ideas and engagement.

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Acropolis, Athens., Greece. Photograph by Constantinos Kolias_©https://unsplash.com/photos/yqBvJJ8jGBQ
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Stoa of Attalos 159 B.C. – By King Attalos II. Photograph by DerHexer_©https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stoa_of_Attalos_at_the_Ancient_Agora_of_Athens_3.jpg
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Hagia Irene or Aya İrini Kilisesi in Istanbul, Turkey.Photograph by Salvator Barki_© https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-byzantine-architecture-4122211
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Romanesque Cloister at Monastery Tarragona, Catalonia. Photograph by SofiLayla Thal_©https://pixabay.com/photos/romanesque-cloister-monastery-3136455/?download
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Notre Dame de Paris. Photograph by Rita Crane_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/44548980@N00/245400380

The Stylistic Progression of European Architecture

Europe has witnessed an immense wave of designs that dismissed the stereotypical construction techniques while retaining the popular predilections and architectural heritage. It all began in the Classical Era (850 BCE to CE 476) that grew from ideas and techniques that were used for the design and construction of the magnificent structures of ancient Greece and Rome. 

The Byzantine period (527 to 565 CE) that started soon after was a transformation that amalgamated the Eastern and the Western traditions in sacred buildings. Domes were built and buildings were raised to new heights. 

Romanesque architecture (800 to 1200 CE) emerged with rounded arches, cross floor plans, higher altars and towers and domed apses as Rome spread across Europe. Cathedrals and other large buildings further soared to new heights in the early 12th century with the beginning of gothic architecture in France. Numerous innovations such as flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, stained glass, and gargoyles came to life. 

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Villa Capra La Rotonda_© Mario Ferrara https://archeyes.com/villa-capra-la-rotonda-andrea-palladio/
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Baroque Architecture. Photograph by Gary Yeowell_©https://www.thespruce.com/baroque-architecture-4797911
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Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C_©SeanPavonePhoto https://www.thespruce.com/neoclassical-architecture-4802081

An awakening then hit Italy, France, and England that brought back the Classical ideas during the Renaissance era (1400 to 1600 CE). Classical rules were also used for highly symmetrical private villas. Elaborate new lavish buildings with complex geometric shapes, ornaments, paintings, and contrasts came up in the early 1600s, and was known as the Baroque Style

Within a century, architects turned away from the Baroque style to dismiss the opulence of the ruling class and favored Neoclassical approaches. This approach reflected the intellectual awareness of the middle and the upper classes. Historians often call this the era of Enlightenment.

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Casa Batllo, Barcelona. _©catawiki.com https://www.catawiki.com/en/stories/4329-10-beautiful-art-nouveau-buildings-to-check-out-on-your-holiday-trip

At the end of the century, Art Nouveau became the agenda of research. Baroque, Classicism, and other classic styles of the 18th-19th centuries were pushed into the past. The art nouveau began to be conceptualized as an expression of the laws of development of the Modern Age. The implementation of the idea of modernism is actively being carried out in the architectural age of new technologies. 

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Villa Savoye. Photograph by Lindopereda_©https://www.localguidesconnect.com/t5/General-Discussion/ARCHITECTURE-VILLA-SAVOYE-TO-THE-OUTSKIRTS-OF-PARIS/td-p/2389521

Evolutionary Process of the 20th Century

Cubism and Constructivism were marked as the landmark movements of architecture in the 20th century. Various writers and architects discussed and wrote about the origins and the development of modernism. The character of an artistic structure becomes different with the architect’s thinking and relationship with the society’s values and moral needs. How architecture blends in with society is requisite for the creation of a new architectural synthesis. The formation of Modern architecture largely relies on this. 

The driver of European modernism, Le Corbusier successfully met the requirements of the new industrial society and the technical development that began with the second age of machines. His style, composed of simple geometric volumes, was conspicuous by its spatial compositional expansion. He created a certain absolute idea that seemed ideal. It was full of symbolism, which grew on to develop a single international style.

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Gosprom, Ukraine_©James Dunnet https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/constructivist-glory-in-the-ukraine

Successful Practices in the 21st Century

Public architecture naturally adapted to the concept of geometrical architecture that was prevalent in the late ‘60s- ‘80s of the 20th century which also reflected the traits of rationalism of the ‘20s- ‘30s. Cube and cuboid houses with their extravagant top design and boldly piercing space normalized the idea of architecture being bizarre. Architects have been easily handling various forms that freely intrude space. 

Non-rectilinear forms, parables, arches, being old and yet a new construction, which found integral use in contemporary structures, are ideal in every respect. Bauhaus school, Deconstructivism, Formalism, Brutalism, Structuralism, and Art Moderne are some of the modern-day trends that continue to evolve.

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The Church of St. NIcholas, Heremence by Fordrer. Photograph by David Willen_©https://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/walter-maria-forderer-1960s-churches

The Impact of Historical Sociology

The key components of form and its contextual components are to a large extent featured by any architectural style. All the European architecture styles followed through the ages provide insight into the society, culture, interests, and exigencies. In the early twentieth century, the image of the world experienced a profound change in space through a sociological attitude. Modern architects constantly tried to reach a holistic view, scraping through the rhythm of fast-flowing time. There was a continuous search for new forms of expression in architecture. 

The design laws were expressed by art nouveau which began the conceptualization of the laws of development of the Modern Age. The entry of industrialization and modern architecture in the 1970s strongly highlighted human sciences, mainly because the style had a huge impact on society. As the constructions grew more uniform, the interest in the perception of architecture in Europe gained more significance.

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Basilica di Sant’Andrea_©Sebi1 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MantovaBasilicaSantAndrea_cutnpaste_over_intrusions.jpg

Cultural Dynamics

The relationship with society is requisite for the creation of a new architectural synthesis. Architecture changes to respond to the dynamic aspect of cultural systems. The architectural styles followed in Europe through the years are testimonies of the approach by architects to ensure that a culture’s basic needs are fulfilled. The societal hierarchy, roles of women, privacy, and the interaction of society. Architectural forms were deciphered by how the interaction within a society took place. These methods can be applied in the designs of the present age to create more informed and appropriate responses to cultural and social issues. 

The styles of various periods have also been borrowed and reinterpreted from other cultures through secondary cultural systems and cultural diffusion. Some of the cultural influences can be easily noticed in the case of St Andrea Mantua, Italy, and Church of the Sacred Heart, Vino hardy. In both cases, values were assigned to different forms to achieve hierarchy. 

To amalgamate the historical past and the concrete construction of today, the architects carefully represented classic culture using Roman brick techniques. The rustic exteriors and the bell towers symbolize solidity and were considered important, keeping in mind the turbulent political scene post-war. Plans, structures, materials, and details provide an insight into the virtual blueprint of the culture. It reveals inherent values and teaches us about various workable design solutions.

The Effect of Demographics and Modernization

Although the monumental scales, arduous forms, and vehement colors often create comfortable living environments, spaces adequate for human existence, they lack the basic requirements of modern architecture. The new social reality requires architectural spaces to have a congenial atmosphere, where it is comfortable to move and inviting to the eye. With the technocratic ideology and interwar period, modernism arose in Europe. The movement was stabilized and rationalized by intervening in the new cultural bourgeoisie into capitalism. 

While many stood against it and claimed that it tainted culture by incorporating class interests, theorists claimed that the standards were progressive, socially influenced, and promised a more rational world. It met the requirements of a consumer-responsive architecture. Modern architects in Europe also received commissions from the state to practice autonomously. They expressed the beauty and the repulsiveness of their project candidly, without facing reconciliation from society. 

Mass production in factories grew due to the standardized similarity in the designs that symbolized the economy of effort. However, soon the rigidly authoritarian mass-production process departed from the initial intentions and people found it difficult to find comfort in the instrumental rationality of their surroundings. Though they failed to keep up with their intentions by failing to provide an alleviating revolution, they kept their revolutionary hopes alive through their obstinate estranged aesthetic. 

References

Jenkins, O. (1996). Unusual Recipes and Cantonese Cuisine. Culinary Research, Volume 5 (8), pp. 47-59.

Rossi, M. (2016). Architectural Perspective Between an Image and Building. Nexus Network Journal18(3), pp.577-583.

Stevens, G. (1996). The Historical Demography of Architects. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 55(4), 435–453.

Abdel-Azim, G.G. and Osman, K.A.A., 2018. The importance of cultural dimensions in the design process of the vernacular societies. Ain Shams Engineering Journal9(4), pp.2755-2765.

Memmott, P. and Davidson, J., 2008. Exploring a cross-cultural theory of architecture. Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, pp.51-68.

Gartman, D. (2000). Why modern architecture emerged in Europe, not America: the new class and the aesthetics of technocracy. Theory, culture & society17(5), 75-96.

Collin Abdallah. “”Past, Present, Future”: Leading Dutch and Italian Designers on Being an Architect Yesterday, Today, and Beyond” 13 Jun 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Sep 2021. <https://www.archdaily.com/896279/past-present-future-leading-dutch-and-italian-designers-on-being-an-architect-yesterday-today-and-beyond> ISSN 0719-8884

Cohen, J.L., 2015. Architecture, Modernity and Modernization. La lettre du Collège de France, (9), p.15.

 

Author

An undergrad architecture student and a conservationist who is super enthusiastic and tries to learn from every opportunity that crosses her path. She comprehends her areas of interest through research and journalism. She aspires to tap into human behaviorism and bridge the gap between Architecture and community psychology.

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