Human life and Architecture have been symbiotic partners in each other’s evolutionary growth through the ages. Both these components have had an action-reaction relationship at every change and turn. Irrespective of the functional aspects of Architecture and its genesis, it has always been designed as spatial storytelling to mediate human knowledge of the world. While it predominantly functions as a shelter against the natural forces as was its original need for conception, architecture has turned out to be more than just that. It has progressed through human accomplishment by recording the development of human history, social transformation, and the joys and sorrows of human life, thus refusing to stand still as if it belongs to a lifeless world.
The beginnings of Architecture can be traced back to Prehistoric times. Humans in the Stone-Age sought shelter and used the comfort of cave dwellings to pander to their needs. But as their habits of livelihood shifted from hunters and gatherers to cultivators, cave dwellings were replaced with hutments made of material sourced in the vicinity. The human skillset broadened concerning art and workmanship with the invention of many tools. Technology although primeval, also gradually started to grow. Soon, civilizations were born. Human habits transformed into an urban nature, and building technology improved as access to newer materials increased. The Indus Valley Civilization saw multi-storied constructions to accommodate the density of the population at the time. These civilizations birthed religions and social classes.
Soon Architecture also became a manifestation of the religions, embracing the socio-cultural traditions followed by the people. Construction was not limited to residences and shelters anymore. The Greeks and their resplendent cities housed large temples, civic buildings, and social spaces. The Romans followed in similar footsteps, although the Roman Civilization brought forth a military characteristic to architecture. Human habits were slowly shifting to combative tendencies. The social hierarchy split residential architecture into two types. A clear rift in styles and luxury could be seen between the architecture of the residences for the Haves and the Have-nots. Palaces and fortresses became a large part of this architectural evolution as did secular buildings all over the world. Science and philosophy were taking roots in human minds and once again, technology advanced. Materials were improved and humans learned to do more than they had ever known to do with these resources.
Architectural elements grew from simplistic forms to intricate details Architecture began to be regarded as a form of art and engineering. The Classical Period gave way to the Byzantine and Gothic styles. More ornamental features were added to the history of construction, as castles and citadels also rose to popularity due to the increasing violence amidst civilizations. Human habits had once again restructured to more art-oriented aesthetics where opulence was given an upper hand over functional provisions. The Renaissance brought forth a refreshing wave of art styles that were expressed via music, theatre, sculptures, paintings, and architecture. The Baroque, Rococo, Art Nouveau, Beaux-Arts, Neoclassicism, and Neo-Gothic were the emergent styles post Renaissance. The concept of skyscrapers in the urban sector had started a new wave of engineering and technology. The machine-age conceived the Art Deco style which germinated from its present influence combined with traditional elements.
This was followed by the two World Wars; Architectural styles adapted once again to changing human habits. The wars amplified with the rise of the industrial age, and architecture radically shifted from its previous flamboyance to simple, easy, quick, and repetitive forms. This was the start of Modernism as we know today. Modernism was a product and response to the immense human need to tend to casualties and damages in the ensuing war. This architectural style only grew from then onwards. Architects of the modern world experimented now, not with ornamentations but with spaces and voids. As the world retreated to lick its wounds from the tragic consequences of war, human comfort was at the forefront of architectural objectives. Functionalism was the primary concern and aesthetics followed these functions.
Architecture until this time had managed to digress from the human experience; instead choosing to focus on human expression as its core design principle. Modernism swung the field into a human perspective once again as architects began to observe and create spaces that embellished and assisted human habits. Sleek, simple lines and linear forms worked in tandem with new engineering inventions, as human habits shifted to more corporate and leisurely activities. Modernism was soon followed by Postmodernism which prevails to this day. Postmodernism challenged many pillars that supported Modernism in a way that brought a lot of freedom into the Architectural realm. As human habits pushed the world to teeter on the cusp of climate change and global warming, Architecture attempted to supply solutions.
Today, architecture is constantly looking to grow in a way that sustains the world. It has taken inspiration from organic forms found in the natural environment, replicating them to provide global comfort to its users and the world as a whole. The evolution of architecture now surrounds human habits more consistently such that, even the creation and absence of a single wall can predict and induce certain human activities. Working hand-in-hand with the ever-advancing technology of present times, Architecture tries to cater to human needs in a larger picture.
The Evolution of Architecture will continue endlessly as long as the human race exists because the greatest of all habits that man possesses is the habit of thought and progress based on the same. As is evident from the history of Architecture, humankind manifested a new lifestyle with each new thought-process, which fostered newer thoughts to bring forth the next step of evolution.