The employment of aesthetic styles that purposefully reflect the style of a former architectural era is known as revivalism in architecture.

An overview of Revivalism Architecture - Sheet1
Wedding Cake House by George W Bourne_©Davis Art Images

The neo-traditional, revivalist, or contemporary architecture is a style of architecture that incorporates conventional construction frameworks with modern construction technology and amenities (parking, elevators, etc.). It differs from new urbanism in that new urbanism is inspired by traditional architecture while modifying it, whereas neo-traditional architecture copies or pastiches it while adding modern features. In this way, it harkens back to the early twentieth-century regionalist movement.

The entirely conventional style, which re-creates a structure using traditional methodologies, can also be distinguished from the Revivalism style. One can check the structure of the building to distinguish neo-traditional from pure traditional constructions; if the structure is made of modern concrete and then covered with cut stones, it is a neo-traditional structure, whereas if the structure has a framework made of conventional techniques, it is a traditional structure.

Revivalist art styles had an impact on many forms of art, but particularly architecture. In part as a romantic response to the mechanical disposition of the industrial revolution, revivalism caught off in the nineteenth century. People harked back to the “good old days” as a result of the mass production of things, such as furniture and art, which was firmly established in the Romantic tendency. During the nineteenth century, no style was immune to “updating.”

What was it about specific architectural styles that drew us in and made us want to recreate them exactly? One motive to go back to a prior time period’s architecture is to relive a happier and more wealthy era. The previous revival styles were based on an aesthetic that repurposed and altered classical architectural features. Colonial and Classical Revival, for example, were influenced by Roman Revival, Federal, and Georgian styles.

An overview of Revivalism Architecture - Sheet2
Neuschwanstein Castle_©Getty Images

The majority of the buildings created during the early stage of the Gothic revival were ecclesiastical. The public was easily influenced that the structures bound for the use of the Anglican Church, which was clearly in part a continued existence from the Church of the Middle Ages, should be in the style that prevailed during the period to which the majority of its buildings rightfully belongs; indeed, it was common to use the term “ecclesiastical” as a euphemism for medieval architecture. Of course, this folly was debunked amongst architects immediately on in the revival, but it survived for a long time and may still do so among the wider populace. Those who researched the art and design of the Middle Ages quickly realized that there was no stylistic distinction between residential, civil, and ecclesiastical architecture of the time, and this realization marks the second stage of the “Gothic Revival.”

An overview of Revivalism Architecture - Sheet3
Gothic Revival Architecture_©Sebastian Kroes

Then came those who strongly identified with the phenomenal era of human innovation, the Middle Ages, particularly those who possessed the gift of greater context, which may be considered a special gift of the nineteenth century, and a kind of recompense for the nastiness that currently envelops our lifestyles. These men saw that medieval art was not only a reactionary product of authorized ecclesiasticism or a representation of a deceased doctrine, but that it was a widespread, dynamic, and revolutionary art – and that liberal art had perished with it. They realized that the fervour and splendour of the art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries originated from the instinct of the period preceding it and that when that fizzled out around the middle of the seventeenth century, all that was left was a caput mortuum of vacuity and pontification, which sought perhaps a period of resolute utilitarianism to shape, as it were, the neglect of the arts before it.

The Gothic revivalists’ exuberance faded when they realized they were part of a community that will not and cannot have a lifestyle because it is an economic necessity for its survival that its population’s ordinary everyday work be robotic drudgery; and because it is the balance of the ordinary everyday work of the population that produces Gothic, that is, living architectural art, and physical monotonous grind cannot be harried.

An overview of Revivalism Architecture - Sheet4
Romanesque Revival Architecture_©Getty Images

Any style could be procured at varying consumer levels throughout most of the nineteenth century, ranging from extraordinarily well-crafted pieces destined for heads of state or international exhibits to poorly manufactured wares for the less affluent. Because there were so many stylistic options, a number of unconnected themes were commonly used to embellish a single object, which was perplexing. As a result, critics debated the quality and integrity of design, driving designers, artists, and theorists to develop well-thought-out, cheap ornamental arts, a mission that continues to impact design today. Nonetheless, nineteenth-century revival styles are a tribute to new customer tastes and consumer behaviour, as well as unparalleled energy of creativity in the business.


  1. (n.d.). History of Architecture – Revivalism | MSB Architects. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2021].
  2. ‌ (2019). William Morris – The Revival of Architecture. [online] Available at:
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  4. ‌Cole, K. (n.d.). Revivalist Architecture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2021].
  5. ‌HiSoUR – Hi So You Are. (2018). Revivalism architecture. [online] Available at:

Faria is an architecture student at IGDTUW, Delhi. She feels passionate towards learning and actively looks for new experiences. She believes that the design language should be universally accessible and understood, hence, she strives to uncover hidden dynamics of design by shifting the language from visual to verbal.

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