It might sound a little boring for some people to read a 1000 word article about HISTORY! But trust me, architectural history is so exhilarating and captivating that you will want to read just one more paragraph till you finish reading the whole book! The prehistoric times still baffle the archaeologists till this time and so many stories are still untold.
Let’s take a small detour from our forward-moving life to pause and reflect on some major events that happened in the field of architecture from the beginning.
- The earliest of times, when the history was not even recorded, humans had started their creativity with the limited amount of exposure they had with the world. Stonehenge in the United Kingdom is one famous example. This ring of standing stones is assumed to be a burial ground in that age.
- The credit for the earliest development in architecture goes to the Egyptian people. Burial of their kings was a big deal and was done first in Mastabas, upgrading to Pyramids as time flew by.
- The inception of columns- Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian by the Greeks had long-lasting influences everywhere around the world evolution of architecture.
- As the population grew and developments in buildings materials occurred, Romans built the first oval amphitheater, the Colosseum which could approximately hold around 80,000 people.
- With the collapse of the Roman Empire began the middle ages and use of bricks for construction. Hagia Sophia, a cathedral turned mosque and a present-day museum (now converted into mosque) was the quintessence monument of Byzantine architecture and also an engineering paragon.
- Domed roofs and elaborate interiors were, at the time the epitome of architecture under Constantine further developing to pendentives under Justinian’s rule, a modified version of domes requiring lesser support.
- Next in line, the Islamic architecture was a coalescence of its predecessors, but had its religious roots. This was the era of ornate interiors, moving towards a new bracket in architecture.
- Islamic architecture in Africa, Spain, and Portugal, more formerly known as Moorish architecture exhibited spectacles like the muqarnas, horseshoe arches, voussoirs, and many more elements depicting eternal beauty of the time. Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, built on the remains of Roman forts was built by the last Muslim dynasty- Emirate of Granada.
- Thick walls, sturdy piers, barrel vaults, and all massive features were characteristics of the Romanesque period which was next. Several castles were built by rulers but not more than churches for sure! Artwork by now was started to be thought of as mathematical and more of regular, symmetrical structures were made.
- Now, the Christian and Islamic rulers both considered their territories as Holy lands. Hence, to secure their holy land began the Famous religious Crusades which were often very brutal and involved the ruthless killing of hundreds of people. Following the Crusades, they developed the Heraldry.
- In contrary to the classical antiquity of the Roman architecture began what we call the Dark Ages. The eras’ called Dark because of the situation in Western Europe was deteriorating in all social and economic aspects. Gothic architecture started to develop as pointed arches, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, gargoyles were designed. You might have guessed the famous Cathedral of this Era, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
- Then what came after the Dark ages, the Gothic period. Any guesses? For those who couldn’t guess, came the very famous Renaissance Era, the era of transformation and rebirth. The renaissance period had Italian roots further moving to France and England in the later stages, marking great social changes as well. It was a step towards modernism. Inspired by the proportions in Greek and Roman architectural elements, this period brought out the emphasis on perspective, symmetry, and proportion.
- The father of Renaissance, Filippo Brunelleschi, showed these elements in a hospital for the first time- Ospedale DegliInnocenti. Another Italian renaissance master, Andrea Palladio designed villas near Venice, using the same principles as for the religious buildings.
- The Baroque period that followed was more about giving more meaning to the built. More complex shapes and extravagant ornamentation were seen everywhere. St. Peter’s Basilica, designed by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini is one famous example of this period.
- It is so hard to summarize architectural history when there is so much to talk about! As people moved forward, the previous era motivated people to think differently. Bored of the symmetry and principles was born the Rococo period also coined as Late Baroque in some places. A lighter scale and asymmetrical elements, the motifs and themes were mostly exotic, related to romance and fantasy with pastel shades of colors and delicate patterns.
- Revival of the classical became the trend everywhere as the Rococo period was short-lived. Inspiration was drawn from Greek and Roman classics to design more refined buildings. Beaux-arts architectural style, taught in France, basically used modern materials like iron and glass.
- Art Nouveau shortly emerged after Beaux-Arts, with the main motive of distinguishing between fine arts and applied arts. Inspired by natural shapes and curves, it showed a sense of dynamism while using modern materials like ceramics, glass, and iron.
- Around this time, WW1 happened leading to a decline of Art Nouveau. And here emerged the Art Deco style. It was mostly inspired by Egyptian architecture, translating cubic forms, ziggurats, trapezoids into buildings.
19.‘Form Follows Function’. We all have heard and learned about this term like a million times. Now had begun the era of modern architecture with huge transformations happening on the industrial and economical front, reflecting on the architectural front as well. Louis Sullivan coined this term, who is better known as the Father of Skyscrapers.
- A new way of thinking was born with so much happening in all parts of the world. Glass and steel brought an evolution in architecture; the Crystal Palace, Eiffel Tower, and so many more examples that we can think of.
It is a tough job to encapsulate architecture in 20 bullets, but somehow these points sum up most of the things that would reinstate your memories. Post-modern architecture or the Contemporary style of architecture calls for another 20 bullets?