Architecture is a fluid art. Each movement is built on the basis of the one before that, thus inspiring and paving way for newer styles, experimentation, and innovation in architecture. Here are some of the significant movements in architecture categorized according to the timelines.
History reveals clues to the future. It is when we study the evolution that we seek to understand what the future of architecture has to unfold. It is important to understand the movements and consecrated styles of architecture that happened over time. An architectural style is the set of influences that have shaped the form, materiality, and construction methods of a building making it recognizable amongst certain design philosophies or historical terms. Studying the evolution of the styles, their characteristics and features holds significance in the continuum to architecture.
Architecture is a fluid art. Each movement is built on the basis of the one before that, thus inspiring and paving way for newer styles, experimentation, and innovation in architecture. The movements are influenced by one another, sometimes even overlapping each other in the timeline, but they always tend to represent new ideas supported by mathematical theories.
Here are some of the significant movements in architecture categorized according to the timelines:
1. Classical – 7th to 4th century BC
Classical architecture started in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome around the 7th century BC and lasted till the 4th century BC, prominent for the construction of stone temples like the Parthenon. The extravagant piece of architecture, the Parthenon is one of the greatest works demonstrating stupendous and monumental architecture. The symbolic characteristics of classical architecture are the principles used in designing like order, proportion, geometry, symmetry, and perspective; expressed highly in the classical architectural order of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
2. Byzantine – 330 AD to 1453 AD
The end of Roman architecture in Medieval Europe led to the rise of Byzantine architecture showcasing inspiration from the classical style. The style is rich, sensuous, ambitious, and graceful in its being. The Eastern and Western traditions combine to form and grace the architecture of the sacred building in the Byzantine period. There has been prominent use of exotic central domes, golden mosaics, and the use of marble in the interiors. The classical forms were taken to more heights following the new engineering techniques representing the era as a transformational one. The movement involved shifting the capital of the Roman Empire from Constantine to Byzantium (present-day Istanbul), with the construction of the most magnificent edifice of the time, the Hagia Sophia.
3. Romanesque – 1050 AD to 1170 AD
The European countries that were at war at the time preferred to build heavy, resistant walls with minimal openings, giving way to a new style of architecture, with features from both ancient Roman and Byzantine structures. The Romanesque style is known traditionally as the Norman architecture in England. The distinct buildings developed in relation to their context but frequently demonstrate features like a symmetrical plan, thick pillars, and heavy piers, rounded arches, thick walls, and decorative arcades. Some of the prominent examples of Romanesque architecture are Santa Maria del Naranco, Spain, St. Michael’s Church, Hildesheim, etc.
4. Gothic – 1180 AD to 1540 AD
Gothic architecture originated in France in the Late Middle Ages, a style with a characteristic emphasis on verticality with tall buildings, flying buttresses, pointed arches, and ribbed stone vaults. The interiors were lighted up with elaborate stained glass and gargoyles and sculptural members as decorative and aesthetic elements. One of the earliest buildings of the Gothic style is the ambulatory of the abbey of St. Denis, France. Other prominent examples are Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, Chartres Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, etc.
5. Renaissance – 1400 AD to 1600 AD
Renaissance architecture emerged in Europe and prevailed from the 14th century to the 16th century. They developed a new scientific understanding with a wave of admiration for classical architecture. The movement started with a conscious revival of elements of ancient Greek and Roman styles forming more complex structures with an orderly arrangement of columns, emphasis on symmetry, geometry, and proportion, use of semi-circular arches, hemispherical domes, niches, and lintels. The first structure was developed in Florence by Filippo Brunelleschi with Florence Cathedral. Understanding of perspective in architecture led to a more efficient composition of form initiating greater understanding towards functional and aesthetic design.
6. Baroque – 1600 AD to 1755 AD
A more dramatic and decorative version of Renaissance architecture appeared in Italy in the 17th century known as Baroque architecture. The use of ornamental elements with a theatrical approach, and contrasting light and dark characterized Baroque architecture. The style showcased elements like domes, central towers, colonnades, portico, and internal elements like the use of trompe l’oeil paintings combined with sculpture. The Church of Gesu in Rome is one of the early examples of this style of architecture. The play of light, drawing the viewer’s eyes upwards towards heaven, and sometimes leaving architectural features incomplete has widely symbolized this style of architecture.
7. Neoclassical – 1750 AD to 1920 AD
The Neoclassical movement gave birth to Neoclassical architecture in the mid-18th century in France and Italy, drawing influences from the Palladian style of architecture. Also reviving the architecture Greek and Roman style of architecture, Neoclassical architecture showcases characteristics emphasizing the wall and maintaining separate identities of the parts of the buildings. Symmetry, simple geometry, and naturalistic ornamentation define this unique style of architecture. The style focused more on social demands rather than mere decoration and ornamentation. The Bank of England, London, the White House in Washington, and Château de Bagatelle, Paris are some of the prominent examples of Neoclassical architecture.
The revivalism style echoes the visual styles of the previous architectural era, resonating with the traditional methods and materials. It is a purely traditional style replicated to achieve the same aesthetic qualities of buildings. The movements began in the early 19th century in various parts of the world with the Gothic revival in England, Federal architecture in the United States, Russian revival in Russia, and Swiss Chalet style in parts of Switzerland. The revival style of modern-day is categorized in the new Classical architecture. Some of the notable structures of this era are the Grunderzeit building in Leipzig, Germany built by Arwed Robach was demonstrates a typical historicist house, Big Ben in England as an example of Gothic revival, and Schwerin Palace in Germany as an example of renaissance revival.
9. Beaux-Arts – 1830 to 1880
The Beaux-Arts style of architecture was initially an academic architectural style taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. Having influenced the architecture from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century, the Beaux-Arts movement influenced the American architects namely Louis Sullivan, Henry Hobson Richardson, and Daniel Burnham. Modern lines, symmetry, and ornamentation were embedded in modern materials like iron and glass during that time. The massive building showcased articulated facades with elements like balustrades, decorative pillars, arched entryways, and cartouches. The interiors have central domes, vaulted ceilings, grand staircases, and marble flooring. Important examples are Grand Palais in Paris and Grand Central Terminal in New York.
10. Art Nouveau – 1890 to 1910
Dawning between 1890 and 1910, Art Nouveau style of architecture is symptomatic between the old and the new, manifesting its presence in the form of elements inspired from curved lines, and organic shapes. This style is not only represented in architecture, but also in interior design, furniture design, painting, sculpture, graphic arts, typography, and applied arts. The style had a characteristic sense of dynamism seen in the asymmetrical designs and curved lines; inspired from natural forms like plants and flowers; with the use of modern materials mostly iron, glass, and later concrete. The first glimpses of Art Nouveau buildings are seen in houses designed by Victor Horta in Hotel Tassel, Henry van de Velde, and Hector Guimard in Paris Metro. It reached its peak at the 1900 Paris International Exposition. The style soon started spreading to different parts of the world taking up different names.
11. Futurism – 1912
The futuristic architecture is a style born in Italy in the early 20th century, as a part of the Futurism movement started by the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The movements attracted architects, artists, poets, and musicians from all over the world, following anti-historic principles. There is a sense of dynamism, movement, speed characterized by streamlined forms, sweeping lines, industrial elements, and tall skyscrapers. The main components of the futuristic architecture that defined the architecture of the time were movement, technology, and science, and natural materials.
12. Expressionism – 1910 to 1924
The expressionism movement in art and architecture developed in Germany in the early 20th century, drawing parallels with the expressionist performing arts and visuals. Materials like concrete and glass were used to create sculptural forms, asymmetrical, distorted, and fragmented. The shapes showcase emphasis on stylistic, symbolic, emotional, and sometimes, romantic expression over realism. The designs were bent towards abstraction showcasing evoking inner feelings and emotions, making a statement. The expressionist designs rejected traditional architecture to create innovative, abstract, and romantic. The landmark buildings representing expressionist forms are the Einstein Tower by Erich Mendelsohn.
13. Modernism – 1917 to 1965
The 20th century has brought about new technologies and innovative ideas, rejecting the revivalist architecture. The idea of “Form follows function” became the threshold of the movement. A multi-disciplinary approach towards the plethora of aspects of buildings came to life as buildings started to become complex. Minimalism was widely spread rejecting ornamentation in buildings. The materials of choice in the period were glass, steel, and reinforced concrete. The architects that paved the way for new thoughts were Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc.
14. Constructivism – 1920 to 1932
Constructivist architecture is a style where advanced technology and engineering dominates the architecture, reflecting the modern industrial society and urban space. The movement started in the Soviet Union in the 1920s with a Communist purpose. The style fabricated the construction of a few remarkable buildings till 1932 before becoming outdated and also influenced the future architectural movements like Brutalism. There was observed a rejection in decoration and importance to industrial materials.
15. Bauhaus – 1919 to 1933
The Bauhaus was the most influential art school of the 20th century, founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 redefining architecture as a synthesis between art and craft, society, and technology. It extended from the design of furniture, textiles, woodwork to products to plastic arts. Bauhaus had prominent and lasting achievements in the fields of painting and sculpture. The Bauhaus was influenced by movements like the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau. They applied teaching methods that were revolutionary and had theoretical and intellectual approaches towards its subjects. The emphasis was given on rational and functional designs.
16. Art Deco – 1925
Highlighting technological and social progress in the world, the Art Deco movement took its peak before World War I in France. The movement represented the use of luxurious materials and handcrafted elements with modern technology and design. The movement embraced modernism and traditionalism, classifying the phase as glamorous and luxurious. There is a revolutionary use of reinforced concrete and other new materials, put in bold geometric forms, and straight lines, with decorative sculpture in marble, stucco, and ceramics. With the revolutionary use of reinforced concrete, Auguste Perret created one of the first Art Deco buildings. Champs-Elysees by Auguste Perret, Majorelle Building by Henri Sauvage, and other skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building came up in this era.
Contemporary architecture of the 21st century can be seen in several styles from postmodern to high-tech architecture, in several variations from concrete structures to asymmetrical facades and steel cantilevers. Contemporary architecture is highly conceptual, sculptural, innovative, and expressive with the use of advanced technology and materials. Computer-aided designs allowed three-dimensional visualization on screens and allowed for sweeping curves and experimental designs; tube structure allowed lighter, taller, and stronger buildings; and skyscrapers with innovation and functionality. The buildings are designed by contemporary architects like Mario Botta, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, etc.
18. Postmodernism – 1950 to 2007
Postmodernism inspects the modernism movement from a new historical and compositional perspective. Continuing till the present day, postmodernism is represented in examples like Portland Building in Portland, SIS Building, Sony Building in New York City, Thompson Centre, etc. the style was introduced by Denise Scott Brown and also Robert Venturi in their book Learning from Las Vegas. The designs are playful with a hidden meaning, sometimes symbolizing contradiction, humour, asymmetry, complexity, fragmentation. The main criticism received by the post-modernist buildings is that they did not respond to their surroundings. The buildings were diverted towards creativity and complexity.
19. Deconstructivism – 1980
Taking its peak in the 1980s, ideas of deconstructivism spread throughout the world gaining a complex form of architecture. The perplexing and extraordinary buildings of the deconstructivism movement of the postmodern era of architecture are the ones that astound us even today. The sharp angles, fragmented forms, bent roofs, curved surfaces are characterized by the absence of symmetry, harmony, continuity, or even confusion. Buildings started to see complexity in form and redefinition of shapes, and portrayal of newer treatments of the building facades. Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Bernard Tschumi, and Rem Koolhaas are some of the prominent and defining architects marking the deconstructivism architecture.
20. Parametricism – 2008
The contemporary avant-garde architecture style of parametricism has its origin in parametric design developed on algorithms, programs to achieve a parametric equation. The term ‘Parametricism’ has been coined by the partner of Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher. The concept emerged from the techniques of digital animation. The curving, elegant facades of non-rectilinear buildings demonstrate the scope of the modern-day technology with BIM (building information modelling) easing the process. The style is characterized by fluidity and seamlessness, inspired by the systems of nature. A complete set of values pertaining to elements, architecture, and urbanism are made to develop designs.