Architectural styles decoded (in chronological order).
The field of architecture has seen a series of developments, improvements and innovations in house design, materials and building plans. You may have stood before an architectural masterpiece one time and wondered the origin or ideology behind it. It may be difficult to comprehend and appreciate the efforts of the architect who designed such a place because it looked simple. But, if you understand the history and the interconnected phenomenon surrounding our building styles today, you will appreciate architects more.
Architectural styles don’t just emerge exclusively. Most of the existing styles stemmed from reactions and discoveries on previous ones. Once you go back to history and analyze what existed previously, you may understand the house designs we have now. Also, you may even make some accurate predictions about the styles to expect in our buildings in the future.
It?s so exciting that what began over 40,000 years ago as a simple structure for shelter and security has turned out to be a craft, discipline, field and industry. In those days, humans constructed shelters from whatsoever material they could find. There were no defined building materials, yet people created structures to hide from danger and elements. In those years, things like house floor plans didn’t exist, but people still built solid shelters for themselves.
Let?s go back to the 7th century and count down from there. We’re going to decode some architectural styles that have stood the test of time.
Architectural Styles Decoded
This was a 4th and 7th-century architectural style that emanated from Ancient Greece. These building styles were used in constructing religious temples. The material available for building then was stone, and the architects in that era didn?t have much choice than to build the temples in stone. Another interesting aspect is that the architectural designs followed the principles of symmetry, geometry, order and perspective.
Such iconic classical architecture is represented by the famous “Parthenon”, a temple built during the 5th century BC in Greece. This building has stood the test of time after lasting for many centuries. Instead of facing extinction, it has garnered more popularity because people continually marvel at the captivating display of Greek art in the temple.
After the classic architecture in the 7th century BC, this Pre-Romanesque?Style emerged. It became popular during the 8th century and continued until the 11th century.? Have you ever seen the pictures of some Frankish palaces or monasteries? Those are the Pre-Romanesque styles that existed between after Classic and before Romanesque. The architects in that era combined Germanic, classical Mediterranean and Christian architecture to achieve spectacular designs. During that period, Christianity dominated Europe, and this dominance was evident in the styles of their buildings as well.
Three arts emerged in the Pre-Romanesque era-the Carolingian art, Ottonian art and Anglo-Saxon art. These groups were characterized by metalwork, flowing painting colors, illuminated manuscripts and sculptures with frescoes and adornment. The inclusion of these arts helped to define the architectural style in that century.
The Pre-Romanesque architectural styles gave birth to the 10th &12th-century Romanesque styles. The building styles then combined a little bit of both Byzantine and Roman architectural forms. The architects took some of their features, materials and form to create new but attractive buildings. Few of the pointers to a typical Romanesque style are round arches, vast towers, thick walls and vaults.
The reason behind these architectural designs was the need for protection. European countries were warring with other countries then. There was more interest in preventing enemy invasion, so, they built massive walls that’ll resist any attack. Also, the openings in these buildings could only be found in semicircular arches. Architects had to design it that way because the focus was on keeping the citizens inside and barricading the enemies outside.
One of such buildings is the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral which was built in Spain during the Crusades.
Architects didn?t stop their creativity but instead, continued to be innovative in Europe. Well, that?s where the Gothic style emerged in the 11th & 12th centuries. But it was called ?French work? or ?Opus Francigenum?. The architects named it Gothic during the ?Enlightenment?.
The gothic architectural style was characterized by stone structures that were too thin to imagine. There were also the pointed arches which were found in many of the past styles. The building also featured ribbed stone vaults, glasses and flying buttresses to support them.
Most of the Gothic styles came out as cathedrals and churches. Some of the existing ones we have now-Reims cathedral and Notre Dame Cathedral have become a UNESCO heritage site.
This is the reigning architectural style during the 14th & 15th century. During this era, architects have shifted from classical antiquities to scientific understanding. Clean lines, proportions and symmetry characterized buildings in this era. The house building plans included lintels, columns, arches, domes and pilasters.
One exciting thing in architectural development was that individuals were noted and applauded for their work. For instance, the Renaissance architecture was attributed to Filipo Brunelleschi. He first developed it in Florence but many others like Michelango, Inigo Jones, Alberti and Palladio adopted the Renaissance style in their works too.
Here is another architectural style worth mentioning as it introduced theatrics in house plans.
Baroque started during the ending part of the 16th century in Italy. These buildings were improvements to what existed during the Renaissance architectural era. They had dramatic colors, lightings, designs and trompe l?oeil on the building features. Also, you can easily see the complexity of the building plans characterized by many twists and curves. They also used marbles, plaster, stucco and faux finishing. But one prominent thing was the use of bright colors even on the ceilings.
The buildings existing included portico, central towers and domes such as the St. Peter?s Square in Vatican City. There were others such as the St. Paul?s Cathedral in London, Palace of Versailles, Les Invalides in Paris, etc.
The birth of this architectural style occurred during the 18th century. It came as an improvement of the earlier Baroque architecture. It was like a step back from all the symmetry and grandeur surrounding the previous styles. Rococo styles had this fluid and elaborate style that captivates the admirers. Architects included pastel shades and asymmetric designs to create awe-striking house plans.
The rise of Rococo styles was to provide an “out” from the Baroque architecture, which was too strict to understand. As soon as France adopted it, many countries such as Austria and Germany followed suit. Even though Rococo had many similarities with its predecessor, there were slight differences. While Baroque focused on symmetry, Rococo was more focused on asymmetry. Also, Rococo was lighter and used curves a lot, and most of the colors used in this style were ivory white, light pastel, and gold.
This is another 18th-century architectural child inspired by the great Andrea Palladio. This architect was renowned for his designs written down in four architectural books. Although Palladio came from Venice, one of his followers Inigo Jones brought his styles home to England after a trip to Italy in 1614.
Some of Inigo?s work following after the Palladian style was the Banqueting House built in 1619 at Whitehall, the Queen?s Chapel built in 1623 at St. James Palace and the Queen?s house built in 1635 at Greenwich.
By this time, architects have adopted mathematical proportions and symmetry-based designs. They have shifted from classical and ornament fa?ade, which were the order of the day in the former styles. Some of the features that characterized the Palladian architectural style includes Corinthian columns, scallop shells, masked faces, pediments, free-standing stones, etc.
We can say that the 18th century experienced an influx of architectural designs of different forms and styles. Another name given to this mid-18th-century style was neoclassicism. Its emergence can be traced back to Rococo and Palladian. It changed a lot of things and not reusing parts like what was done on previous styles.
Neoclassicism was characterized by geometric forms, dramatic columns, and blank walls. The architects did an excellent job of playing down the flamboyance of the Rococo style. They showed the walls in their simple forms and emphasized their planar quality.
When neoclassical architectural style surfaced in the 1750s, many countries in Europe and the United States adopted it. For instance, St. Petersburg had a great number of structures built in this style. Also, neoclassicism became the order of the day in British architecture under Catherine 11.
Some of the examples of buildings that followed this style are the popular “White House” where the number one citizen resides in Washington, D.C. Also, the famous Bank of England operating in London was built with the neoclassical style.
Beaux-Arts Architectural Styles
The idea behind this unique style originated in the School of Fine Arts in Paris. Yes! It started there, but it didn’t take long before the architects in the United States of America queued into it. How? In the late nineteenth century, an American architect, Richard Morris Hunt attended the school and learned of it. When he completed his craft, he used the style in designing “The Breakers.”
The beaux-arts style became very popular because it was used to build places like resort communities and urban centers. For instance, the World’s Columbian Exposition built in Chicago followed this style. In those days, Beaux-Arts was a symbolic representation of civic and corporate pride. Architects used it in designing building such as the museum, train station, libraries, courthouses, post offices, government offices, elite mansions and schools.
This unique style was characterized by columns, balustrades, quoins, pediments, porches, balconies, ornamental windows, and terraces. The buildings also had lavish interiors designed with coffered ceilings, elaborate chandeliers, marble fireplaces and pilasters, etc.
One building that showcases the Beaux-Arts style to perfection is the 1906 State Capitol Building in Harrisburg. No one can doubt or fail to appreciate the extravagant architectural style displayed in the building.
Art Nouveau Architecure
Here is where a clash erupted between the previous styles and their newer counterparts. Funny right? Well, Art Nouveau picked some elements from Rococo but didn?t care about the nineteenth-century styles. But let’s point out that this style emerged when the nineteenth century was almost over. It picked on geometric and organic forms, inculcated natural designs and used rigid and angular contours.
Many of the cities in Europe such as Vienna, Paris, and Budapest adopted this architectural style in most of their buildings. It had ornamental designs of several shapes including flowers, plants, and animals. The architects who showcased this style include Louis Henry Sullivan from America, Antonio Gaudi from Spain, and Hector Guimard from France and Victor Horta from Belgian.
This style is a 20th-century product of the modernist art school. It was aimed at uniting manufacturing and creativity as the former seemed to be increasingly soulless as time progressed.
Bauhaus architectural style is characterized by a steel framework, glass curtain wall, reinforced concrete brick, and asphalt tiled roof. One of such buildings that were built with this style is the Gropius complex.
Art Deco Architecture
This modernist style joined other styles before the First World War.? It was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s. It was a great mix of modern design, luxurious materials, and handcrafted elements. As at that time, the field of architecture has started to embrace the importance of technological advancement, and it showed in this style.
One of the structures that depict this style to perfection is the work of Frenchman Auguste Perret in the Champs-Elysees Theatre constructed in 1913.
This style was the beginning of the modern buildings we have around us today. It started in the mid-20th century across many countries. For instance, some say that it began with Bauhaus in Germany, others say it was with Le Corbusier in France while many believe it to have started with Frank Lloyd Wright in the United States. Amongst all these great architects, Le Corbusier’s work is worth mentioning as it helped to express modern architectural styles better.
Although the modern architectural style had impressive designs and notable improvements, critics still had something to say. The style withstood the criticism until the emergence of postmodern style in 1960. This postmodern architectural style joined the industry to improve on some areas of the modern style.
Apart from the few we mentioned in this article, other architectural styles have emerged, and many more are yet to surface. One thing though is that each new addition is an improvement or variations of previous styles.
Many of the house building plans we appreciate today goes way back to when builders were using stones to build. But one thing to understand is that the industry has continued to evolve. It started from when there was no distinction between skills until now that architectural science has become a course of study.
So, we believe that the world is yet to behold more enthralling architectural designs in the future.