Have you ever looked at ravishing buildings or structures and wondered what went into their making? Architecture is more than just planning, designing, and constructing — a lot goes into the process. Several types of architecture have emerged through different eras. Take the example of the Islamic architecture that emerged in the 7th century or Victorian architecture that emerged from the Victorian Era. Each architectural type has unique features, distinguishing it from the others.
Architectures are not just aesthetically pleasing to look at, but also take you to the time they represent. The riches lie in the details. From balcony to doors, each feature represents symbols, culture, and perceptions. If you want to learn more about it, keep reading as we embark on our journey into exploring different kinds of architecture. There are several types of architecture, and each has various subtypes. In this analysis, we will look at a few of them in detail.
“Types of Architecture” refers to the various styles and methods of building design that have been developed throughout history. They are often characterized by their distinctive features, materials, and periods of popularity. This includes traditional styles like Gothic, Renaissance, Colonial, or Art Deco, as well as modern and contemporary styles such as Brutalism, Postmodernism, and Sustainable Architecture. Each architectural type reflects the culture, technology, and needs of the time and place it originated from.
What is Architecture?
Architecture is the practice of designing buildings, communities, residential accommodations, industrial complexes, and any other artificial construction or environment. It is also considered an art form, as these buildings often tend to be created or designed with some aesthetic effects. As a profession, it includes the designing, supervising, construction, examination, remodeling, or restoration of any building.
If you look at Wikipedia, it has defined architecture as an art and technique associated with the design of a building rather than its actual construction. Thus, it involves processes such as the initial sketching of an idea, conceiving a layout, planning, designing, and finally the construction of a building. The word architecture itself originates from the Latin word Architectura, from Ancient Greek. Architecture has rather significant significance when it comes to culture and history, as it can be used to study the course of civilization over the years.
However, when we talk about architecture as an art, many people inadvertently think about ancient castles, historic sites, and old cities, but architecture is not confined to the aisle of history. In fact, contemporary or modern architecture still plays a large role and has some of the most beautiful examples, as described in the following video:
Type 1. Romanesque Architecture
Romanesque architecture drew inspiration from Roman, Islamic, and Byzantine architecture. It came to light when early Christians took control. Mostly, it included structures such as monasteries, cathedrals, and churches. Since there were risks of invasion, the architecture resembled fortresses. Besides shelter and place for daily activities, they acted as defense structures. This form of architecture is further divided into three periods: Pre-Romanesque, Early Romanesque, and Mature Romanesque.
In the Pre-Romanesque period, people accepted Christianity and architecture switched to stone buildings from wooden ones. During the early Romanesque period, the churches were covered with vaulted ceilings using advanced construction techniques. Lastly, in the Mature Romanesque period, the walls were articulated. The characteristics of Romanesque architecture are thick walls, massive stone, arcades, towers, towering round arches, and small windows. The Pisa Cathedral is an example of this architecture type.
- Inspired by Roman, Islamic, and Byzantine styles.
- Developed during the era of early Christians with structures like churches, cathedrals, and monasteries often resembling fortresses.
- Progressed through three periods: Pre-Romanesque, Early Romanesque, and Mature Romanesque.
- Key features include thick walls, massive stonework, arcades, towers, towering round arches, and small windows.
- Example: Pisa Cathedral.
Type 2. Gothic Architecture
Gothic architecture represents the connection between religion and art. Initially, it appeared in the year 1140 at Saint-Denis in France. The design was then quickly and widely adopted, revolutionizing the cathedral structure across Western Europe. The notable characteristics of this architecture are thin walls and large stained glass that illuminates the interior.
This was just the beginning. What followed was the pointed arches, flying buttresses, ornate decoration, and ribbed vaults. It enhanced the visual experience dramatically, improving the lighting. Some theologians of that time believed light to be divine. For them, this architecture was seen as a means to elevate human consciousness from the earthly realms to the heavenly ones. An example of Gothic architecture is Duomo di Milano, The Cathedral Church of Milan.
- Represents a blend of religion and art, originated in France around 1140.
- Characterized by thin walls, large stained glass windows, pointed arches, flying buttresses, ornate decoration, and ribbed vaults.
- Built to improve lighting and elevate human consciousness from earthly realms to heavenly ones.
- Example: Duomo di Milano, The Cathedral Church of Milan.
Type 3. Neoclassical Architecture
In Neoclassical architecture, the inspirations are drawn from ancient Rome and Greece. It started in the 18th century when the science of archaeology came into being. This led to the discovery of Roman antiquity. At first, people were amazed, and they drew inspiration from it. Eventually, there were Grand Tours held where travelers visited these places in search of arts and culture.
The characteristics that define this architecture are simple geometric forms, blank walls, Doric Greek or Roman detailing, grand scale volumes, and dramatic columns. It symbolizes a perfect balance of simplicity and sophistication. But let’s not forget that Neoclassical architecture is more about what people thought ancient Rome and Greece were like, and not how they really were. The Paris Pantheon, The White House, and Buckingham Palace are examples of Neoclassical architecture.
- Derives inspiration from ancient Rome and Greece, emerged in the 18th century.
- Characterized by simple geometric forms, blank walls, Doric Greek or Roman detailing, grand-scale volumes, and dramatic columns.
- Reflects perceptions of what people thought ancient Rome and Greece were like.
- Examples: The Paris Pantheon, The White House, Buckingham Palace.
Type 4. Baroque Architecture
The architectural type we examined above was based on simplicity. Baroque architecture is just the opposite. It appeared in Italy in the 17th century as a part of the counter-reformation. This architecture was designed beautifully with marbles, ornaments, sculptures, stones, and paintings to engage the senses and emotions of the viewer. It was an attempt to oppose the Protestant Reformation while reforming the Catholic Church. The designs focused on the details to create a heaven-like appearance.
Large domes, gilded sculptures, coffered ceilings, concave and convex walls, and double-sloped mansard roofs are the characteristics that define Baroque architecture. It is divided into three periods: Early Baroque, High Baroque, and Late Baroque. During the Early Baroque period, imagery was used to create three-dimensional spaces. The High Baroque period saw the construction of Baroque buildings and interior designs. Lastly, in the Late Baroque period, this architectural style spread across Europe. Examples of Baroque architecture are St Paul’s Cathedral in London and Les Invalides in Paris.
- Emerged in Italy in the 17th century as an opposite response to the simplicity of Neoclassical architecture.
- Richly decorated with marbles, ornaments, sculptures, stones, and paintings.
- Characterized by large domes, gilded sculptures, coffered ceilings, concave and convex walls, and double-sloped mansard roofs.
- Progressed through three stages: Early Baroque, High Baroque, and Late Baroque.
- Examples: St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Les Invalides in Paris.
Type 5. Modern Architecture
We started our study with the architecture of the past. Now let’s head on to the present and future architectures. Modern architecture is based on the philosophy of “form follows function.” This means the architecture should be designed based on its purpose. It gave me a new perspective when looking at buildings and structures. This kind of architecture emerged at the end of the 19th century, focusing on the clarity of forms and eliminating unnecessary details.
The Industrial Revolution has a role to play in the emergence of this architectural type. The mass production of iron and steel made wide-scale construction of buildings possible. These materials then became primary raw materials in construction. Plus, there was advancement in architectural technology during that time, which further changed the course of this industry forever. The characteristics of modern architecture are flowing interior spaces, rectilinear forms, roof terraces, lack of ornament, and the relationship of interior spaces with the environment. The Seagram Building in New York is an example of modern architecture.
- Based on the philosophy of “form follows function,” emerged at the end of the 19th century.
- Developed with the Industrial Revolution and advancements in architectural technology.
- Characterized by flowing interior spaces, rectilinear forms, roof terraces, lack of ornament, and relation of interior spaces with the environment.
- Example: The Seagram Building in New York.
Type 6. Postmodern Architecture
Previously, the historic reference was used in architecture. Then came modernism, which favored serving functions. This influenced Postmodern architecture. In simple words, this form of architecture is akin to modern architecture in terms of serving a function. However, it includes arts and crafts, inspired by other types of architecture such as Neoclassical. Nevertheless, they must follow the rules of modern architecture including simplicity, functionality, and minimalism.
M2 Building and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao are examples of Postmodern architecture. M2 Building was designed by Kengo Kuma in Tokyo, Japan. It includes architectural elements such as arches, corbels, and dentils. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was designed by Frank Gehry in Bilbao, Spain. Materials such as titanium, glass, and limestones were used in its construction. It is well-known for its complexity and form.
- Combines elements of modern architecture with historic references.
- Incorporates arts and crafts inspired by other types of architecture while adhering to modern principles of simplicity, functionality, and minimalism.
- Examples include the M2 Building in Tokyo and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain.
A Compilation of Architecture Types
The following table compiles the different types of architecture and their characteristics, which also include those that are not mentioned. Take a look:
|Type of Architecture
|It is inspired by the Roman and Greek empires
|It heavily favors the use of symmetry, columns, and ornate decorations
|Older museums, temples, and government buildings
|It first originated in the European Middle Ages
|It involves an intricate yet delicate aesthetic using tall and slender spires, stained window panes, and pointed arches
|Cathedrals, churches, and European castles
|Takes heavy inspiration from classical architecture while incorporating innovative and bold new ideas originating from 16th-century Italy.
|An emphasis on symmetry, columns, pediments, entablatures, arches, and domes
|Palaces, museums, and chapels
|Originating in early 17th-century Italy, it was initially used to describe buildings that strayed from the then-principal architectural style.
|Reliant on vaulted cupolas, rows of pillars, and a luxuriant interior design
|Theaters, cathedrals, and churches
|It traces its roots to the early to mid-19th century British Empire, under the reign of Queen Victoria.
|Inspired by Gothic architecture, with heavy use of asymmetry, bright colors, and a maximalist interior design.
|Residential houses, Government building
|Its roots can be found at the end of the 19th century with the industrial revolution
|Favors modernism, as it focuses on function, adopting a minimalistic design
|Commercial buildings, shopping complexes, and current houses
Significance of architecture
But why does a person need to know more about architecture? Well, there are certain upsides when it comes to architecture, such as:
1. Promotes Tourism
The significance of architecture isn’t limited to aesthetically pleasing buildings; rather, it can directly affect our society by driving the economy. There are several examples that have used architecture to promote tourism. People travel all across the world to see some great wonders of architecture, such as the Taj Mahal, the Roman Coliseum, the mysterious Pyramids and so on.
2. Cultural Representation
Furthermore, architecture is the perfect cultural representation of society. Even after hundreds of years, people still marvel at the ingenuity behind the construction of the Pyramids and, by association, wonder about the lives and civilization of Ancient Egypt. A building can reflect parts of our history, including not only culture but also climate and other environmental factors. These buildings tell a vivid story to anyone willing to listen.
3. Strengthen Community bonds
Architecture can also be the driving force that fosters a strong bond and unites a community. There are many examples of people coming together to protect a heritage site or a historic building, defying the government. They can also be used as a source of inspiration and can even be emotional for some.