The history of architecture

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Today architecture is something that is big and that many people are interested in and are engaged in. Literally impossible to live without architecture. Architecture is to create places to live, to create workplaces and to connect people. We therefore spend 90% of our time in buildings. Since the beginning of humanity, solutions have always been sought to shelter from the outside world, think for example of the cold, wild animals, enemies and so on. People build houses to live and have that as a basis. When you think of the history of humanity / world, building and architecture cannot be ignored at all. So it has always been one of the best points.
Where did architecture start and how did people deal with it? And how did it develop and who are the handy people who made it happen?

First, let’s list all phases of architecture as we know them today in a timeline.

In order to understand more of these movements and to see which people took part in them, we will show a building per movement and the most important architect at that time.

Prehistoric times

Stonehenge (architect onbekend)

Most important architect: unknown

The influences of the development of the prehistoric architecture play an important role in deciding what the prehistoric times were about. Those influences were: geographical, geological, religious, climatic, historical and socio-political.

In those prehistoric times there were a couple of cultural stages. First there was the stone age, which divides in three groups: the old stone age (paleolithic), the middle stone age (mesolithic) and the new stone age (neolithic). Secondly, the bronze age (minoan period for the crete and greek) and the third cultural stage was the iron age.

The architecture in that time had four constructive principles:

1. post and lintel

2. corbel or cantilevered

3. arch and vault

4. trusses

The earliest known types of architecture were dwellings (rockcaves, tents), religious monuments (monolith/menhir, megalithic) and burial grounds/mounds.


Ancient Egypt

Luxor Temple, architects: Amenhotep II en Amenhotep III
Luxor Temple by Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III

Most important architect: Imhotep

Egypt is very famous for the beautiful big pyramids, that are around 3000 years old. Pharaohs of kings of Egypt would have pyramids built so that when they died they could have the pyramid as a tomb for their bodies. They would be buried with many riches.
The pyramids are very special because when we look back at those times, we wouldn’t think it was possible for us to build such great treasures. Each block is two and a half tons, which is a lot, so the workers had to find ways to carry the blocks and build the pyramids. They carved and cut every block, and built temples and statues and they were very talented architects.


Trevi Fountain, by Nicola Salvi and Giuseppe Pannini

Most important architect: unknown

Classic architecture is a style of buildings originally constructed by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.  Classic architecture is the foundation for (among others) renaissance architecture.  Classical buildings in ancient Greek and Roman times were typically built from marble or other durable stones, brick, concrete and stone.

Some features of classical architecture are symmetry, columns in a specific style, durable building materials and rectangular buildings.



Kerk van de Heilige Apostelen, architect: onbekend
Church of the Holy Apostles

Most important architect: unknown

The most famous building in Byzantine architecture is the Hagia Sophia Church, this church held the title of the largest church in the world, until the Ottoman Empire conquered the Byzantine capital. Byzantine architecture is about choosing function over form. Some characteristics of Byzantine architecture are a symmetrical plan, Roman temple features amd a domed roof.



Kathedraal van Pisa, architecten: Buscheto en Rainaldo
Cathedral of Pisa by Buscheto and Rainaldo

Most important architect: unknown

Before the age of the gothic architecture, there was Romanesque architecture. This style of architecture was a mix of Roman, Carolingian and Ottonian, Byzantine and Germanic traditions. Some characteristics of the Romanesque architecture are semicircular arches for windows, doors and arcades, barrel or groin vaults, massive piers and walls and side isles with galleries above them.


Palace of Westminster, architect: Charles Barry
Palace of Westminster by Charles Barry

Most important architect: Antoni Gaudí

When you think of gothic architecture, you think of iconic buildings like Notre-Dame de Paris, Reims Cathedral, Milan Cathedral and the Westminster Abbey.

The gothic architecture has only five characteristics, despite the fact that the buildings look very complex. Those characteristics are: large stained glass windows, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses and ornate decoration. The three elements that really make gothic architecture gothic are the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress.


Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio, architect: Bramente
Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio by Bramente

Most important architect: Filippo Brunelleschi

The renaissance style of architecture is a reflection of the rebirth of classial culture. The firs renaissance architect is Filippo Brunelleschi. The most important characteristics of renaissance architecture are symmetry, proportion, geometry and regularity of parts inspired by classical Roman architecture.


Palace of Versailles, architect: meerdere architecten
Palace of Versailles by multiple architects

Most important architect: Antoni Gaudí

Baroque architecture is a style that is seen as a more theatrical version of renaissance architecture. It’s known for its dramatic lighting and colors, illusory effects and designs that challenged architectural features. The characteristics of baroque architecture are grandeur, drama and contrast, curvaceousness and dizzying array of rich surface treatment, twisting elements and glided statuary.


Asam Church by Egid Quirin Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam

Most important architects: Guarino Guarini en Filippo Juvara

Rococo architecture, or late baroque architecture, is an extreme and decorative development of baroque architecture. It was developed as a reaction against grandeur and symmetry. Characteristics of this architectural style are elaborate ornamentation, asymmetrical values, pastel colors and curved/serpentine lines.


Academy of Athens by Theophil Hansen

Most important architect: unknown

This style advocated a return to the ideals of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Neoclassical architecture has these characteristics: grandeur of scale, dramatic use of columns, Greek or Roman detail, simplicity of geometric forms and blank walls. This style can be divided into 3 types: a temple style building, a Palladian building and a classical blbock/square building.


Art nouveau

Casa Batlló by multiple architects

Most important architect: unknown

The main characteristic of art noveau is the long, sinious, organic line that is integrated in the designs of the buildings. Art nouveau is a style that not only cares about the architecture, but also looks after furnishing the buildings and makes sure it’s thought out  from inside out.


Beaux arts

Grand Palais by multiple architects

Most important architect: unknown

This style developed from the classic architecture with Greco-Roman styling. Beaux arts means fine arts in French. Characteristics of this style are that the buildings are massive and usually constructed with stone, symmetrical facades, flat/low-pitched roofs, adornment reminiscent of Greek and Roman architecture, pillars, arched windows and garlands.


Dreux Royal Chapel by Claude-Philippe Cramail and Pierre-Bernard Lefranc

This architectural style, inspired by the gothic architecture. The most common building types of this style are houses, schools and churches.  The characteristics of this style are the pointed arch (windows, doors, decorative elements), steeply pitched roofs and front facing gables.


Art deco

Chrysler Building by William Van Alen

Art deco buildings used materials like stucco, terracotta, decorative glass, chrome, steel and aluminum. Some of the characteristics of art deco architecture are the heavy geometric influences, triangular shapes, zigzags, trapezoidal shapes, straight and smooth lines and loud, vibrant and even kitschy colors.



Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright

Most important architects: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe en Frank Lloyd Wright

Modern architecture is an architectural style that is based on new and innovative technologies of construction, like the use of glass, steel and reinforced concrete. Modern architecture is about form following function, in other words: functionalism. It’s a rejection of ornament.

 The characteristics of this style are: lack of ornament and emphasis of recangular forms and horizontal and vertical lines.



Inntel Hotel Zaandam by Wilfried van Winden

This architecture style emerged as a reaction against the minimalism and uniformity favored by modern architecture. The key characteristics of this style are colors, textures, shapes (asymmetry) and humor. The architects of most of these buildings don’t think the is a objective reality or scientific of historical truth. They also think science and technology aren’t vehicles of human progress but suspect instrument of established power. They have a lot more views, that when we look at the buildings they design, we can see what their views are and how they influence the postmodern architecture.


Villa in Udaipur

Neomodernism is a current architecture style that has a lot of the same characteristics of moderism. They both reject the classical ornamentation, decorations, and deliberate ambitions to continue pre-modernist traditions. They are designed to be largely monolithic and functional.



Galaxy SOHO complex by Zaha Hadid Architects

Most important architect: Zaha Hadid

Parametric architecture is a style where the relationship between elements is used to manipulate and inform the design of complex geometries and structures. You can divide parametric modeling systemd in two types: propagation-based systems and constraint systems.

Those buildings are very complex, organic and have geometric shapes.