/ ɑːrkətektʃər /
ETYM Latin architectura, from architectus: cf. French architecture. Related to Architect.
1. An architectural product or work.
2. The discipline dealing with the principles of design and construction and ornamentation of fine buildings.
3. The profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their esthetic effect.
Art of designing structures. The term covers the design of the visual appearance of structures; their internal arrangements of space; selection of external and internal building materials; design or selection of natural and artificial lighting systems, as well as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; and design or selection of decorations and furnishings. Architectural style may emerge from evolution of techniques and styles particular to a culture in a given time period with or without identifiable individuals as architects, or may be attributed to specific individuals or groups of architects working together on a project.
Little remains of the earliest forms of architecture, but archeologists have examined remains of prehistoric sites and documented villages of wooden-post buildings with above-ground construction of organic materials (mud or wattle and daub) from the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. More extensive remains of stone-built structures have given clues to later Neolithic farming communities as well as to the habitations, storehouses, and religious and civic structures of early civilizations. The best documented are those of ancient Egypt, where exhaustive work in the 19th and 20th centuries revealed much about both ordinary buildings and monumental structures, such as the pyramid tombs near modern Cairo and the temple and tomb complexes concentrated at Luxor and Thebes.
The basic forms of Classical architecture evolved in Greece between the 16th and 2nd centuries bc. A hallmark was the post-and-lintel construction of temples and public structures, classified into the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders and defined by simple, scrolled, or acanthus-leaf capitals for support columns. The Romans copied and expanded on Greek Classical forms, notably introducing bricks and concrete and developing the vault, arch, and dome for public buildings and aqueducts.
This form of architecture developed primarily in the Eastern Roman Empire from the 4th century, with its center at Byzantium (later named Constantinople, now Istanbul). It is dominated by the arch and dome, with the Classical orders reduced in importance. Its most notable features are churches, some very large, based on the Greek cross plan (Hagia Sophia, Istanbul; St Mark's, Venice), with formalized painted and mosaic decoration.
This developed from the 8th century, when the Islamic religion spread from its center in the Middle East west to Spain and east to China and parts of the Philippine Islands. Notable features are the development of the tower with dome and the pointed arch. Islamic architecture, chiefly through Spanish examples such as the Great Mosque at Córdoba and the Alhambra in Granada, profoundly influenced Christian church architecture, for example, the adoption of the pointed arch in Gothic architecture.
This style flourished in Western European Christianity from the 10th to the 12th centuries. It is marked by churches with massive walls for structural integrity, rounded arches, small windows, and resulting dark volumes of interior space. In England the style is generally referred to as Norman architecture (an example is Durham Cathedral). Romanesque enjoyed a renewal of interest in Europe and the us in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Gothic architecture emerged out of Romanesque. The development of the pointed arch and flying buttress made it possible to change from thick supporting walls to lighter curtain walls with extensive expansion of window areas (and stained-glass artwork) and resulting increases in interior light. Gothic architecture was developed mainly in France from the 12th to 16th centuries. The style is divided into Early Gothic (for example, Sens Cathedral), High Gothic (Chartres Cathedral), and Late or Flamboyant Gothic. In England the corresponding divisions are Early English (Salisbury Cathedral), Decorated (Wells Cathedral), and Perpendicular (Kings College Chapel, Cambridge). Gothic was also developed extensively in Germany and neighboring countries and in Italy.
The 15th and 16th centuries in Europe saw the rebirth of Classical form and motifs in the Italian Neo-Classical movement. A major source of inspiration for the great Renaissance architects—Andrea Palladio, Leon Battista Alberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donato Bramante, and Buonarotti Michelangelo—was the work of the 1st-century bc Roman engineer Pollio Vitruvius. The Palladian style was later used extensively in England by Inigo Jones; Christopher Wren also worked in the Classical idiom. Classicism, or Neo-Classicism as it is also known, has been popular in the us from the 18th century, as evidenced in much of the civic and commercial architecture since the time of the early republic (the us Capitol and Supreme Court buildings in Washington; many state capitols).
European architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries elaborated on Classical models with exuberant and extravagant decoration. In large-scale public buildings, the style is best seen in the innovative works of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini in Italy and later in those of John Vanbrugh, Nicholas Hawksmoor, and Christopher Wren in England. There were numerous practitioners in France and the German-speaking countries, and notably in Vienna.
This architecture extends the Baroque style with an even greater extravagance of design motifs, using a new lightness of detail and naturalistic elements, such as shells, flowers, and trees.
European architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries again focused on the more severe Classical idiom (inspired by archeological finds), producing, for example, the large-scale rebuilding of London by Robert Adam and John Nash and later of Paris by Georges Haussman.
The late 19th century saw a Gothic revival in Europe and the us, particularly evident in churches (Ralph Adams Cram's work in the us—for example, St John the Divine, New York) and public buildings (the Houses of Parliament, London, designed by Charles Barry and A W Pugin).
This architecture arising at the end of the 19th century countered Neo-Gothic, using sinuous, flowing shapes for buildings, room plans, and interior design. The style is characterized by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland (Glasgow Art School) and Antonio Gaudí in Spain (Church of the Holy Family, Barcelona), and design elements were used especially in France but also in England and the us.
This style of architecture, referred to as the Modern Movement, began in the 1900s with the Vienna School and the German Bauhaus and was also developed in the us, Scandinavia, and France. With Functionalism as its central precept, its hallmarks are the use of spare line and form, an emphasis on rationalism, and the elimination of ornament. It makes great use of technological advances in materials such as glass, steel, and concrete and of construction techniques that allow flexibility of design. Notable practitioners include Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Charles Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier. Modern architecture has furthered the notion of the planning of extensive multibuilding projects and of whole towns or communities.
This architecture emerged in the us, Japan, and Europe in the 1980s, with one trend toward high-tech forms and another reverting back to using simplified or geometric elements from earlier styles to decorate traditional forms.