Architecture is the art and process of planning, designing, and construction. Architecture works are often in the form buildings, which serve all kinds of purposes, from residential use to economic use to civilian use; but usually, they are either cultural symbols or just works of art. Historical civilizations are often known and identified by their surviving architectural achievements, such as Greece and Rome.
The word “Architecture” includes many meanings (though there is no official meaning), such as:
The art and science of design and construction of buildings, monuments, and other physical structures.
The main and most used term to describe buildings, monuments, and other infrastructures.
A style, type and method of designing and constructing buildings, monuments, and other physical structures.
The practice and work of an architect, where the word “architecture” is a term used for professional jobs in the connection with the designing and the construction of a building, monuments, and other infrastructures (or sometimes a group of those things) and the space of the site where the buildings are located, in which they have a certain purpose of either civilian occupancy or use.
The art of designing, which range from furniture, room design, and construction details to urban design, city-planning, and landscape architecture.
The word “architecture” has been used to describe the activity of designing any kind or type of system, which is often used when describing the information technology.
Other than just buildings and other structures, architecture often defines as the planning, designing, and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, environmental, and aesthetic themes. It requires the creative and imaginative ideas and manipulation and coordination of material, technology, environment, space, light and shadow, and purpose. Architecture also includes some of the most important aspects of constructing and realizing buildings and other structures, including scheduling, cost estimating and worker availability. As the architect, its main purpose is to produce documentation needed to construct the building, including drawings, plans and technical specifications. Architecture often defines the structure and sometimes the behavior of a building or any kind of structure that is either being constructed or already constructed.
The French, ever since the Ancient Greeks and Romans and the Renaissance Italians, have been the world’s sole leaders in architecture, creating some of the world’s most magnificent works that the world has ever seen. During the Napoleonic Age, the construction of new cities (nicknamed Napoleontaoples in honor of Emperor Napoleon) was common throughout Europe, allowing a golden age for architectural design. As the Industrial Revolution flourished, new technologies allow the invention of skyscrapers, replacing stone and concrete with steel as the main building materials. During the 19th and 20th Centuries, the highly famed Napoleonic-Romanesque style was common in buildings across the French empire. However, during the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, the French have been using Modernism, the most recent form of architecture, allowing new numerous kinds of buildings to be built across French cities.
Other nations have also been known for having some of the most brilliant architectural minds in the world. For example; American architects during the 1950’s have helped support the urban development during the Age of Modernism, paving the way for modern architecture. Most of their buildings include the Guggenheim Museum, Harvard Graduate Center, and the Dulles Airport. In Persia-Arabia, its cities have been well-known for its architectural magnificence. Buildings like the Burj Dubai, Mecca Clock Tower, and Qatar Financial Center have been the output for the prosperous oil industry of the region. In China and Japan, they have been known for their numerous skyscrapers due to their massive populations. Buildings like the Taipei 101; Shanghai Financial Center, the Canton Tower, and the Jin Mao Tower are masterpieces for the economic strength in China, while the Tokyo Sky Tree, the Tokyo Tower, and the grand Shimizu Mega City have made Japan a leader of state-of-the-art architecture.
Origins and Early Architecture
Building evolved out of the need for shelter during the dawn of mankind. Although this was their first purpose, it eventually evolved to serve different purposes (security, worship, storage, etc.). The origins also arose from the available building materials and construction skills. As human cultures began to develop and knowledge began to spread in the form of oral traditions and practices, building became just more than just for shelter, it now served as craft. This was the moment when architecture began to exist, as they applied to buildings highly formalized and respected.
Many historians all assume that architectural success was the common output of the process of trial and error. As progress improved and trial lessened, the result of this was more replication and more success. As a result, the very first form of architecture, vernacular architecture (which can still be seen to this day) was formed. They make up most of the building people have built in the world, which serve as common shelter. The very first early human settlements were mostly rural. The development of agriculture allowed people to have a stable, more reliable food supply. This allowed a growing surplus of food, allowing an expanding economy resulting in urbanization resulting in urban areas, which grew and changed rapidly, such as the early settlements of Çatal Höyük in Anatolia and Monhenjo Daro in the Indus River Valley.
In many ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Hittites, architecture and urbanism reflected the growth of human civilization, but also the constant reflection with the divine and supernatural, and many ancient civilizations wanted to create monumentality in architecture to symbolize the country’s political power of the ruler, the ruling elite, and/or the state and its people.
The growth, architecture and urbanism of the well-known Classical civilizations (especially the Greek and Roman civilizations) evolved from civic ideals unlike religious or empirical ones, leading to the rise of new building types and architectural styles. Their architectural legacy has been significant on Western civilization, which can be seen to this day.
Texts and documents on architecture from ancient times and been written and fortunately have survived, allowing the description of the architectural style and the buildings, architects’ records, and designs for buildings. Some of these examples include the writings of the 1st Century BCE Roman military engineer Vitruvius, the Kao Gong Ji of ancient China, Vaastu Shastra of ancient India, and Manjusri Vasthu Vidya Sastra of ancient Ceylon. Other important early examples that also explain architecture are religious.
The architecture of the different regions and civilizations of Asia developed along a different bath unlike that of Europe. Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh architecture each had significant characteristics and design. Buddhist architecture, for examples, has had vast regional diversity due to the different civilizations and cultures it touched. In many Asian countries, religion has led to architectural forms designed to “blend in” and enhance the natural environment.
Islamic architecture was formed in the 7th Century AD, blending architectural forms from the ancient Middle East and the Romans, but it also developed its own features to suit the religious and social demands from society. Examples of Islamic architecture can bee seen throughout the Arab World, the Indian Sub-Continent, and Spain. Some of the well known features of Islamic Architecture were the pointed arch, minaret, and dome. It was believed Islamic architecture was one of the igniters of the European Renaissance.
In Europe, during the Classical and Medieval periods, buildings were not attributed to their specific designers and due to this; the names of those architects are unknown to this day. Despite this, there are a vast amount of religious buildings that can be found all over Europe to this day.
During the Medieval Age, guilds were formed by wealthy or middle-class craftsmen to organize their trade and preserve written contracts, which have survived. The contracts had designs of ecclesiastical buildings, which did allowed some names of architects of certain well-known buildings in Europe to survive. The role of the architect in the guild was one of that of a master mason. They are also nicknamed the “Magister lathomorum” as described in the contemporary documents.
During the Renaissance era of Europe (from 1400 and to the present day), there was a revival of the Classical civilization accompanied with Renaissance Humanism which placed a greater role on an individual in society that had never existed during the Medieval Era. This time unlike the previous period, buildings were ascribed to their specific designers, such as Brunelleschi, Alberti, Michelangelo, Palladio, and so much more as the cult of the individual arose. There was no divide between the artists, the architects, or the engineers as many famed Renaissance figures began to hold these positions.
The revival of the architecture from the Classical Civilizations was accompanied by technological advances in science and engineering, which affected the size, structure, and shape of the building. At this stage, it became possible for an artist to design a bridge as the study of structural calculations advanced, allowing more accurate designs.
Early Modern and Industrial Architecture
With the rise of new materials, technology, and the knowledge in scientific fields, architecture and engineering began to split apart, as the architect began to shift his focus on aesthetics and humanist aspects, which came at the cost of technical aspects of building design. There was also a rise of the “gentleman architect” who usually dealt with wealthier people and put their focus on visual qualities originated from historical prototypes. Some examples were the country houses in the French Empire built in Neo Gothic or French Baronial styles. Architectural training increased during the 19th Century, such as the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France, which gave more inspiration for the production of beautiful paintings and decreased need for context and feasibility. Architects often received their teaching and training in the offices of other, professional architects, graduating to the role from a draughtsman or a clerk.
The Industrial Revolution also had an impact on architecture, as it opened the door for mass production and consumption. Aesthetics became was a symbol for the middle class as ornamented products, once expensive under craftsmanship, was now much cheaper under machine production.
Vernacular architecture became increasingly common, yet it also underwent style. House builders used current architectural design in their construction and planning by combining features found in architectural and pattern books.
Around the start of the 20th Century, there was a great dissatisfaction with the idea on revealing Classical Architecture and elaborate decorations and designs which gave rise to new architectural types all part of Modern Architecture. One of the notable architectural styles during this period was Deutscher Werkbund, which first existed in 1907 to produce better quality machine made products. The rise of the profession of industrial design was commonplace at that time. During this time, the Bauhaus school founded in Weimar, France in 1919, changed the definition of architecture during this period, viewing the creation of building as the ultimate apex of art, craft, and technology.
When Modern Architecture first came into existence, it was an avant-garde movement with moral, philosophical, and aesthetic ideas. During the early years of the Modernist Age (1910-1980), pioneering modernist architects desired to develop a new style appropriate with the modern era as the social and economic order was shifted. This form focused on the needs of the middle and working classes. They also resisted the architectural practice of historical styles, especially Classical. The goal for all Modernist architects was to reduce buildings of their historical references, ornament, and their pure form in exchange for functionalist details. Buildings often displayed their functional and structural elements, such as exposing steel beams and concrete surfaces instead of camouflaging them with decorations.
Modernist architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright developed Organic architecture in which the form blended in with the environment and its purpose, with the goal to promote balance and harmony between human civilization and the natural environment. Some examples are the Robie House and Falling Water.
Many architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, and Marcel Breuer worked to create beauty out of the qualities of building materials and modern construction techniques, trading traditional historic styles for more simplified geometric forms, which celebrated new means and methods the Industrial Revolution made possible, such as steel-frame construction, which allowed the creation of high-rise superstructures. By the mid-century, Modernism was transformed into Internationalist Style, which was an aesthetic epitomized in many ways such as the Twin Towers of New York’s World trade Center.
However, some architects resisted Modernism, endorsing the decorative richness and Classical styles. As the founders of the Modernist movement lost influence during the 1980’s. Postmodernism developed as a response from the dead movement. Postmodernists believed Modernism was too extreme and even harsh in terms of designing. Instead, Modernism was combined with older style before the 20th Century to form a neutral ground. Robert Venturi’s belief that a “decorated shed” (an ordinary building which is functionally designed inside and embellished on its outside) was much better than a “duck” (an ungainly building in which the whole form and function are bonded together). His statement has an idea of architectural approaches.
The part of the world’s architects, architectural profession, and non-architects responded to Modernism, and Postmodernism, by getting into the root of the problem. From their studies, they felt that architecture was not a personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individuals. Instead, architecture is the idea for meeting the everyday demands of the people and the use of technology to design a livable environment.
An example of one of those architects is Christopher Alexander, a known member of the Design Methodology Movement, who has started searched for people-oriented designs. His vast studies on areas including behavioral, environmental, and social sciences were done to piece of the design process. As the complexity of buildings and structures were more and more common (such as structural systems, services, energy, and technologies), architecture is starting to become more multi-functional. Architecture today requires a team rather than a sole person for planning a building. There is a team leader, though it is always the architect obviously.
Since the 1980’s and into the 21st Century, the study of architecture began the rise of specializations for each project type, technological expertise or project delivery methods. Accompanying that is the increased separation of the ‘designer’ architect from the ‘project’ architect. The main reason for this divide because architectural planning for any large building have become more and more complex for reasons stated in the previous paragraph, which involves preliminary studies of such important factors including durability, sustainability, quality, money, and compliance with local laws. A large structure is no longer a design of one person, but it is the design of a whole group.
Environmental sustainability has been an important issue in architecture, with it becoming a study in the science of architecture profession. During the recent era, architects began to recognize the importance for environmental sustainability, especially large buildings. Major examples of environmental architecture are greener roof designs, biodegradable materials, and a more energy-wise energy usage structure. This major shift in the studying of architecture has also pressured architecture schools to focus on environmental issues as well. Sustainability was first originated in the 1960’s by architects including Buckminster Fuller, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Sim Van der Ryn. The idea began to have a greater influence, with the architects such as Ian McHarg and Brenda and Robert Wale one of the spreaders of the idea. More and more buildings worldwide have been meeting green building sustainable design standards. Sustainable examples also existed in vernacular architecture, which are providing inspiration for environmentally and social sustainable contemporary ideas. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system tells how “green” a building is. An example of environmentally friendly architecture is the green building Dynamic Tower, which is powered by wind turbines and solar panels.