Ever since the dawn of civilization, mankind has built structures to call home and to mark their presence. But the question remains, how did it all start? Architecture is an old art, part of every civilization ever known. It has even been said that the presence of an architect was as vital then as a doctor or historian today, as architects were responsible for extraordinary buildings like the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids of Giza, and The Colosseum.
The earliest structures were made out of the materials they had on hand. These could include wood, stone, thatch, adobe, sandstone, and mud. As civilizations grew, they replaced traditionally ‘natural’ materials, such as mud and wood, with manufactured materials, like iron, steel, concrete, and plaster. As cultures shifted and developed, more complex designs emerged. Architects used different styles of design and materials to create aesthetically pleasing and functional buildings.
According to experts, the earliest recorded examples of architecture date back to around 3000 BC, in the form of ancient Egyptian buildings in the Lower Nile region. In the Islamic world, known as the ‘Golden Age’, Persian and Moorish architects created some of the most beautiful and influential buildings ever seen in Arabia, Central and West Asia, North Africa, and India between the 8th and 16th centuries.
Then modern architecture produced iconic structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, which challenged the limits of engineering and design. Throughout the 20th century, modernism and postmodernism movements produced movement in architecture. Countless structures have been built in this style since then, so much so that it has become the predominant style of architecture used today.
Modern architecture has also had a critical impact on the development of cities. In the cities of the modern age, buildings are becoming taller, more complex and they are built with stronger materials and with the help of high technology. Architects are now building buildings that are environmentally friendly and require less energy consumption, making them more efficient. They are also incorporating new materials and technologies into the buildings for better insulation and sustainability.
Great architects have been able to blend form and function to create remarkable structures that transcend time. Architecture has always been an important part of human life and will continue to be so for centuries to come, as it has been for centuries in the past. At its foundations, architecture is still based on the same principles of proportion, balance and harmony, but continues to push boundaries and be adapted to fit our changing needs.
Gothic architecture emerged between the 12th and 16th centuries as a response to the Romanesque style. Defined by its pointed arches and large stained glass windows, Gothic architecture was prominent in cathedrals, churches, and abbeys throughout Europe. The pointed arches allowed Gothic structures to reach impressive heights, while still maintaining a strong structure. One of the most famous examples of Gothic architecture is Notre Dame de Paris, a monument of French medieval catholic architecture.
Baroque architecture is a style of architecture that originated in Italy during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It is characterized by grandeur, curved forms, and the use of ornamentation to achieve a sense of balance and harmony. The best known example of Baroque architecture is the Vatican in Rome. It was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a leading Baroque architect, in 1626. Other famous examples include the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione in Rome and San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome.
Modern architecture emerged in the late 19th century and is characterized by its use of modern materials and technology. Highly functional, modern buildings usually employ steel, concrete and glass, and are based on strict geometric forms. Early modern buildings were often designed with a focus on functionality, minimizing ornamentation and placing an emphasis on practicality. The most famous of all modern architectural styles is the International Style, which has been used for decades in cities all around the world.
Contemporary architecture is the latest form of architecture and is a combination of many different styles from the past and present. It emphasizes the use of new technologies and materials, such as glass and steel, as well as larger amounts of ornamentation than modern architecture. Contemporary architecture can also be characterized by its diverse range of forms and styles, including postmodernism and deconstructivism. Famous examples of contemporary architecture are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France.