Architecture encompasses a vast realm where diverse cultures and traditions converge, materializing in the form of buildings. Throughout history, numerous architectural styles have emerged. And each reflecting the artistic, social, and technological influences of its time. From the majestic grandeur of classical architecture to the sleek lines of modernism, architectural styles encapsulate the spirit and aspirations of societies. Further, these styles are categorized based on their unique characteristics, forms, construction methods, building materials, and geographical location.
Understanding architectural styles and their key characteristics allows us to discern the era in which the building was constructed. This is why we list some of the most famous and distinct architectural styles and their defining features.
Understanding Types of Architecture
Before moving to architectural styles, let’s get to know the types of architecture first. Based on the function of the building and human activity, the types of architecture include:
- Residential buildings: for residential use such as houses, villas, apartments, dormitories, duplexes, etc.
- Commercial buildings: for commercial use such as offices, retail spaces, warehouses, restaurants, hotels, factories, etc.
- Public buildings: for public use, usually non-profit spaces such as museums, schools, government, hospitals, stadiums, libraries, airports, religious spaces, etc.
Given different purposes of architecture, now you understand different types of architecture. Meanwhile, the defining features of the most famous architectural styles tell you more about when and how the structure was constructed. Now, let’s delve into some of the most notable architectural styles throughout history.
What is Architectural Style?
Architectural style refers to the unique design elements that define a particular period, region, or culture. It encompasses everything from the shape and form of the building to the materials used in its construction. In fact, the development of architectural style is influenced by a variety of factors, including cultural traditions, technological advancements, and the availability of materials.
As has been noted, each architectural style has its unique character and legacy, reflecting the cultural, social, and technological changes that have shaped our world over the centuries. The distinctive features of each style serve as a fascinating reflection of the built environment and offer an opportunity to appreciate the rich diversity of our architectural heritage. Now, let’s fly through human’s history and have an understanding of a list of architectural styles that you need to know about.
15 Architectural Styles and Their Defining Features
Ancient Egyptian architecture is characterized by monumental structures, such as pyramids and temples, built primarily from massive stone blocks. The most famous examples are the Pyramids of Giza, which were built as tombs for the pharaohs. Other notable structures include the Temple of Karnak and the Abu Simbel temples.
Greek architecture is known for its classical orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These orders are defined by the design of the columns, capitals, and entablature. Greek temples, such as the Parthenon in Athens, are the most iconic examples of this style. In addition, Greek architecture also includes theaters. For example, the Theater of Epidaurus and civic buildings like the Stoa of Attalos are famous Greek style architecture.
It’s a fact that Roman architecture borrowed heavily from the Greeks. However, it also introduced new innovations, such as the arch, the dome, and the use of concrete. The Colosseum in Rome, an amphitheater used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles, showcases the mastery of these techniques. Other examples of Roman architecture include the Pantheon, with its large concrete dome, and the Pont du Gard, an aqueduct bridge in France.
Emerged in Europe in the 11th century, Romanesque architecture is characterized by semi-circular arches, thick walls, and small windows. Notable examples include the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe in France and the Speyer Cathedral in Germany.
Gothic architecture developed in the 12th century. And it’s distinguished by its pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses. These innovations allowed for taller structures, larger windows, and more intricate ornamentation. The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Chartres Cathedral in France are prime examples of Gothic architecture.
Renaissance architecture, which originated in Italy in the 14th century, was a revival of classical Greek and Roman styles. It is characterized by symmetry, proportion. And the use of columns and pilasters are also their features. Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome for the Florence Cathedral and Leon Battista Alberti’s façade for the Santa Maria Novella are iconic examples of this style.
No one won’t be attracted by grandeur, drama, and elaborate ornamentation of the Baroque style. Emerged in the 17th century, it has other common features such as curved lines, gilded details, and the use of light and shadow. The Palace of Versailles in France and the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome are prime examples of this style.
Neoclassical architecture is originated in the mid-18th century. It is a revival of classical Greek and Roman styles. At the same time, it blends with an emphasis on simplicity, symmetry, and proportion. The United States Capitol and the White House are examples of neoclassical architecture in America, while the Panthéon in Paris exemplifies the style in Europe.
Art Deco is a style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. This kind of architecture is famous for its bold geometric shapes, rich colors, and lavish ornamentation. Architects often use Art Deco on the architecture of movie theaters, skyscrapers, and luxury hotels. The Empire State Building in New York City and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris are iconic examples of Art Deco architecture.
The Bauhaus style, which is from Germany in the early 20th century, emphasizes functionality, simplicity, and the use of modern materials. It normally features clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and open floor plans. The Bauhaus school itself, designed by Walter Gropius, and the Villa Tugendhat by Mies van der Rohe are notable examples of this style.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the International Style emerged. It features clean lines, the use of glass and steel, and a lack of ornamentation. Obviously, people tend to use it on high-rise buildings and corporate architecture. The Seagram Building in New York City, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier are prime examples of the International Style.
Brutalism, which developed in the 1950s and 1960s, is characterized by massive, fortress-like concrete structures with exposed surfaces and a raw, unfinished appearance. The term “Brutalist” comes from the French word for raw concrete, “béton brut.” Notable examples include the Barbican Centre in London and the Unité d’Habitation by Le Corbusier in Marseille.
Postmodern architecture, which emerged in the 1960s as a reaction to the austerity of modernism, is characterized by a return to ornamentation, historical references, and a playful approach to form. The Portland Building in Oregon, designed by Michael Graves, and the Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans, designed by Charles Moore, are examples of postmodern architecture.
Deconstructivism is an architectural style that emerged in the late 20th century, characterized by fragmented forms, non-linear shapes, and a sense of controlled chaos. It is often associated with the work of architects such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Daniel Libeskind. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Frank Gehry, and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind, are iconic examples of deconstructivist architecture.
Parametricism is a contemporary architectural style that utilizes algorithms and computational design to create complex, organic forms. This style is characterized by fluid lines, seamless transitions, and an emphasis on digital fabrication techniques. The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, are examples of parametric architecture.
In conclusion, architectural styles are a reflection of the cultural, technological, and artistic developments of their time. From the Great Pyramids of Giza to the Great Wall of China, from the Palace of Versailles to the Burj Khalifa, there’re countless great architecture with unique styles. They provide us with a glimpse into the past and an understanding of the values, aspirations, and challenges faced by the people who created them. By studying architectural styles, we can appreciate the rich tapestry of human history and the incredible ingenuity and creativity of architects throughout the ages.
In this compilation of the most renowned architectural styles in history, you are sure to find the one that aligns with your vision for your next architectural project. How about starting your project with our 3D rendering services.