History of architecture

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History of architecture
The Architect's Dream, by Thomas Cole, 1840, oil on canvas, in the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, Ohio, USA)

The history of architecture traces the changes in architecture through various traditions, regions, overarching stylistic trends, and dates. The beginnings of all these traditions is thought to be humans satisfying the very basic need of shelter and protection.[1] The term "architecture" generally refers to buildings, but in its essence is much broader, including fields we now consider specialized forms of practice, such as civil engineering, naval, military,[2] and landscape architecture.


Carved stone pillar at Göbekli Tepe (Turkey), circa 8500 BC

Architectural advances are an important part of the Neolithic period (10,000-2000 BC), during which some of the major innovations of human history occurred. The domestication of plants and animals, for example, led to both new economics and a new relationship between people and the world, an increase in community size and permanence, a massive development of material culture and new social and ritual solutions to enable people to live together in these communities. New styles of individual structures and their combination into settlements provided the buildings required for the new lifestyle and economy, and were also an essential element of change.[3]

Although many dwellings belonging to all prehistoric periods and also some clay models of dwellings have been uncovered enabling the creation of faithful reconstructions, they seldom included elements that may relate them to art. Some exceptions are provided by wall decorations and by finds that equally apply to Neolithic and Chalcolithic rites and art.

In South and Southwest Asia, Neolithic cultures appear soon after 10,000 BC, initially in the Levant (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) and from there spread eastwards and westwards. There are early Neolithic cultures in Southeast Anatolia, Syria and Iraq by 8000 BC, and food-producing societies first appear in southeast Europe by 7000 BC, and Central Europe by c. 5500 BC (of which the earliest cultural complexes include the Starčevo-Koros (Cris), Linearbandkeramic, and Vinča).[4][5][6][7]

Neolithic settlements and "cities" include:

The Neolithic people in the Levant, Anatolia, Syria, northern Mesopotamia and Central Asia were great builders, utilizing mud-brick to construct houses and villages. At Çatalhöyük, houses were plastered and painted with elaborate scenes of humans and animals. The Mediterranean Neolithic cultures of Malta worshiped in megalithic temples.

In Europe, long houses built from wattle and daub were constructed. Elaborate tombs for the dead were also built. These tombs are particularly numerous in Ireland, where there are many thousands still in existence. Neolithic people in the British Isles built long barrows and chamber tombs for their dead and causewayed camps, henges flint mines and cursus monuments.



Mesopotamia is most noted for its construction of mud-brick buildings and the construction of ziggurats, occupying a prominent place in each city and consisting of an artificial mound, often rising in huge steps, surmounted by a temple. The mound was no doubt to elevate the temple to a commanding position in what was otherwise a flat river valley. The great city of Uruk had a number of religious precincts, containing many temples larger and more ambitious than any buildings previously known.[8]

The word ziggurat is an anglicized form of the Akkadian word ziqqurratum, the name given to the solid stepped towers of mud brick. It derives from the verb zaqaru, ("to be high"). The buildings are described as being like mountains linking Earth and heaven. The Ziggurat of Ur, excavated by Leonard Woolley, is 64 by 46 meters at base and originally some 12 meters in height with three stories. It was built under Ur-Nammu (circa 2100 B.C.) and rebuilt under Nabonidus (555–539 B.C.), when it was increased in height to probably seven stories.[9]

Assyrian palaces had a large public court with a suite of apartments on the east side and a series of large banqueting halls on the south side. This was to become the traditional plan of Assyrian palaces, built and adorned for the glorification of the king.[10] Massive amounts of ivory furniture pieces were found in some palaces.

Ancient Egyptian[edit]

The well preserved Temple of Isis from Philae (Egypt), one of the best preserved temples from ancient Egypt, 380 BC-117 AD

Modern imaginings of ancient Egypt are heavily influences by the surviving traces of monumental architecture. Many formal styles and motifs were established at the dawn of the pharaonic state, around 3100 BC. The inspiration for many of these styles lay in the organic elements used in early buildings made from perishable materials. While the original structures are almost totally unknown, stylised motifs of plants continued to be replicated and adapted well into the Roman period. The endurance of forms over such a long period means that pharaonic architecture is easily recognisable today, and has been widely imitated by architects in modern times.[11]

In Ancient Egypt and other early societies, people believed in the omnipotence of gods, with many aspects of daily life carried out with respect to the idea of the divine or supernatural and the way it was manifest in the mortal cycles of generations, years, seasons, days and nights. Harvests for example were seen as the benevolence of fertility deities. Thus, the founding and ordering of the city and her most important buildings (the palace and temple) were often executed by priests or even the ruler himself and the construction was accompanied by rituals intended to enter human activity into continued divine benediction.

Ancient architecture is characterized by this tension between the divine and mortal world. Cities would mark a contained sacred space over the wilderness of nature outside, and the temple or palace continued this order by acting as a house for the gods. The architect, be he priest or king, was not the sole important figure, he was merely part of a continuing tradition.[citation needed]


The first Urban Civilization in the Indian subcontinent is traceable originally to the Indus Valley Civilisation mainly in Mohenjodaro and Harappa, now in modern-day Pakistan as well western states of the Republic of India. From then on, Indian architectural forms and civil engineering continued to develop, manifesting in temples, palaces and forts across the Indian subcontinent and neighbouring regions.

The civilization's cities were noted for their urban planning with baked brick buildings, elaborate drainage and water systems, and handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin).[12] Their urban centres possibly grew to contain between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals,[13] and the civilisation itself may have contained between one and five million individuals.[14]



Restored North Entrance with charging bull fresco of the Palace of Knossos (Crete), with some Minoan colourful columns

The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age Aegean civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands, flourishing from circa 2700 to circa 1450 BC until a late period of decline, finally ending around 1100 BC. Minoan buildings often had flat, tiled roofs; plaster, wood or flagstone floors, and stood two to three stories high. Lower walls were typically constructed of stone and rubble, and the upper walls of mudbrick. Ceiling timbers held up the roofs. The main colors used in Minoan frescos were black (carbonaceous shale), white (hydrate of lime), red (hematite), yellow (ochre), blue (silicate of copper) and green (yellow and blue mixed together). The most iconic Minoan building is the Palace of Knossos, being connected to the mythological story of The Bull of Minos, since it is in this palace where it was written that the labyrinth existed.

The Lion Gate, an iconic Mycenaean building, circa 1250 BC

A common characteristic of the Minoan architecture were flat roofs. The rooms of villas didn't have windows to the streets, the light arriving from courtyards. In the 2nd millennium BC, the villas had one or two floors, and the palaces even three. One of the most notable Minoan contributions to architecture is their inverted column, wider at the top than the base (unlike most Greek columns, which are wider at the bottom to give an impression of height). The columns were made of wood (not stone) and were generally painted red. Mounted on a simple stone base, they were topped with a pillow-like, round capital.[15][16]

Aegean art reached its peak in circa 1650-1450 BC and was at first dominated by the Minoans. However, at the height of its influence, the Minoan civilization fell and its position was quickly inherited by the Mycenaeans, a race of warriors who flourished in Greece from 1600 to 1200 BC. Although Cretan artisans may have been employed on the reworking of Mycenaean citadels, the two styles remained distinct. Mycenaean buildings were carefully planned and focused on the megaron (central unit), while the Minoans favoured complex, labyrinthine forms.[17] Mycenaean columns, like the Minoan examples, were slender and tapered sharply downwords.[18]

Classical and Hellenistic[edit]

Model of a typical Doric temple, the Temple of Aphaia from Aegina, exhibited in the Glyptothek (Munich, Germany)

The architecture and urbanism of the Greeks and Romans was very different from that of the Egyptians and Persians. Civic life gained importance for all members of the community. In the time of the ancients religious matters were only handled by the ruling class; by the time of the Greeks, religious mystery had skipped the confines of the temple-palace compounds and was the subject of the people or polis. Ancient Greek architecture was fundamentally a representation of timber post and lintel, or "trabeated" construction in stone, and most surviving buildings are temples. Rows of tall columns supported a lintel, which in turn supported a pitched roof structure running the length of the building. The triangular gable formed at either end of the pitched roof was often heavily decorated and was a key feature of the style. Today we think of Classical and Hellenist Greek architecture as being characterized by the use of plain white marble, but originally it would have been brightly painted in gaudy colors. For example, Doric order capitals were painted with geometric and egg-and-dart patterns.[20]

Illustration of Doric (left three), Ionic (middle three) and Corinthian (right two) columns

Greek civic life was sustained by new, open spaces called the agora, which were surrounded by public buildings, stores and temples. The agora embodied the newfound respect for social justice received through open debate rather than imperial mandate. Though divine wisdom still presided over human affairs, the living rituals of ancient civilizations had become inscribed in space, in the paths that wound towards the acropolis for example. Each place had its own nature, set within a world refracted through myth, thus temples were sited atop mountains all the better to touch the heavens.

Greek architecture was typically made of stone. Most surviving buildings are temples, based on strict rules of proportion. These temples typically included a peristyle (outer area with (typically Doric) columns), and three-sections in the middle, being 1. the pronaus (entrance), 2. the main cella or naos chamber (where a statue of the god or goddess and an altar was built), and 3. the opisthodomos behind the cella.[21] The most iconic element of Hellenistic architecture is of course the column. The Doric order, sober and severe, was dominant in Peloponnese and Magna Graecia (Sicily and South Italy), being named the masculine order of Hellenistic architecture. Meanwhile, the Ionic order is graceful and more ornamented, being the feminine order. Because of Ionic's proportions, it is used especially for monumental buildings. The third of the Greek orders was also the last to be developed. The earliest documented examples of the use of the Corinthian order are (internally) at the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, Bassae (429-390 BC) and (externally) at the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates (335-334 BC). Corinthian was not, like the Doric and Ionic orders, a structural system. It was purely decorative, its effect due almost wholly to its elaborate floral capital. This, according to Vitruvius, was designed by the Athenian sculptor Callimachus, and may originally have been worked in bronze. Apart from this capital, all the constituent parts were borrowed from the Ionic order. Gradually, in Hellenistic times (after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC), Corinthian did begin to develop, but it was left to the Romans to blend the elements together and make it perfect.[22]


Antefix from the Tempio di Belvedere, in National Archaeological Museum of Orvieto (Italy)

Just as Mycenaean architecture seems to have influenced the classical Greeks, so the structures raised by the Etruscans are important in the evolution of ancient Roman architecture. The Etruscans probably originated in Asia Minor and settled in west-central Italy (Etruria), between the rivers Arno and Tiber. From the late 7th century BC their power grew, and for a while Rome itself was ruled by Etruscan kings. But with the establishment of a republic in 509 BC, Etruscan civilization began to decline and its various city states were conquered. Nonetheless, the Etruscans did not cease their architectural activity, which retained its distinct character until the 1st century BC. Few buildings survived, but those that do are extremely fine, especially the tombs, which were located mainly in specific necropolis sites.[27]

The Etruscans, as we know from the writings of Vitruvius, a Roman architect and engineer of the 1st century BC, developed a style of temple building which, though inspired by Greek and Oriental examples, was quite distinctive in its own right. It conformed to specific rules, referred to as tuscanicae dispositiones by Vitruvius. Temples were usually of mud-brick and timber, though stone was used later, and seem to have been built to face south. They were placed at the centre of towns and fronted on to squares, in which altars were placed.[28] Temples were lavishly decorated with painted terracotta, which served partly to protect the wooden elements of the structure. For example, the sides of the roof bore ante-fixae (slabs used to close the end of a row of tiles), and there were statues over the pediment and within the pronaos.[29] Many of the temples were divided into three cellas (sanctuaries), the central one being the most important and sometimes the largest.[28]


The ruins of Persepolis in present-day Iran, approximately 2500 years old

The pre-Islamic styles draw on 3-4 thousand years of architectural development from various civilizations of the Iranian plateau. The Islamic architecture of Iran in turn, draws ideas from its pre-Islamic predecessor, and has geometrical and repetitive forms, as well as surfaces that are richly decorated with glazed tiles, carved stucco, patterned brickwork, floral motifs, and calligraphy. Iran is recognized by UNESCO as being one of the cradles of civilization.[30]

Each of the periods of Elamites, Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sassanids were creators of great architecture that over the ages has spread wide and far to other cultures being adopted. Although Iran has suffered its share of destruction, including Alexander The Great's decision to burn Persepolis, there are sufficient remains to form a picture of its classical architecture.

The Achaemenids built on a grand scale. The artists and materials they used were brought in from practically all territories of what was then the largest state in the world. Pasargadae set the standard: its city was laid out in an extensive park with bridges, gardens, colonnaded palaces and open column pavilions. Pasargadae along with Susa and Persepolis expressed the authority of The King of Kings, the staircases of the latter recording in relief sculpture the vast extent of the imperial frontier.

With the emergence of the Parthians and Sassanids there was an appearance of new forms. Parthian innovations fully flowered during the Sassanid period with massive barrel-vaulted chambers, solid masonry domes, and tall columns. This influence was to remain for years to come. The roundness of the city of Baghdad in the Abbasid era for example, points to its Persian precedents such as Firouzabad in Fars.[31] The two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city's design were Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a former Jew from Khorasan. The ruins of Persepolis, Ctesiphon, Jiroft,[32] Sialk, Pasargadae, Firouzabad, Arg-é Bam, and thousands of other ruins may give us merely a distant glimpse of what contribution Persians made to the art of building.


This is the traditional system of a lot of Indian architectural styles for structures such as temples, statues, homes, markets, gardens and planning as described in Hindu texts.[33][34] The architectural guidelines survive in Sanskrit manuscripts and in some cases also in other regional languages. These include the Vastu shastras, Shilpa Shastras, the Brihat Samhita, architectural portions of the Puranas and the Agamas, and regional texts such as the Manasara among others.[35][36]

Architecture and civil engineering was known as sthapatya-kala, literally "the art of constructing". The temples of Aihole and Pattadakal are well-known early examples of Hindu temple architecture, when the temple was taking on its final form. This was more or less set out in the Sulbasutras, appendices to the Vedas giving rules for constructing altars, with detailed geometrical and ritual requirements. "They contained quite an amount of geometrical knowledge, but the mathematics was being developed, not for its own sake, but purely for practical religious purposes."[37]

Hindu architectural forms survived well into the medieval period, evolving into regional forms, from its original Northern heritage, most notably deriving from the Gupta traditions.


Three types of structures are associated with the religious architecture of early Buddhism: monasteries (viharas), places to venerate relics (stupas), and shrines or prayer halls (chaityas, also called chaitya grihas), which later came to be called temples in some places.

Temple of the Tooth, Kandy

Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture after its introduction,[38] and ancient Sri Lankan architecture was mainly religious, with over 25 styles of Buddhist monasteries.[39] Monasteries were designed using the Manjusri Vasthu Vidya Sastra, which outlines the layout of the structure. The 5th century script is in Sanskrit written in Sinhala script.[39]

Rock-cut style[edit]

This style provides the earliest complete survivals of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples and it's found in greater abundance in India (over 1,500 structures) than any other form of rock-cut architecture around the world.[40] Rock-cut architecture is the practice of creating a structure by carving it out of solid natural rock. Indian rock-cut architecture is mostly religious in nature.[41][42]

These structures represent significant achievements in structural engineering.[43]

Caves that were enlarged or man-made, owing to similarities to other natural caves, were believed to be as sacred as natural ones. [44]

Kailash was the last spectacular rock-cut excavated temple.[45] Numerous rock reliefs, relief sculptures carved into rock faces, have been found outside caves or at other sites. New discoveries of relatively small rock-cut sites, mostly Buddhist, continue to be made in the 21st century, especially in the Deccan.[46]


The Maison Carrée from Nîmes (France), one of the best-preserved Roman temples, circa 2 AD. It is a mid-sized Augustan provincial temple of the Imperial cult
The frescos of the cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Illustrations which compares the column orders, in Greek and Roman versions, in History of Architecture, by Sir Banister Fletcher, from 1898

The architecture of ancient Rome has been one of the most influential in the world. Its legacy is evident throughout the medieval and early modern periods, and Roman buildings continue to be reused in the modern era in both traditionalist and Postmodern emulations. Yet Roman architecture encompasses an exceptionally diverse range of styles and historical periods. While the most important works are to be found in Italy, Roman builders also found creative outlets in the western and eastern provinces, of which the best examples preserved are in modern-day North Africa, Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

The ambition of Rome's builders was already apparent at the end of the 6th century BC in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, and the dedication of the temple in 509 BC traditionally marked the start of the Roman Republic. Raised on a high terraced platform, with walls of massive blocks of the local volcanic tuff, the temple was fronted by a portico with columns set widely apart and a roof with overhanging eaves and terracotta decoration, producing an appearance that, according to Vitruvius five centuries later, looked ungainly and old-fashioned. Yet the temple's emphasis on frontal dignity and its imposingly elevated setting not only remained a feature of Roman architecture into the later empire, but also became a substantial influence on building design in subsequent periods.

Roman architecture was particularly influenced by Greek and Etruscan styles. A range of temple types was developed during the republican years (509–27 BC), modified from Greek and Etruscan prototypes. Of these the pseudoperipterial temple form, with free-standing columns in front of the porch, but half-columns built into the walls behind, giving the illusion of a fully peripterial temple, became typical not only in the West, but also in North Africa and Levant. The full integration of columns into a continuous wall became a hallmark of later classicism, as in the Todmorden Town Hall (Yorkshire, the UK) from 1875, where the half columns wrapped around the building take the form of a Giant order, but the debt to the Roman pseudoperipterial podium temple remains evident.

Between the 4th and 1st centuries BC, Italian cities also exploited Hellenistic Greek developments in fortification architecture. The voussoir (trapped stone) arch adopted for gate structures in the formerly Greek cities of Poiseidonia (Paestum) and Velia (Elea) in southern Italy and in the northern Italian cities of Falerii and Cosa became a hallmark of the Roman city. The wall of Telesia in northern Campania epitomise the sophistication of late republican city walls, with re-entrant curving wall segments between round and polygonal towers. In these structutes, the use of rubble concrete consisting of lime mortar with a stone aggregate - varying from flint to lightweight volcanic pumice from the area of Pozzuoli - illustrated the most decisive contribution of Roman architecture in giving rise to new ideas of volume and space. Developed in utilitarian structures, such as the Porticus Aemilia in Rome (circa 100-110 AD), it facilitates the volumetric spaciousness of the barrel-vaulted hall at Ferentium, built in circa 100 BC against the hillside below the citadel and flanked by barrel-vaulted rooms in a formula that reached greater sophistication in the main of Trajan's Market in Rome (circa 100-110 AD). The use of concrete also encouraged iventiveness in monumental tomb architecture. The three-tier tomb near Capua known as La Conocchia consists of a tholos (dome-shaped tomb) perched on a reverse-curve pavilion-like form over a podium that prefigures church designs by Francesco Borromini (1599-1667).

Roman architecture was transformed by the use of Greek marble from the 2nd century BC. Temples in white marble of the Ionic and Corinthian orders challenged the old terracotta forms, and by the 1st century BC coloured marbles from Greece, Asia and North Africa embellished the stage fronts of temporary thatres and the interiors of basilicas, culminating the Basilica Aemilia in Rome (14 AD) with polychrome marbles and caryatid-like support figures. Porticoes of white marble were built to enclose public spaces. The Corinthian order, showcased in Augustus's marble temples and the Forum Augustum (2 BC), became a model for provincial centres, of which the Maison Carrée in Nîmes (present-day France) remains an exceptional example. Theatres were provided with permanent stage buildings adorned with columns of polychrome marble, which derived from Roman tradition of temporary stage buildings in the final decades of the Republic. The Theatre of Pompey (55 BC) was the first permanent theatre in Rome, and its layout influenced provincial versions. In the Roman Theatre of Orange from southern Gaul, the stage building was adorned with three tiers of columns framing statues in niches.[47]


Due to the extent of the Islamic conquests, Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of architectural styles from the foundation of Islam (7th century) to the present day. Both the religious and secular designs have influenced the design and construction of buildings and structures within and outside the sphere of Islamic culture. Islamic architecture is typically based on the idea of relating to the secular or the religious.[49][clarification needed] Some distinctive structures in Islamic architecture are mosques, madrasas, tombs, palaces, baths, and forts.[50][51][52]

The wide and long history of Islam has given rise to many local architectural styles, including but not limited to: Umayyad, Abbasid, Persian, Moorish, Fatimid, Mamluk, Ottoman, Indo-Islamic (particularly Mughal), Sino-Islamic and Sahelian architecture. Notable types of Islamic religious architecture include hypostyle mosques, domed mosques and mausoleums, structures with vaulted iwans, and madrasas built around central courtyards. In secular architecture, major examples of preserved historic palaces include the Alhambra and the Topkapi Palace. Islam does not encourage the worship of idols; therefore the architecture tends to be decorated with Arabic calligraphy (including Qur'anic verses or other poetry) and with more abstract motifs such as geometric patterns, muqarnas, and arabesques, as opposed to illustrations of scenes and stories.[50][51][53]



The Mayan temple El Castillo (Yucatán, Mexico), also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, 9th-12th centuries

Mesoamerican architecture is the set of architectural traditions produced by pre-Columbian cultures and civilizations of Mesoamerica, (such as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec) traditions which are best known in the form of public, ceremonial and urban monumental buildings and structures. The distinctive features of Mesoamerican architecture encompass a number of different regional and historical styles, which however are significantly interrelated. These styles developed throughout the different phases of Mesoamerican history as a result of the intensive cultural exchange between the different cultures of the Mesoamerican culture area through thousands of years. The Mezcala culture (700–200 BC) is known for its temple shaped sculptures, usually with an anthropomorphic person in the middle.

Mesoamerican architecture is mostly noted for its pyramids which are the largest such structures outside of Ancient Egypt. Stepped pyramids were the predominant form of monumental architecture in Pre-Columbian America. These had few rooms, as interiors mattered less that the ritual presence of these imposing structures and the public ceremonies they hosted; so, platforms, altars, processional stairs, statuary, and carving were all important.[54]


Incan architecture consists of the major construction achievements developed by the Incas. The Incas developed an extensive road system spanning most of the western length of the continent. Inca rope bridges could be considered the world's first suspension bridges. Because the Incas used no wheels (It would have been impractical for the terrain) or horses, they built their roads and bridges for foot and pack-llama traffic. Much of present-day architecture at the former Inca capital Cuzco shows both Incan and Spanish influences. The famous lost city Machu Picchu is the best surviving example of Incan architecture. Another significant site is Ollantaytambo. The Inca were sophisticated stone cutters whose masonry used no mortar.

North America[edit]

Inside what is the present-day United States, the Mississippians[55] and the Pueblo[56] created substantial public architecture. The Mississippian culture was among the mound-building peoples, noted for construction of large earthen platform mounds.

Impermanent buildings, which were often architecturally unique from region to region, continue to influence American architecture today. In his summary, "The World of Textiles", North Carolina State's Tushar Ghosh provides one example: the Denver International Airport's roof is a fabric structure that was influenced by and/or resembles the tipis of local cultures. In writing about Evergreen State College, Lloyd Vaughn lists an example of very different native architecture that also influenced contemporary building: the Native American Studies program is housed in a modern-day longhouse derived from pre-Columbian Pacific Northwest architecture.


Indian architecture encompasses a wide variety of geographically and historically spread structures, and was transformed by the history of the Indian subcontinent. The result is an evolving range of architectural production that, although it is difficult to identify a single representative style, nonetheless retains a certain amount of continuity across history. The diversity of Indian culture is represented in its architecture. It is a blend of ancient and varied native traditions, with building types, forms and technologies from West and Central Asia, as well as Europe. Architectural styles range from Hindu temple architecture to Islamic architecture to western classical architecture to modern and post-modern architecture.

East Asia[edit]


The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in southern Xi'an (Shaanxi province, China), 652 (during the Tang dynasty)
The Great Wall of China, measuring 21,196 km[57]

The structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details. Since the Tang Dynasty, Chinese architecture has had a major influence on the architectural styles of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

From the Neolithic era Longshan Culture and Bronze Age era Erlitou culture, the earliest rammed earth fortifications exist, with evidence of timber architecture. The subterranean ruins of the palace at Yinxu dates back to the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BC–1046 BC). In historic China, architectural emphasis was laid upon the horizontal axis, in particular the construction of a heavy platform and a large roof that floats over this base, with the vertical walls not as well emphasized. This contrasts Western architecture, which tends to grow in height and depth. Chinese architecture stresses the visual impact of the width of the buildings. The deviation from this standard is the tower architecture of the Chinese tradition, which began as a native tradition[citation needed] and was eventually influenced by the Buddhist building for housing religious sutras — the stupa — which came from Nepal. Ancient Chinese tomb model representations of multiple story residential towers and watchtowers date to the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD). However, the earliest extant Buddhist Chinese pagoda is the Songyue Pagoda, a 40 m (131 ft) tall circular-based brick tower built in Henan province in the year 523 AD. From the 6th century onwards, stone-based structures become more common, while the earliest are from stone and brick arches found in Han Dynasty tombs. The Zhaozhou Bridge built from 595 to 605 AD is China's oldest extant stone bridge, as well as the world's oldest fully stone open-spandrel segmental arch bridge.

Inside the Forbidden City, an example of Chinese architecture from the 15th century

The vocational trade of architect, craftsman, and engineer was not as highly respected in premodern Chinese society as the scholar-bureaucrats who were drafted into the government by the civil service examination system. Much of the knowledge about early Chinese architecture was passed on from one tradesman to his son or associative apprentice. However, there were several early treatises on architecture in China, with encyclopedic information on architecture dating back to the Han Dynasty. The height of the classical Chinese architectural tradition in writing and illustration can be found in the Yingzao Fashi, a building manual written by 1100 and published by Li Jie (1065–1110) in 1103. In it there are numerous and meticulous illustrations and diagrams showing the assembly of halls and building components, as well as classifying structure types and building components.

There were certain architectural features that were reserved solely for buildings built for the Emperor of China. One example is the use of yellow roof tiles; yellow having been the Imperial color, yellow roof tiles still adorn most of the buildings within the Forbidden City. The Temple of Heaven, however, uses blue roof tiles to symbolize the sky. The roofs are almost invariably supported by brackets, a feature shared only with the largest of religious buildings. The wooden columns of the buildings, as well as the surface of the walls, tend to be red in colour.

Many current Chinese architectural designs follow post-modern and western styles.


Byōdō-in (Temple of Equality) (Uji, Kyoto Prefecture), 1053

Japanese architecture has as long a history as any other aspect of Japanese culture. It also shows a number of important differences and aspects which are uniquely Japanese.

Two new forms of architecture were developed in medieval Japan in response to the militaristic climate of the times: the castle (城, shiro), a defensive structure built to house a feudal lord and his soldiers in times of trouble; and the shoin, a reception hall and private study area designed to reflect the relationships of lord and vassal within a feudal society.

Because of the need to rebuild Japan after World War II, major Japanese cities contain numerous examples of modern architecture. Japan played some role in modern skyscraper design, because of its long familiarity with the cantilever principle to support the weight of heavy tiled temple roofs. New city planning ideas based on the principle of layering or cocooning around an inner space (oku), a Japanese spatial concept that was adapted to urban needs, were adapted during reconstruction.


Donggwoldo, a landscape of the once extensive grounds of the Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung Palaces

The basic construction form is more or less similar to Eastern Asian building system. From a technical point of view, buildings are structured vertically and horizontally. A construction usually rises from a stone subfoundation to a curved roof covered with tiles, held by a console structure and supported on posts; walls are made of earth (adobe) or are sometimes totally composed of movable wooden doors. Architecture is built according to the k'an unit, the distance between two posts (about 3.7 meters), and is designed so that there is always a transitional space between the "inside" and the "outside."

The console, or bracket structure, is a specific architectonic element that has been designed in various ways through time. If the simple bracket system was already in use under the Goguryeo kingdom (37 BCE–668 CE)—in palaces in Pyongyang, for instance—a curved version, with brackets placed only on the column heads of the building, was elaborated during the early Koryo dynasty (918–1392). The Amita Hall of the Pusok temple in Antong is a good example. Later on (from the mid-Koryo period to the early Choson dynasty), a multiple-bracket system, or an inter-columnar-bracket set system, was developed under the influence of Mongol's Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). In this system, the consoles were also placed on the transverse horizontal beams. Seoul's Namtaemun Gate Namdaemun, Korea's foremost national treasure, is perhaps the most symbolic example of this type of structure.

In the mid-Choson period, the winglike bracket form appeared (one example is the Yongnyongjon Hall of Jongmyo, Seoul), which is interpreted by many scholars as an example of heavy Confucian influence in Joseon Korea, which emphasized simplicity and modesty in such shrine buildings. Only in buildings of importance like palaces or sometimes temples (Tongdosa, for instance) were the multicluster brackets still used. Confucianism also led to more sober and simple solutions.

South-east Asian[edit]

The Angkor Wat temple, the highest achievement of Khmer architecture

The main evidence of Khmer architecture and ultimately for Khmer civilization, however, remains the religious buildings, considerable in number and extremely varied in size. They were destined for immortal gods and as they were built of durable materials of brick, laterite and sandstone, many have survived to the present day. They were usually surrounded by enclosures to protect them from evil powers but confusion has often arisen as to which is a temple enclosure and which is that of the town of which the temple was a part. [58]

Angkor Wat temple is a great example of Khmer architectural masterpiece, was built by king Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Despite the fact that it is over 800 years old, it has still maintained its top rank to be the world's largest religious structure.

The architecture of Indonesia reflects both the cultural diversity of the region and its rich historical inheritance. The geographic position of Indonesia means a transition between the culture of Asian Hindu-Buddhism architecture and animistic architecture of Oceania. Indonesian wide range of vernacular styles is the legacy of an Austronesian architectural tradition characterized by wooden pile dwellings, high pitched roofs and extended roof ridges. The temples of Java, on the other hand, share an Indian Hindu-Buddhist ancestry, typical of Southeast Asia; though indigenous influences have led to the creation of a distinctly Indonesian style of monumental architecture.

Gradual spread of Islam through the region from the 12th century onwards creates an Islamic architecture which betray a mixture of local and exotic elements. Arrival of the European merchant, especially the Dutch, shows incorporation of many Indonesian features into the architecture of the native Netherlands to produce an eclectic synthesis of Eastern and Western forms apparent in the early 18th-century Indies Style and modern New Indies Style. The years that followed independence saw the adoption of Modernist agenda on the part of Indonesian architects apparent in the architecture of the 1970s and 1980s.


Large, monolithic churches such as the Church of Saint George (Lalibela), were hewn out of the ground in Ethiopia
The Great Mosque of Djenné, an icon for the Sudano-Sahelian architecture, completed in 1907, adobe, in Djenné (Mali)

Ethiopian architecture (including modern-day Eritrea) expanded from the Aksumite style and incorporated new traditions with the expansion of the Ethiopian state. Styles incorporated more wood and rounder structures in domestic architecture in the center of the country and the south, and these stylistic influences were manifested in the construction of churches and monasteries. Throughout the medieval period, Aksumite architecture and influences and its monolithic tradition persisted, with its influence strongest in the early medieval (Late Aksumite) and Zagwe periods (when the rock-cut monolithic churches of Lalibela were carved). Throughout the medieval period, and especially from the 10th to 12th centuries, churches were hewn out of rock throughout Ethiopia, especially during the northernmost region of Tigray, which was the heart of the Aksumite Empire. However, rock-hewn churches have been found as far south as Adadi Maryam (15th century), about 100 km south of Addis Abeba. The most famous example of Ethiopian rock-hewn architecture are the eleven monolithic churches of Lalibela, carved out of the red volcanic tuff found around the town. Though later medieval hagiographies attribute all eleven structures to the eponymous King Lalibela (the town was called Roha and Adefa before his reign), new evidence indicates that they may have been built separately over a period of a few centuries, with only a few of the more recent churches having been built under his reign. Archaeologist and Ethiopisant David Phillipson postulates, for instance, that Bete Gebriel-Rufa'el was actually built in the very early medieval period, some time between 600 and 800 A.D., originally as a fortress but was later turned into a church.[59]

During the early modern period, the absorption of new diverse influences such as Baroque, Arab, Turkish and Gujarati Indian style began with the arrival of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. Portuguese soldiers had initially come in the mid-16th century as allies to aid Ethiopia in its fight against Adal, and later Jesuits came hoping to convert the country. Some Turkish influence may have entered the country during the late 16th century during its war with the Ottoman Empire (see Habesh), which resulted in an increased building of fortresses and castles. Ethiopia, naturally easily defensible because of its numerous ambas or flat-topped mountains and rugged terrain, yielded little tactical use from the structures in contrast to their advantages in the flat terrain of Europe and other areas, and so had until this point little developed the tradition. Castles were built especially beginning with the reign of Sarsa Dengel around the Lake Tana region, and subsequent Emperors maintained the tradition, eventually resulting in the creation of the Fasil Ghebbi (royal enclosure of castles) in the newly founded capital (1635), Gondar. Emperor Susenyos (r.1606-1632) converted to Catholicism in 1622 and attempted to make it the state religion, declaring it as such from 1624 until his abdication; during this time, he employed Arab, Gujarati (brought by the Jesuits), and Jesuit masons and their styles, as well as local masons, some of whom were Beta Israel. With the reign of his son Fasilides, most of these foreigners were expelled, although some of their architectural styles were absorbed into the prevailing Ethiopian architectural style. This style of the Gondarine dynasty would persist throughout the 17th and 18th centuries especially and also influenced modern 19th-century and later styles.

The conical tower inside the Great Enclosure in Great Zimbabwe, a medieval city built by a prosperous culture.

Great Zimbabwe is the largest medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa. By the late nineteenth century, most buildings reflected the fashionable European eclecticism and pastisched Mediterranean, or even Northern European, styles.

In the Western Sahel region, Islamic influence was a major contributing factor to architectural development from the later ages of the Kingdom of Ghana. At Kumbi Saleh, locals lived in domed-shaped dwellings in the king's section of the city, surrounded by a great enclosure. Traders lived in stone houses in a section which possessed 12 beautiful mosques, as described by al-bakri, with one centered on Friday prayer.[60] The king is said to have owned several mansions, one of which was sixty-six feet long, forty-two feet wide, contained seven rooms, was two stories high, and had a staircase; with the walls and chambers filled with sculpture and painting.[61]

Sahelian architecture initially grew from the two cities of Djenné and Timbuktu. The Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, constructed from mud on timber, was similar in style to the Great Mosque of Djenné. The rise of kingdoms in the West African coastal region produced architecture which drew on indigenous traditions, utilizing wood. The famed Benin City, destroyed by the Punitive Expedition, was a large complex of homes in coursed clay, with hipped roofs of shingles or palm leaves. The Palace had a sequence of ceremonial rooms, and was decorated with brass plaques.

A common type of houses in Sub-Saharian Africa were the beehive houses, made from a circle of stones topped with a domed roof. The ancient Bantu used this type of house, which was made with mud, poles, and cow dung.


Ruins of Nan Madol on the Pohnpei island

Most Oceanic buildings consist of huts, made of wood and other vegetal materials. Art and architecture have often been closely connected—for example, storehouses and meetinghouses are often decorated with elaborate carvings—and so they are presented together in this discussion. The architecture of the Pacific Islands was varied and sometimes large in scale. Buildings reflected the structure and preoccupations of the societies that constructed them, with considerable symbolic detail. Technically, most buildings in Oceania were no more than simple assemblages of poles held together with cane lashings; only in the Caroline Islands were complex methods of joining and pegging known.

An important Oceanic archaeological site is Nan Madol from the Federated States of Micronesia. Nan Madol was the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur Dynasty, which united Pohnpei's estimated 25,000 people until about 1628.[62] Set apart between the main island of Pohnpei and Temwen Island, it was a scene of human activity as early as the first or second century AD. By the 8th or 9th century, islet construction had started, with construction of the distinctive megalithic architecture beginning 1180–1200 AD.[63]


Surviving examples of medieval secular architecture mainly served for defense. Castles and fortified walls provide the most notable remaining non-religious examples of medieval architecture. Windows gained a cross-shape for more than decorative purposes: they provided a perfect fit for a crossbowman to safely shoot at invaders from inside. Crenellation walls (battlements) provided shelters for archers on the roofs to hide behind when not shooting.


Examples of Byzantine capitals
Corinthian with a cross on its abacus
Basket capital
Basket capital with Ionic volutes
Ionic with a cross on its abacus

The Byzantine Empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to Byzantium (later renamed Constantinople and now called Istanbul). The empire endured for more than a millennium, dramatically influencing Medieval and Renaissance-era architecture in Europe and, following the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, leading directly to the architecture of the Ottoman Empire.

Early Byzantine architecture was built as a continuation of Roman architecture. Stylistic drift, technological advancement, and political and territorial changes meant that a distinct style gradually emerged, which imbued certain influences from the Near East and used the Greek cross plan in church architecture. Buildings increased in geometric complexity, brick and plaster were used in addition to stone in the decoration of important public structures, classical orders were used more freely, mosaics replaced carved decoration, complex domes rested upon massive piers, and windows filtered light through thin sheets of alabaster to softly illuminate interiors. This Byzantine style, with increasingly exotic domes and ever-richer mosaics, traveled west to Ravenna and Venice and as far north as Moscow. Most of the churches and basilicas have high-riding domes. As result, they created vast open spaces at the centres of churches, heightening the sense of grace and light. The round arch is a fundamental of Byzantine style. Magnificent golden mosaics with their graphic simplicity and immense power brought light and warmth into the heart of churches. Byzantine capitals break away from the Classical conventions of ancient Greece and Rome. Sinuous lines and naturalistic forms are precursors to the Gothic style.

According to descriptions, interiors were plated with marble or stone. Some of the columns were also made of marble. Other widely used materials were bricks and stone, not just marble like in Classical antiquity.[64] Mural paintings or mosaics made of shiny little stones were also elements of interior architecture. Precious wood furniture like beds, chairs, stools, tables, bookshelves and silver or golden cups with beautiful reliefs, decorated Byzantine interiors.[65]


Interior of the Durham Cathedral (Durham, UK), 1093-1133

The term 'Romanesque' is rooted in the 19th century, when it was coined to describe medieval churches built from the 10th to 12th century, before the rise of steeply pointed arches, flying buttresses and other Gothic elements. For 19th-century critics, the Romanesque reflected the architecture of stonemasons who evidently admired the heavy barrel vaults and intricate carved capitals of the ancient Romans, but whose own architecture was considered derivative and degenerate, lacking the sophistication of their classical models.

Scholars in the 21st century are less inclined to understand the architecture of this period as a 'failure' to reproduce the achievements of the past, and are far more likely to recognise its profusion of experimental forms, as a series of creative new inventions. At the time, however, research has questioned the value of Romanesque as a stylistic term. On the surface, it provides a convenient designation for buildings that share a common vocabulary of rounded arches and thick stone masonry, and appear in between the Carolingian revival of classical antiquity in the 9th century and the swift evolution of Gothic architecture after the second half of the 12th century. One problem, however, is that the term encompasses a broad array of regional variations, some with closer links to Rome than others. It should also be noted that the distinction between Romanesque architecture and its immediate predecessors and followers is not at all clear. There is little evidence that medieval viewers were concerned with the stylistic distinctions that we observe today, making the slow evolution of medieval architecture difficult to separate into neat chronological categories. Nevertheless, Romanesque remains a useful word despite its limitations, because it reflects a period of intensive building activity that maintained some continuity with the classical past, but freely reinterpreted ancient forms in a new distinctive manner.[3]


The back of the Canterbury Cathedral from Canterbury (Kent, UK), by William of Sens, circa 1174-1184

Gothic architecture began with a series of experiments, which were conducted to fulfil specific requests by patrons and to accommodate the ever-growing number of pilgrims visiting sites that housed precious relics. Pilgrims in the high Middle Ages (circa 1000 to 1250 AD) increasingly travelled to well-known pilgrimage sites, but also to local sites where local and national saints were reputed to have performed miracles. The churches and monasteries housing important relics therefore wanted to heighten the popularity of their respective saints and build appropriate shrines for them. These shrines were not merely gem-encrusted reliquaries, but more importantly took the form of powerful architectural settings characterised by coloured light emitting from the large areas of stained glass. The use of stained glass, however, is not the only defining element of Gothic architecture and neither are the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, the rose window or the flying buttress, as many of these elements were used in one way or another in preceding architectural traditions. It was rather the combination and constant refinement of these elements, along with the quick response to the rapidly changing building techniques of the time, that fuelled the Gothic movement in architecture.

Consequently, it is difficult to point to one element or the exact place where Gothic first emerged; however, it is traditional to initiate a discussion of Gothic architecture with the Basilica of St Denis (circa 1135–1344) and its patrons, Abbot Suger, who began to rebuild the west front and the choir of the church. As he wrote in his De Administratione, the old building could no longer accommodate the large volumes of pilgrims who were coming to venerate the relics of St Denis, and the solution for this twofold: a west façade with three large portals and the innovative new choir, which combined an ambulatory with radiating chapels that were unique as they were not separated by walls. Instead a row of slim columns was inserted between the chapels and the choir arcade to support the rib vaults. The result enabled visitors to circulate around the altar and come within reach of the relics without actually disrupting the altar space, while also experiencing the large stained-glass windows within the chapels. As confirmed by Suger, the desire for more stained-glass was not necessarily to bring more daylight into the building but rather to fill the space with a continuous ray of colorful light, rather like mosaics or precious stones, which would make the wall vanish. The demand for ever more stained-glass windows and the search for techniques that would support them are constant throughout the development of Gothic architecture, as is evident in the writings of Suger, who was fascinated by the mystical quality of such lighting.[3]


Saint Basil's Cathedral from the Red Square (Moscow), 1482–1495

The architectural history of Russia is conditioned by Orthodox Eastern Europe: unlike the West, yet similarly, if tenuously, linked with the traditions of classical antiquity (through Byzantium). It has experienced from time to time westernising movements that culminated in the comprehensive reforms of Peter the Great (around 1700). From prehistoric times the material of vernacular Russian architecture was wood. Byzantine churches and the architecture of Kievan Rus were characterized by broader, flatter domes without a special framework erected above the drum. In contrast to this ancient form, each drum of a Russian church is surmounted by a special structure of metal or timber, which is lined with sheet iron or tiles. Some characteristics taken from the Slavic pagan temples are the exterior galleries and the plurality of towers.

The Saint Basil's Cathedral is one of Russia's most distinctive sights. Built by Tsar Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the Terrible) to commemorate his defeat of the Mongols at the battle Kazan in 1552, it stands just outside the Kremlin in the Red Square, in the heart of Moscow. Its extraordinary onion-shaped domes, painted in bright colours, create a memorable skyline, making St. Basil's Cathedral a symbol both of Moscow and Russia as a whole.[66] Each of the domes has its own dazzling form of decoration, ranging from prisms and spirals to chevrons and stripes, all emphasised with brilliant colours. Their colours are unusual, most of the Russian domes being either plain or gilded. Originally, the domes of St. Basil's Cathedral had a gold finish, with some blue and green ceramic decoration. The bright, painted colours were added at various times from the 17th to the 19th century.[67]


The brâncovenesc [brɨŋkovenesk] style is a style in medieval Romanian art and architecture, more specifically in Wallachia during the reign of Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714). Brâncovenesc buildings are characterised by the use of gazebo-like porticos (mainly the entrances of churches), trilobate or kokoshnik arches, columns (usually Corinthian) with twisted flutings, and ceramic or metallic tile roof. The main ornament used for decoration are the interlace and the rinceau. Some of the features of Brâncovenesc architecture derive from Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, and a some can also be found in medieval Russian architecture.

Churches usually have minimalistic façades with reliefs, most churches being white, while some have elaborate paintings on the façades (like the Stavropoleos Monastery from Bucharest), or brickwork (like the Kretzulescu Church from Bucharest). The walls of their interiors are filled with Byzantine style frescos. Above their main door there is a pisanie, which is an inscribed stone plaque. The inscription usually includes a religious invocation, the name of the founder or founders, the date of construction, the motivation of the building, the circumstances of the time and other data.


Tamil style temples are characterized by Yali pillars

This is a temple style emerged in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent and in Sri Lanka. These types of Hindu temples reached their final form by the sixteenth century. The unique style used here involves a shorter and more pyramidal tower over the garbhagriha or sanctuary called a vimana, where the north has taller towers, usually bending inwards as they rise, called shikharas.

The majority of the existing structures are located in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Dravidian architecture takes on distinctive styles through its regional evolution and can be sub-divided:

The Architecture of Tamil Nadu is a form of Dravidian architecture that is influenced by the Sangam period as well as the styles of the great dynasties that ruled it. This includes Pallava architecture, Pandyan architecture, Cholan architecture, and more.

The characteristic regional expression of Kerala architecture results from the geographical, climatic and historic factors. History also played its own contributions to the Kerala architecture. While the towering Western Ghats isolated Kerala to a greater extent from South Indian empires, the exposure of Arabian sea on its east brought in close contacts between the ancient people of Kerala with major maritime civilizations like Egyptians, Romans, Arabs etc. The Kerala's rich spice cultivations brought it center of global maritime trade until modern periods, helping several international powers to actively engage with Kerala as a trading partners. This helped in bring in influences of these civilisations into Kerala architecture.[70]

Karnata Dravida
The Architecture of Karnataka involves a Dravidian architectural style that varies a lot from its counterparts in Tamilakam and Andhra Pradesh. The Karnata Dravida style has had an impact on the Deccan as well as Southern India. Over the centuries, architectural monuments within the region displayed a diversity of influences, often relaying much about the artistic trends of the rulers of twelve different dynasties.[71] There is great variety in the details and decoration of regional and period styles, for example in Kadamba architecture, Badami Chalukya architecture, Hoysala architecture, Vijayanagara architecture and Western Chalukya architecture.

Typical architectural styles seen in Karnataka are shown below.


Simplified schema of a Kalinga architecture temple

The Kalinga/Odia is an architectural style which flourished in the ancient and medieval Kalinga in Odisha. The style consists of three distinct types of temples: Rekha Deula, Pidha Deula and Khakhara Deula. The former two are associated with Vishnu, Surya and Shiva temples while the third is mainly with Chamunda and Durga temples.

Maru Gurjara[edit]

Also known as the Chaulukya style or Solaṅkī style,[73] which is a style of north Indian temple architecture that originated in Gujarat and Rajasthan from the 11th to 13th centuries, under the Chaulukya dynasty (Solaṅkī).[74] It eventually became popular in Jain temples and, and under their patronage, later spread across the greater region and the world.[75]

Compared to other North Indian styles, what makes it unique is "that the external walls of the temples have been structured by increasing numbers of projections and recesses, accommodating sharply carved statues in niches. These are normally positioned in superimposed registers, above the lower bands of moldings. The latter display continuous lines of horse riders, elephants, and kīrttimukhas. Hardly any segment of the surface is left unadorned." The main shikhara tower usually has many urushringa subsidiary spirelets on it, and two smaller side-entrances with porches are common in larger temples.[76]

Mandapa ceiling in the Ranakpur Jain Temple

The style also involves large pillared halls, with many of them open at the sides.[77]

By the 13th century, it mostly fell from use as a Hindu temple style but was used by Jains with a notable "revival" in the 15th century.[78]


The rule of the Delhi Sultanate, Deccan Sultanates and Mughal Empire led to the development of Indo-Islamic architecture which commenced with the establishment of Delhi as the capital of the Ghurid dynasty in 1193.[79] The dynasties that ruled the Gangetic plains, being mostly of Central Asian origin brought Persianate architecture and art styles from Western Eurasia into the Indian subcontinent.[80]

In contrast to most of the Islamic world dominated by brick Indian regions mostly had produced stone masonry finished structures of high quality.[81] Various regional Islamic styles developed beyond Delhi.


Being at the crossroads of Northern India, Arabian Sea, Dravidian heartland, as well as the Kalingan zone, Deccan architecture has had multiple influences. The Karnata Dravida style, Hemadpanti architecture, Indo-Islamic architecture with its Deccan variant, and other styles have all influenced Deccan architecture.


Ruins of the central Buddhist stupa of the Grand Vihara of Somapura in modern Bangladesh, a Pala royal project of around 800.

Bengali architecture, which comprises the modern country of Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley, has a long and rich history, with influences from different parts of the world. The corner towers of Bengali religious buildings were replicated in medieval Southeast Asia. Bengali curved roofs, suitable for the very heavy rains, were adopted into a distinct local style of Indo-Islamic architecture, and used decoratively elsewhere in north India in Mughal architecture. Since Bengal is not rich in good stone for building, and traditional Bengali architecture mostly uses brick and wood, often reflecting the styles of the wood, bamboo and thatch styles of local vernacular architecture for houses.


This is a style of Hindu temple architecture in Assam, that is characterized by a bulbous polygonal dome over a cruciform ratha type bada.[82] This hybrid style developed first in the Kamakhya temple on the Nilachal hills under the Koch kingdom and became popular as a style later under the Ahom kingdom.[83]


The Himalayas are inhabited by various people groups including the Paharis, Sino-Tibetans, Kashmiris, and many more. Being from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, the architecture has also had multiple influences.


The ancient Meitei temple of Lord Pakhangba restored in 2007 inside the Kangla Palace, Manipur

This is also known as Manipuri architecture which is produced by the Meitei speaking people. This style is best known for its temples (Laishang, Kiyong, Thellon), found scattered in the Kangleipak (present day Manipur). Other architectural forms that are still in existence are the grand gates (Hojang), Traditional houses (Yumjao), Public houses (Sanglen), Official buildings (Loishang), etc.[84][85]


Various Renaissance ornaments and architectural elements, in Toulouse (France)
Interior from the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, by Filippo Brunelleschi, 1421-1440

The passage from Gothic to the Renaissance entailed an adoption of forms and aesthetic principles that were copied from - and, to some extent, aspired to revive - Roman antiquity. The more recent Romanesque and Gothic of Tuscany (present-day Italy) had a part to play, too. These turned out to be not a regression, but transitions from medieval to proto-modern. Broader developments in the structure and culture of Florentine society had made it sympathetic towards a brief sequence of architectural projects in Florence in the early 1420s. Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), while working on the Gothic dome of the Florence Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore (1296-1436), introduced the Renaissance style in two smaller works, both within a few hundred meters of the cathedral, and both begun in about 1421: the Hospital of the Innocents and the Basilica of Saint Lawrence.

The Hospital of the Innocents was the first orphanage in Europe, commissioned by a silk guild at a time when charity was becoming common practice in secular society, even though the material wealth of Florence had begun to decrease. Brunelleschi was perhaps more conscious of introducing a new style that had been Suger, the so-called inventor of Gothic, three centuries earlier. Yet, in both cases, all the components existed already. The real innovation lay in the arrangements and combinations of these elements to create a new overall effect. The hospital's façade was symmetrical with nine bays. Rhythm was established by the columns, emphasised by the pedimented widows (which correspond to the bays), and punctuated by the tondi (roundels). These were blank until the late 15th century, when Luca della Robbia populated them with swaddled babies in terracotta. The most prominent feature is the colonnade with its semicircular arches. These were of ancient Roman origin, as were the Corinthian columns and the proportionately correct architrave. Yet the Romans would not have rested such wide arches on such slender columns, normally used for interiors. This ancient form appeared in Brunelleschi's time and the architect incorporated it in a colonnade facing the street. The result was a bright loggia expressive of Renaissance desire for a public life with a clarity of purpose.

The Basilica of Saint Lawrence was originally devoid of ornament. The fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals, and the originally empty roundels inscribed in the pendentives were conceived not as decorative embellishments, but as architectural references. Brunelleschi complained about subsequent interventions in the Sacristy, by Donatello (circa 1386–1466) and others, and with good reason in some cases: the small roundels along the frieze weakened the effect of pietra serena (Italian sandstone) set off by the off-white colour of the walls. As much as Brunelleschi's mental image of pure architecture may appeal to modern sensibilities, it did not necessarily correspond to ancient realities; he conjured it from the sight of ruins during his trip to Rome in 1402, where frescoes had worn off, interiors had been sacked, and the paint or gilt on façades had been removed or placed with overgrown vegetation.

In the last decades of the 15th century, artists and architects began to visit Rome to study the ruins in earnest. They left behind precious records of their studies in the form of drawings. While humanist interest in Rome had been building up over more than a century (dating back at least to Petrarch in the 14th century), antiquarian considerations of monuments had focused on literary, epigraphic and historical information rather than on the physical remains. Although some artists and architects, such as Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), Donatello (circa 1386–1466) and Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), are reported to have made studies of Roman sculpture and ruins, almost no direct evidence of this work survives. By the 1480s, prominent architects, such as Francesco di Giorgio (1439-1502) and Giuliano da Sabgallo (circa 1445–1516), were making numerous studies of ancient monuments, undertaken in ways that demonstrated that the process of transforming the model into a new design had already begun. In many cases, drawing ruins in their fragmentary state necessitated a leap of imagination, as Francesco himself readily admitted in his annotation to his reconstruction of the Campidoglio, noting 'largely imagined by me, since very little can be understood from the ruins'.

This intensive study bore immediate fruit, inspiring a series of increasingly bold attempts to match the scale, ambition and sheer achievement of the ancient works. The most dramatic demonstration of this new attitude towards the antique - which aimed not just for imitation and emulation but for rivalry - occurred in the work of Donato Bramante (circa 1444–1514), an architect who first trained as a painter in Milan.[86]



Examples or Baroque domes: St. Peter's Basilica (Rome), Karlskirche (Vienna, Austria), Les Invalides (Paris), and Santa Maria della Salute (Venice)

The Baroque and its late variant the Rococo were the first truly global styles in the arts. Dominating more than two centuries of art and architecture in Europe, Latin America and beyond from circa 1580 to circa 1800, they were the first to focus so intensely on their impact on the viewer, and they owed much of their popularity and global scope to this visual allure. Born in the painting studios of Bologna and Rome in the 1580s and 1590s, and in Roman sculptural and architectural ateliers in the second and third decades of the 17th century, the Baroque spread swiftly throughout Italy, Spain and Portugal, Flanders, France, the Netherlands, England, Scandinavia, and Russia, as well as to central and eastern European centres from Munich (Germany) to Vilnius (Lithuania).[87]

Baroque architecture originated in 17th century Rome, where it developed as an expression on the newly triumphant Catholic Church. The Counter-Reformation stated that architecture, painting and sculpture would play an important role in transforming Rome into a truly Catholic city. The streets radiating from St. Peters Cathedral were soon dotted with reminders of the victorious faith. Breaking with the somewhat static intellectual formulas of the Renaissance, Baroque architecture was first and foremost an art of persuasion.[88] The periods of Mannerism and the Baroque that followed it signalled an increasing anxiety over meaning and representation. Important developments in science and philosophy had separated mathematical representations of reality from the rest of culture, fundamentally changing the way humans related to their world through architecture.[citation needed] It would reach its most extreme and embellished development under the decorative tastes of Rococo.

Baroque architects took the basic elements of Renaissance architecture, including domes and colonnades, and made them higher, grander, more decorated, and more dramatic. The interior effects were often achieved with the use of quadratura, or trompe-l'œil painting combined with sculpture: the eye is drawn upward, giving the illusion that one is looking into the heavens. Clusters of sculpted angels and painted figures crowd the ceiling. Light was also used for dramatic effect; it streamed down from cupolas and was reflected from an abundance of gilding. Solomonic columns were often used, to give an illusion of upwards motion and other decorative elements occupied every available space. In Baroque palaces, grand stairways became a central element.[89]

Rococo and Rocaille[edit]

Boiserie from the Hôtel de Varengeville (Paris), circa 1736–1752, carved, painted, and gilded oak, height: 5.58 m, width: 7.07 m, length: 12.36 m, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

The Rococo style was essentially a decorative movement that originated in France in about 1700, in the town houses and hôtels particuliers of the Parisian nobility, principally as an interior style. Although the style originated in the rich decoration at the Palace of Versailles, it was also a reaction to the formality of the royal palace. Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, Gilles-Marie Oppenordt, Nicolas Pineau and Germain Boffrand were among the designers who succeeded in reflecting the more intimate scale and comfortable arrangement of rooms by decorating them with light, frivolous and colourful schemes in which panels and door-frames dissolved and walls merged with the ceiling. The repertoire of motifs, including Rocaille arabesques and chinoiseries, was infinitely varied. Characteristic of the style were Rocaille motifs derived from the shells, icicles and rockwork or grotto decoration. Rocaille arabesques were mostly abstract forms, laid out symmetrically over and around architectural frames. A favourite motif was the scallop shell, whose top scrolls echoed the basic S and C framework scrolls of the arabesques and whose sinuous ridges echoed the general curvilinearity of the room decoration. While few Rococo exteriors were built in France, a number of Rococo churches are found in southern Germany.[90] Other widely-user motifs in decorative arts and interior architecture include: acanthus and other leaves, birds, bouquets of flowers, fruits, elements associated with love (putti, quivers with arrows ans arrowed hearts) trophies of arms, medallions with faces, many many flori, and Far Eastern elements (pagodes, dragons, monkeys, bizarre flowers, bamboo, and Chinese men and women).[91] Rococo designers also loved mirrors (the more the better), an example being the Hall of Mirrors of the Amalienburg (Munich, Germany), by Johann Baptist Zimmermann. Generally, mirrors are also featured above fireplaces. Domestic Rococo abandoned Baroque's high moral tone, its weighty allegories and its obsession with legitimacy: in fact, its abstract forms and carefree, pastoral subjects related more to notions of refuge and joy that created a more forgiving atmosphere for polite conversations. Rococo rooms are typically smaller than their Baroque counterparts, reflecting a movement towards domestic intimacy. Even the grander salons used for entertaining were more modest in scale, as social events involved smaller numbers of guests. Rather than serving as repetitive chains grand enfilades, Rococo rooms were frequently arranged in clusters and took on increasingly specific shapes and appearances according to function.

The style features exuberant decoration, with an abundance of curves, counter-curves, undulations and elements modeled on nature. The exteriors of Rococo buildings are often simple, while the interiors are entirely dominated by their ornament. The style was highly theatrical, designed to impress and awe at first sight. Floor plans of churches were often complex, featuring interlocking ovals; In palaces, grand stairways became centrepieces, and offered different points of view of the decoration.[92] The style often integrated painting, molded stucco and wood carving, and quadratura, or illusionist ceiling paintings, which were designed to give the impression that those entering the room were looking up at the sky, where putti and other figures were gazing down at them. Materials used included stucco, either painted or left white; combinations of different colored woods; lacquered wood in the Japanese style, and ornament of gilded bronze. The intent was to create an impression of surprise, awe and wonder on first view.[93]

Return to Classicism: Neoclassicism[edit]

Pictures with the interiors of the Romanian Athenaeum (Bucharest, Romania), 26 October 1886-14 February 1888, by Paul Louis Albert Galeron

In the late 17th and 18th centuries, the works and theories of Andrea Palladio (from 16th-century Venice) would again be interpreted and adopted in England, spread by the English translation of his I quattro libri dell'architettura, and pattern books such as Vitruvius Brittanicus by Colen Campbell. This Palladian architecture and continued classical imagery would in turn go on to influence Thomas Jefferson and other early architects of the United States in their search for a new national architecture.

By the mid-18th century, there tended to be more restrained decoration and usage of authentic classical forms than in the Baroque, informed by increased visitation to classical ruins as part of the Grand Tour, coupled with the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the mid-18th century, antiquity was upheld as a standard for architecture as never before. Neoclassicism was a fundamental investigation of the very bases of architectural form and meaning. In the 1750s, an alliance between archaeological exploration and architectural theory started, which will continue in the 19th century.[94]

The shift to Neoclassical architecture is conventionally dated to the 1750s. It first gained influence in England and France; in England, Sir William Hamilton's excavations at Pompeii and other sites, the influence of the Grand Tour and the work of William Chambers and Robert Adam, was pivotal in this regard. In France, the movement was propelled by a generation of French art students trained in Rome, and was influenced by the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann.

The style was also adopted by progressive circles in other countries such as Sweden and Russia. Federal-style architecture is the name for the classicizing architecture built in North America between c. 1780 and 1830, and particularly from 1785 to 1815. This style shares its name with its era, the Federal Period. The term is also used in association with furniture design in the United States of the same time period. The style broadly corresponds to the middle-class classicism of Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Regency style in Britain and to the French Empire style. In Central and Eastern Europe, the style is usually referred to as Classicism (German: Klassizismus, Russian: Классицизм), while the newer Revival styles of the 19th century until today are called neoclassical.

Revivalism and Orientalism[edit]

The 19th century was dominated by a wide variety of stylistic revivals, variations, and interpretations. Revivalism in architecture is the use of visual styles that consciously echo the style of a previous architectural era. Modern-day Revival styles can be summarized within New Classical architecture, and sometimes under the umbrella term traditional architecture.

In art and architecture history, the term Orientalism refers to the works of the Western artists who specialized in Oriental subjects, produced from their travels in Western Asia, during the 19th century. In that time, artists and scholars were described as Orientalists, especially in France. Some of the most popular revivalist styles are neo-Byzantine (mainly in Orthodox countries like Romania, Russia or Serbia), neo-Gothic, neo-Baroque (mainly for administrative buildings, palaces and mansions) and neo-Renaissance.

In India, during the British Raj, a new style, Indo-Saracenic, (also known as Indo-Gothic, Mughal-Gothic, Neo-Mughal, or Hindoo style) was getting developed, which incorporated varying degrees of Indian elements into the Western European style. The Churches and convents of Goa are another example of the blending of traditional Indian styles with western European architectural styles. Most Indo-Saracenic public buildings were constructed between 1858 and 1947, with the peaking at 1880. [95] The style has been described as "part of a 19th-century movement to project themselves as the natural successors of the Mughals".[96] They were often built for modern functions such as transport stations, government offices, and law courts. It is much more evident in British power centres in the subcontinent like Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.[97]

Classicist Eclecticism[edit]

19th century Classicist Eclectic buildings on Avenue Montaigne (Paris)

During the 19th century, the combination of styles that derive from Greco-Roman architecture was very popular. Buildings in this style combine Renaissance, Baroque, Louis XVI, and Neoclassical elements. Countries in which Classicist Eclecticism was the most dominant style include France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Romania (the last being under French influence, and trying to show that it is a European country). More or less, this style was the mainstream one in all the Western world. It is the style with which the 19th century is most associated with.

Notable examples include (in France) the Théâtre de la Renaissance (1872), the many of the apartment block built during Haussmann's renovation of Paris, (in Romania) the many city-houses built during the reign of Carol I of Romania, the Bragadiru Palace (1894-1895), the Oromolu House (1927), the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, and (in Hungary) the New York Palace (1894).


The Palais Garnier (Paris), 1860–1875, by Charles Garnier. It is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts architecture characterized by Émile Zola as "the opulent bastard of all styles"

Beaux-Arts architecture[98] denotes the academic classical architectural style that was taught at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. The Beaux-Arts style is above all the cumulative product of two and a half centuries of instruction under the authority, first of the Académie royale d'architecture, then, following the Revolution, of the Architecture section of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The organization under the Ancien Régime of the competition for the Grand Prix de Rome in architecture, offering a chance to study in Rome, imprinted its codes and aesthetic on the course of instruction, which culminated during the Second Empire (1850–1870) and the Third Republic that followed. The style of instruction that produced Beaux-Arts architecture continued without a major renovation until 1968.[99]

Colonial architecture[edit]

During the Age of Discovery, architectural style from a colonizing country has been incorporated into the buildings of settlements or colonies in distant locations. Colonists frequently built settlements that synthesized the architecture of their countries of origin with the design characteristics of their new lands, creating hybrid designs.[103] Countries born out of colonialism hold these houses in a national status.

Art Nouveau[edit]

Thistles and mascarons with curve-lined hair on Les Chardons building (Paris), 1903, by Charles Klein

Around 1900 a number of architects around the world began developing new architectural solutions to integrate traditional precedents with new social demands and technological possibilities, being inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers. The work of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde in Brussels, Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Otto Wagner in Vienna and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow, among many others, can be seen as a common struggle between old and new.

Art Nouveau architecture was a reaction against the eclectic styles that dominated European architecture in the second half of the 19th century. It was expressed through decoration: either ornamental (based on flowers and plants, e.g. thistles,[104] irises,[105] cyclamens, orchids, water lilies, etc.) or sculptural (see the respective section below). While faces of people (or mascarons) are referred to ornament, the use of people in different forms of sculpture (statues and reliefs: see the respective section below) were also typical for Art Nouveau. Before Vienna Secession, Jugendstil and National romantic style façades were asymmetrical, and often decorated with polychrome ceramic tiles. The decoration usually suggested movement; there was no distinction between the structure and the ornament.[106] The whiplash motif, adapted from vegetal forms, was widely used.


Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely.[107] Modern architecture has continued into the 21st century as a contemporary style, especially for corporate office buildings. In a broader sense, modern architecture began at the turn of the 20th century with efforts to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society. It would take the form of numerous movements, schools of design, and architectural styles, some in tension with one another, and often equally defying such classification.[107]

Early Modern[edit]

Early Modern architecture began with a number of building styles with similar characteristics, primarily the simplification of form and the elimination of ornament, that first arose around 1900. By the 1940s these styles had largely consolidated and been identified as the International Style.

The exact characteristics and origins of modern architecture are still open to interpretation and debate. An important trigger appears to have been the maxim credited to Louis Sullivan: "form follows function". Functionalism in architecture, is the principle that architects should design a building based on the purpose of that building. This statement is less self-evident than it first appears, and is a matter of confusion and controversy within the profession, particularly in regard to modern architecture.


Expressionist architecture was an architectural movement that developed in Northern Europe during the first decades of the 20th century in parallel with the expressionist visual and performing arts.

The style was characterised by an early-modernist adoption of novel materials, formal innovation, and very unusual massing, sometimes inspired by natural biomorphic forms, sometimes by the new technical possibilities offered by the mass production of brick, steel and especially glass. Many expressionist architects fought in World War I and their experiences, combined with the political turmoil and social upheaval that followed the German Revolution of 1919, resulted in a utopian outlook and a romantic socialist agenda.[108] Economic conditions severely limited the number of built commissions between 1914 and the mid-1920s,[109] resulting in many of the most important Expressionist works remaining as projects on paper, such as Bruno Taut's Alpine Architecture and Hermann Finsterlin's Casa Nova. Zukunftsarchitektur – Formenspiel und Feinbau. Ephemeral exhibition buildings were numerous and highly significant during this period. Scenography for theatre and films provided another outlet for the Expressionist imagination,[110] and provided supplemental incomes for designers attempting to challenge conventions in a harsh economic climate.

Art Deco[edit]

The Art Deco style in architecture emerged in Paris just before World War I with the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées by Auguste Perret (1911–1913) and the Majorelle Building by Henri Sauvage (1913). Its revolutionary use of reinforced concrete, geometric forms, straight lines, and decorative sculpture applied to the outside of the building in plaques of marble, ceramics and stucco, and later in stainless steel, were a departure from Art Nouveau. The style reached its peak in the 1920s and 1930s, and took its name from the International Exhibition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925.

Art Deco became especially popular in the United States in the late 1920s, where the style was used for skyscrapers including the Chrysler Building (1930) and Empire State Building (1931), and for lavish motion picture palaces including Radio City Music Hall (1932) in New York City and the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California. In the 1930s a stripped-down variation called Streamline Moderne emerged, which was inspired by the curving aerodynamic forms of ocean liners, airplanes and trains. Art Deco was used for office buildings, government buildings, train stations and movie theaters around the world in the 1930s, but declined rapidly at the end of the decade due to the Great Depression and intense criticism of the style by modernist architects such as Le Corbusier, who denounced what he felt was its excessive ornament. By 1939, the style was largely out of fashion and was replaced by the more austere International Style.[111]

International Style[edit]

The International style was a major architectural trend of the 1920s and 1930s. The term usually refers to the buildings and architects of the formative decades of modernism, before World War II. The term had its origin from the name of a book by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson which identified, categorised and expanded upon characteristics common to modernism across the world. As a result, the focus was more on the stylistic aspects of modernism. The basic design principles of the International Style thus constitute part of modernism.

The ideas of Modernism were developed especially in what was taught at the German Bauhaus School in Weimar (from 1919), Dessau (between 1926 and 1932) and finally Berlin between 1932 and 1933, under the leadership first of its founder Walter Gropius, then Hannes Meyer, and finally Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Modernist theory in architecture resided in the attempt to bypass the question of what style a building should be built in, a concern that had overshadowed 19th-century architecture, and the wish to reduce form to its most minimal expression of structure and function. In the United States, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock treated this new phenomenon in 1931 as if it represented a new style – the International Style, thereby misrepresenting its primary mission as merely a matter of eliminating traditional ornament. The core effort to pursue Modern architecture as an abstract, scientific programme was more faithfully carried forward in Europe, but issues of style always overshadowed its stricter and more puritan goals, not least in the work of Le Corbusier.

Critical regionalism[edit]

The Sydney Opera House, designed to evoke the sails of yachts in the Sydney harbor

Critical regionalism is an approach to architecture that strives to counter the placelessness and lack of meaning in Modern architecture by using contextual forces to give a sense of place and meaning. The term critical regionalism was first used by Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre and later more famously by Kenneth Frampton.

Frampton put forth his views in "Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six points of an architecture of resistance." He evokes Paul Ricœur's question of "how to become modern and to return to sources; how to revive an old, dormant civilization and take part in universal civilization". According to Frampton, critical regionalism should adopt modern architecture critically for its universal progressive qualities but at the same time should value responses particular to the context. Emphasis should be on topography, climate, light, tectonic form rather than scenography and the tactile sense rather than the visual. Frampton draws from phenomenology to supplement his arguments.


Postmodern architecture is an international style whose first examples are generally cited as being from the 1950s, and which continues to influence present-day architecture. Postmodernity in architecture is generally thought to be heralded by the return of "wit, ornament and reference" to architecture in response to the formalism of the International Style of modernism. As with many cultural movements, some of postmodernism's most pronounced and visible ideas can be seen in architecture. The functional and formalized shapes and spaces of the modernist movement are replaced by unapologetically diverse aesthetics: styles collide, form is adopted for its own sake, and new ways of viewing familiar styles and space abound.

Classic examples of modern architecture are the Lever House and the Seagram Building in commercial space, and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright or the Bauhaus movement in private or communal spaces. Transitional examples of postmodern architecture are the Portland Building in Portland and the Sony Building (New York City) (originally AT&T Building) in New York City, which borrows elements and references from the past and reintroduces color and symbolism to architecture. A prime example of inspiration for postmodern architecture lies along the Las Vegas Strip, which was studied by Robert Venturi in his 1972 book Learning from Las Vegas celebrating the strip's ordinary and common architecture. Venturi opined that "Less is a bore", inverting Mies Van Der Rohe's dictum that "Less is more".

Following the postmodern movement, a renaissance of pre-modernist urban and architectural ideals established itself, with New Urbanism and New Classical architecture being prominent movements.


The Imperial War Museum North in Manchester comprises three apparently intersecting curved volumes.

Deconstructivism in architecture is a development of postmodern architecture that began in the late 1980s. It is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, non-linear processes of design, an interest in manipulating ideas of a structure's surface or skin, and apparent non-Euclidean geometry,[112] (i.e., non-rectilinear shapes) which serve to distort and dislocate some of the elements of architecture, such as structure and envelope. The finished visual appearance of buildings that exhibit the many deconstructivist "styles" is characterised by a stimulating unpredictability and a controlled chaos.

Important events in the history of the Deconstructivist movement include the 1982 Parc de la Villette architectural design competition (especially the entry from the French philosopher Jacques Derrida and the American architect Peter Eisenman[113] and Bernard Tschumi's winning entry), the Museum of Modern Art's 1988 Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition in New York, organized by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley, and the 1989 opening of the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, designed by Peter Eisenman. The New York exhibition featured works by Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Coop Himmelblau, and Bernard Tschumi. Since the exhibition, many of the architects who were associated with Deconstructivism have distanced themselves from the term. Nonetheless, the term has stuck and has now, in fact, come to embrace a general trend within contemporary architecture.

The 21st century[edit]

On January 21, 2013 architects began preparations for constructing the world's first 3D-printed building. An industrial-scale 3D printer used high strength artificial marble.[114] Companies around the world have 3D-printed numerous buildings, many only taking a few hours to be completed. 3D-printed buildings have been shown to be practical, cost effective, and environmentally friendly. The technology is being expanded to other frameworks.

Sustainable architecture is an important topic in contemporary architecture, including the trends of New Urbanism, New Classical architecture and Eco-cities.

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]