An architectural style is characterized by the features that make a building or other structure notable and historically identifiable. A style may include such elements as form, method of construction, building materials, and regional character. Most architecture can be classified as a chronology of styles which changes over time reflecting changing fashions, beliefs and religions, or the emergence of new ideas, technology, or materials which make new styles possible.
Styles therefore emerge from the history of a society and are documented in the subject of architectural history. At any time several styles may be fashionable, and when a style changes it usually does so gradually, as architects learn and adapt to new ideas. The new style is sometimes only a rebellion against an existing style, such as post-modernism (means "after modernism") which has in recent years found its own language and split into a number of styles with other names.
Styles often spread to other places, so that the style at its source continues to develop in new ways while other countries follow with their own twist. For instance, the Renaissance began in Italy around 1425 and spread to all of Europe over the next 200 years, with the French, Belgian, German, English, and Spanish Renaissance being recognisably the same style, but with unique characteristics. A style may also spread through colonialism, either by foreign colonies learning from their home country, or by settlers moving to a new land. One example is the Spanish missions in California, brought by Spanish priests in the late 18th century and built in a unique style.
After a style has gone out of fashion, there are often revivals and re-interpretations. For instance, classicism has been revived many times and found new life as neoclassicism. Each time it is revived, it is different. The Spanish mission style was revived 100 years later as the Mission Revival, and that soon evolved into the Spanish Colonial Revival.
Vernacular architecture works slightly differently and is listed separately. It is the native method of construction used by local people, usually using labour-intensive methods and local materials, and usually for small structures such as rural cottages. It varies from region to region even within a country, and takes little account of national styles or technology. As western society has developed, vernacular styles have mostly become outmoded by new technology and national building standards.
- 1 Examples of styles
- 2 Chronology of styles
- 2.1 Prehistoric
- 2.2 Mediterranean and Middle-East Civilizations
- 2.3 Ancient Asian
- 2.4 Classical Antiquity
- 2.5 The Dark Ages
- 2.6 Medieval Europe
- 2.7 Asian architecture contemporary with the Dark Ages and medieval Europe
- 2.8 American architecture contemporary with the Dark and Middle Ages
- 2.9 The Renaissance and its successors
- 2.10 Asian architecture contemporary with Renaissance and post-Renaissance Europe
- 2.11 Neoclassicism
- 2.12 Revivalism and Orientalism
- 2.13 Reactions to the Industrial Revolution
- 2.14 Modernism and other styles contemporary with modernism
- 2.15 Post-Modernism and early 21st century styles
- 3 Fortified styles
- 4 Vernacular styles
- 5 Alphabetical listing
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Examples of styles
Chronology of styles
Early civilizations developed, often independently, in scattered locations around the globe. The architecture was often a mixture of styles in timber cut from local forests and stone hewn from local rocks. Most of the timber has gone, although the earthworks remain. Impressive, massive stone structures have survived.
Mediterranean and Middle-East Civilizations
The architecture of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, derived from the ancient Mediterranean civilisations such as at Knossos on Crete. They developed highly refined systems for proportions and style, using mathematics and geometry.
The Dark Ages
The European "Dark Ages" are generally taken to run from the end of the Roman Empire, circa around 400 AD, to around 1000 AD. Relatively little is known of this period, but Christianity (spread by the Romans) was already making a significant impact on European culture, and the Romans left a technological and social legacy.
The dominance of the Church over everyday life was expressed in grand spiritual designs which emphasized piety and sobriety. The Romanesque style was simple and austere. The Gothic style heightened the effect with heavenly spires, pointed arches and religious carvings.
Asian architecture contemporary with the Dark Ages and medieval Europe
American architecture contemporary with the Dark and Middle Ages
The Renaissance and its successors
1425-1660. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread through Europe, rebelling against the all-powerful Church, by placing Man at the centre of his world instead of God. The Gothic spires and pointed arches were replaced by classical domes and rounded arches, with comfortable spaces and entertaining details, in a celebration of humanity. The Baroque style was a florid development of this 200 years later, largely by the Catholic Church to restate its religious values.
Asian architecture contemporary with Renaissance and post-Renaissance Europe
1720-1837 and onwards. A time often depicted as a rural idyll by the great painters, but in fact was a hive of early industrial activity, with small kilns and workshops springing up wherever materials could be mined or manufactured. After the Renaissance, neoclassical forms were developed and refined into new styles for public buildings and the gentry.