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Brief Guide to Cornerstone Architecture and Design Styles
Historical building designs have had a large impact on shaping the spaces we see in western society. Architecture and design can help bring balance to peoples lives: if you know more about what you like, you can start to curate your space in a way that boosts your overall well being. Here we’ll take a brief look at historical architecture styles and the modern design philosophies they’ve inspired today.
“As an architect, you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.”Norman Foster
Classical architecture refers to ancient Greece and Rome. These buildings were constructed under precise rules and symmetry, symmetry being one of the key things needed for a harmonious design. This is where we see the birth of column styles: doric, ionic, and corinthian. We saw a classical revival as American society was being formed. Rome was associated with great political power, thus inspiring the founding fathers to model our capital after these historical buildings.
The Byzantine style originated in Istanbul around 330 BCE. This is where we see the shift from stone to brick. Builders challenged themselves to create impressive domes. Religious buildings became intricate and breathtaking. Mosaics and decorative tiles became very popular and still inspire designers today. The typical church layout we have today was inspired by this style. We only have domed ceilings today thanks to ancient architects then.
In 800 BCE the Romanesque style appeared. It is characterized by vaulted ceilings and symmetrical geometry. Modern Romanesque architecture makes use of large arches and thick walls–many modern mansions use elements of Romanesque style in entryways and foyers.
Gothic Architecture appears in the 1100’s. Prior to this, use of windows was minimal because architects were afraid walls would not support them. With the use of new building techniques (flying buttresses and ribbed vaulting), Gothic architects were able to build tall, graceful buildings that allowed a lot of light in. Stained glass windows were created then and many of the modern churches being built today are gothic revival.
In the 1500’s the Renaissance inspired societies to return to classical architecture. Rather than just using classical styles to build government buildings, private villas were starting to be created with the same proportional characteristics. This will pave the way for America’s neoclassicism style in the 1700’s.
While renaissance architecture was inspiring the rest of the world, Italy and France chose to develop the Baroque style. This was characterized by orante and highly detailed molding designs. Bright, opulent colors display an excess of wealth. This style faded into Rococo, clearly influenced by its predecessor but with a lighter touch.
Art Nouveau emerged in the 1900s and embraces asymmetry. The movement was inspired by soft, sloping lines in Japanese architecture. Curling, plant like designs mimic the graphic design style that was popular at the time. This is considered to be the birth of modern architecture. Art Deco was born in the 1920’s during a massive influx of American wealth–the New York City Chrysler building was created at the time. Bauhaus inspired many of the geometric and strong senses of linear balance.
Finally, modern and increasingly accessible computers have allowed for groundbreaking building designs. Today’s boundary-pushing architects create structures that seem to defy physics.