THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE IN THE WEST.
A Brief Synopsis of Architectural History in the West.
This is a very short history of architecture in the Western world, from prehistoric to modern times. The history below includes no information about the wide variation and extensive parallel history of architecture in Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Indian sub-Continent, the Muslim World, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. For these topics, see the later sections of the Website listed above.
The Buildings Database and Architects' Works Database does also include information on these other non-Western Architectural Zones.
This present History shown below is a view from the Western World of architecture. For additional information on Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, South-East Asian, Early & Late Latin American, Sub-Saharan & Islamic Islamic Architecture see the Sub-Sections Above.
Architecture is an art and Architectural styles overlap and do not start and stop at precise times, and the dates listed here are quite approximate and vary from region to region.
Architecture in Prehistoric Times 12,000 BC to 4,000 BC
Before recorded history, humans constructed stone circles, megaliths, inhabited and decorated caves and created temporary timber dwelling structures and villages. Mesopotamian Architecture
Architecture in Mesopotamia from 4,000 BC to 400 BC.
In the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates and Persia, successive Empires constructed monumental brick and stone fortified Cities, Temples, and Mortuaries. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. The glorious architecture of Persepolis was swept aside by Alexander the Great's invasion.
Ancient Egyptian Architecture 3,500 BC to 900 BC
In ancient Egypt, powerful Pharaonic dynasties constructed monumental Pyramids, Temples, Mortuaries and Shrines. Much Pharaonic architecture was for the glorification of the Dead. The Great Pyramid remains the greatest building volume in the World.
Classical Greek Architecture 800 BC to 146 AD
From the rise of the ancient Greek City States, Greek Architects constructed finely conceived Classical stone Temples, Stadia, Necropoles, Theatres, and Palaces. The refinements of Greek architectural proportion and detail have never been surpassed. The influence of Greek architecture lasted 2,000 years in the West.
Roman Architecture 146 BC to 400 AD
After the fall of ancient Greece to the Roman Empire, the Romans adopted and further developed the Classical Style. They built brick & stone Temples, Triumphal Arches, Aqueducts, Stadia, Amphitheatres, Basilicas, Theatres, Palaces and Bridges, in great Cities connected by road networks. The organisation of Roman Cities rivalled modern cities and their services in its complexity.
Early Christian Architecture 375 AD to 800 AD
European architecture moved on from the Roman Era and developed the Roman basilica form and Classical circular temple form to create the early Christian Churches Roman mosaic work was continued to decorate the interiors of these churches. Byzantine Architecture 375 to 800 AD The Eastern Roman Empire developed into the Byzantine Empire which developed unique domed Churches utilizing the Late Roman pendentive support for the domes. These construction methods made possible very large unobstructed interior spaces. Mosaic decoration was highly developed in these buildings.
Romanesque Architecture 500 to 1200 AD
In post-Roman Western Europe a style based on the Roman arcaded structure developed into Romanesque architecture with Roman semi-circular rounded arches. This style was very prominent in Germany. In Italy, it lingered far into the Gothic era.
Gothic Architecture 1100 to 1450 AD
Innovative Medieval architects created the pointed arch under Islamic influence to free up the vaulting methods used in the great cathedrals of Europe. In the Gothic cathedral, large stained-glass panels filled huge windows, which lit and coloured the interior Gothic architecture was only grudgingly used in Italy. In France, daringly sparse construction was pushed to the point of structural collapse in the pursuit of impressive lightness.
Renaissance Architecture 1450 to 1700 AD
The fall of Byzantium and the diaspora of knowledge and scholars led to a return to classical ideals. The Renaissance architects studied the Roman and Greek World of architecture. This style spread from Portugal to Poland and was exported to the New World and Asia by Colonists. Mannerist Architecture 1550 to 1650 AD Mannerist Architecture was a rebellion against the strict replication of Classical Architecture. A chief proponent was Michelangelo and his work led on to the Baroque Era. It was found in Palaces, Academic Buildings and Churches where it gave new freedom of expression to space.
Baroque Architecture 1600 to 1730 AD
Baroque style was characterised by flowing lines and spaces, lightness, opulence and dramatic churches and palaces with dynamic plans and extravagant ornamentation and colours. The movement began in Italy and Spain and spread over all Europe. In Austria and South Germany, it achieved singular success. Again this style was exported to the New World and Asia by Colonists and the Jesuits.
Rococo Architecture 1650 to 1790 AD
The Rococo style was a further development of the Baroque Style and was greatly utilised in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe as far as Russia. Much elaborate decoration and extravagant sweeping curves were added to buildings distinguished by effects of lightness and joy.
American Colonial Architecture 1600 to 1780 AD
European Colonists settled in the New World, in both North and South America. The architects borrowed ideas from their homelands to create their own local styles of architecture.
Georgian Architecture 1720 to 1800 AD
Georgian was an English variant of Renaissance architecture. It was exported to English Colonies including Australia, India and the American Colonies. The style created distinguished and orderly Houses, Churches and Public Buildings of all sorts. It facilitated large scale town-planning.
Neoclassical Architecture 1730 AD to 1925
In England and Germany particularly there was a renewed interest in ideas of the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. It inspired a return to the Classical forms in Europe, Russia and the United States.
Greek Revival Architecture 1790 to 1850 AD
Greek Revival architecture was an extension of Neoclassical architecture which was sparked by archaeological discoveries in the field of Earlier Classical Greek architecture. The style was used in Antebellum homes in the American South. It was very popular also in Scotland.
Neo-Gothic Architecture 1780 AD to 1930
In the Romantic Era Medieval Gothic ideas were re-introduced for a new range of building types like Universities, Railway Stations, Parliaments, Town Halls, and Industrial projects. In the early twentieth century, medieval Gothic ideas were applied to the surface of tall modern skyscrapers.
Victorian Architecture 1840 to 1900
Industrialisation brought innovations in architecture and transport. The Victorian-style includes Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Neo-Byzantine, Neo-Romanesque and French Second Empire styles The style change was assisted by the use of new materials like steel, iron, large span glass, concrete and generally cheaper manufacturing techniques.
Arts and Crafts Movement in Architecture 1860 to 1900
The Arts and Crafts was a late 19th-century philosophical development against the forces of industrialisation. The Arts and Crafts movement wanted to return to earlier simpler times. It revived interest in handicrafts and wanted a connection with the environment. It brought a new integration with painting and mosaic decoration. The Craftsman Bungalow style was an American development of this movement.
Art Nouveau Architecture 1890 to 1914
Art Nouveau was first expressed in France by fabrics and graphic design. The style spread to architecture and furniture in the 1890s and was disseminated from France across Europe. Art Nouveau buildings often have flowing ornamentation and free asymmetrical plans. In Spain, architect Antonio Gaudi was inspired by plant-like forms.
Beaux-Arts Architecture 1895 to 1925
Beaux-Arts Classicism was an Academically inspired development in architecture. Beaux-Arts architecture is characterised by order, symmetry, and staid design. It was used for institutions seeking grandiosity and impressive ornamentation.
Art Deco Architecture 1920 to 1940
Art Deco Architecture was a graphics inspired style developing out the Bauhaus style. Bold patterns and soaring lines created dramatic effects in the Jazz-Age. Distinctive examples are seen in Miami Beach.
20th Century Architecture 1900 to 2000
The Twentieth Century saw dramatic changes in materials, industrialisation and astonishing diversity of function. Building Processes were further industrialised to replace workforce reduced by Wars. Twentieth-century trends included Modernism and the Bauhaus school, Later Post-World-War-II developments included Brutalism, Deconstructionism, and Post-Modernism.
21st Century Architecture
The Twenty-First Century saw the crisis-inspired styles of Deconstructionism, Formalism, Structuralism, and Postmodernism continue to develop. The Century introduced to architecture an increased emphasis on energy-sustainable design concepts. There was an increase in cutting-edge architectural thought in Japan, South Korea, and China.
For a fuller and more detailed treatment of the History of Architecture in the Western Hemisphere, go to the "WESTERN HEMISPHERE 1-3" Sections.