SUMMARY OF ARCHITECTURE'S HISTORY
The history of architecture is as long as the history of humanity itself and is just as complex. The exact origin of architecture could be said to date to the Neolithic period, around 10 000 BC, or simply when people stopped living in caves and started working on the way they want their houses to look and feel. The urge to design an architectural artifact was fuelled by more than the need for aesthetic appeal. Architecture is driven by many parameters – comfort, elegance, technology, and finance.
Architecture always reflects the spirit of the time, in a way that is even more direct than the equivalent in art. From the beginning of architecture to the present day there have been two contrasting general developments in technical matters and aesthetic matters. It is undeniable that in the field of technology, comfort, and convenience there has been steady progress in the refinement and elaboration of architectural work. However, in the field of aesthetics, environmental response and social amenity there has been rather the opposite.
The general trend has been uneven and sporadic but sadly in the overview, there has been a general deterioration of the aesthetic quality of architecture from neolithic and Classical times, through the Renaissance to the present day. In earlier days, architectural styles would persist for centuries, undergoing gradual refinement using well-understood materials and techniques in well-studied environments.
These days, architectural styles are measured in decades, sometimes in a single decade. Architecture now changes rapidly with no proper study periods, mostly responding to rapid technological innovation, rapid social change, and demands Architecture is under large and rapidly changing financial pressures, with no time for environmental response or appreciation.
There is now no time for stylistic refinement, only rapid adaptation. As a result, in addition to the speeding up of stylistic change, styles increasingly overlap each other and are more diverse and diffuse. One development in architecture brought about by the development of structural quality and vertical transport of lifts has resulted in the creation of very tall buildings to take advantage of saving on land use and save costs. However, the secondary result of this development was an increasing loss of scale relevance of buildings to humans. Cities gradually became environments that were no longer related to human scale as ancient cities were.
Sadly Architecture is becoming a two-tier business. At one end there is a handful of stars producing signature buildings. On the other end, there is a broad mass of competing organisations putting up the vast mass of totally undistinguished buildings simply based on price, without any consideration of design quality or long-term performance. Below are some examples of the development in architecture over the ages to the present showing the increase in technical complexity and ability and the concurrent loss of aesthetic appeal, environmental response, and social amenity.