For a topical guide to this subject, see Outline of architecture.
„architectura“, from the Greek „arkitekton“, ὰρχιτεκτονική –
arkhitektonike, from ὰρχι chief
) is the art and
science of designing buildings and other physical structures.
Architecture is both the process and the product of designing and
constructing spaces that reflect and functional, aesthetic and
environmental considerations. Architecture requires the use of
materials, technology, textures, light, and shadow. As a process,
architecture also includes the pragmatic elements of design, such
as planning, cost and construction. A wider definition may comprise
all design activity from the macro-level (urban design, landscape
architecture) to the micro-level (construction details and
furniture). In fact, architecture today may refer to the activity
of designing any kind of system.
Architectural works are often perceived as cultural and political
symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often
identified with their surviving architectural achievements.
Architects plan, design and review the construction of buildings
and structures for the use of people by the creative organisation
of materials and components with consideration to mass
, form, volume
, and pragmatic elements such as
cost, construction limitations and technology, to achieve an end
which is usually functional, economical, practical and often
artistic. This distinguishes architecture from engineering
design, which has as its primary
object the creative manipulation of materials and forms using
As documentation produced by architects, typically drawings, plans
and technical specifications, architecture defines the structure
of a building or any other kind of system
that is to be or has been constructed.
Theory of architecture
The earliest written work on the subject of architecture is
, by the
Roman architect Vitruvius
in the early 1st
century CE. According to Vitruvius, a good building should satisfy
the three principles of firmitatis utilitatis venustatis
which translates roughly as -
- Durability - it should stand up robustly and remain in good
- Utility - it should be useful and function well for the people
- Beauty - it should delight people and raise their spirits.
According to Vitruvius, the architect should strive to fulfill each
of these three attributes as well as possible.Leone Battista Alberti
elaborates on the ideas of Vitruvius in his treatise, De Re Aedificatoria
, saw beauty
primarily as a matter of proportion, although ornament also played
a part. For Alberti, the rules of proportion were those that
governed the idealised human figure, the Golden Mean
.The most important aspect of beauty
was therefore an inherent part of an object, rather than something
applied superficially; and was based on universal, recognisable
truths. The notion of style in the arts was not developed until the
16th century, with the writing of Vasari
treatises, by the 18th century, had been translated into Italian,
French, Spanish and English.
In the early nineteenth century, Augustus Welby Northmore
wrote Contrasts (1836) that, as the titled suggested,
contrasted the modern, industrial world, which he disparaged, with
an idealized image of neo-medieval world. Gothic architecture
, Pugin believed, was
the only “true Christian form of architecture.”
The 19th century English art critic, John
, in his Seven Lamps of Architecture
1849, was much narrower in his view of what constituted
architecture. Architecture was the "art which so disposes and
adorns the edifices raised by men ... that the sight of them"
contributes "to his mental health, power, and pleasure".
For Ruskin, the aesthetic was of overriding significance. His work
goes on to state that a building is not truly a work of
architecture unless it is in some way "adorned". For Ruskin, a
well-constructed, well-proportioned, functional building needed
string courses or rustication, at the very least.
On the difference between the ideals of "architecture" and mere
, the renowned 20th C.
architect Le Corbusier
employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these materials you
build houses and palaces: that is construction. Ingenuity is at
work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good. I am happy
and I say: This is beautiful. That is Architecture".
Contemporary concepts of architecture
The great 19th century architect of skyscrapers, Louis Sullivan
, promoted an overriding
precept to architectural design: "Form follows function
While the notion that structural and aesthetic considerations
should be entirely subject to functionality was met with both
popularity and skepticism, it had the effect of introducing the
concept of "function" in place of Vitruvius "utility". "Function"
came to be seen as encompassing all criteria of the use, perception
and enjoyment of a building, not only practical but also aesthetic,
psychological and cultural.
Nunzia Rondanini stated, "Through its aesthetic dimension
architecture goes beyond the functional aspects that it has in
common with other human sciences. Through its own particular way of
architecture can stimulate and influence social life without
presuming that, in and of itself, it will promote social
To restrict the meaning of (architectural) formalism to art for
art's sake is not only reactionary; it can also be a purposeless
quest for perfection or originality which degrades form into a mere
Among the philosophies that have influenced modern architects and
their approach to building design are rationalism
, and phenomenology
In the late 20th century a new concept was added to those included
in the compass of both structure and function, the consideration of
. To satisfy the
contemporary ethos a building should be constructed in a manner
which is environmentally friendly in terms of the production of its
materials, its impact upon the natural and built environment of its
surrounding area and the demands that it makes upon non-sustainable
power sources for heating, cooling, water and waste management and
Origins and the ancient world
Architecture first evolved out of the dynamics between needs
(shelter, security, worship, etc.) and means (available building materials
and attendant skills).
As human cultures developed and knowledge began to be formalized
through oral traditions and practices, architecture became a
Here there is a process of trial and error, and later improvisation
or replication of a successful trial. What is termed Vernacular architecture
be produced in many parts of the world. Indeed, vernacular
buildings make up most of the built world that people experience
Early human settlements were mostly rural
Due to a
surplus in production the economy began to expand resulting in
urbanization thus creating urban areas
which grew and evolved very rapidly in some cases, such as that of
Huyuk in Anatolia and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan.
ancient civilizations, like the Egyptians' and Mesopotamians',
architecture and urbanism reflected the constant engagement with
the divine and the supernatural, while
in other ancient cultures such as Persia architecture
and urban planning was used to
exemplify the power of the state.
The architecture and urbanism
and the Roman
evolved from civic ideals rather than
religious or empirical ones and new building types emerged.
Architectural styles developed.
Texts on architecture began to be written in the Classical period.
These became canons to be followed in important works, especially
religious architecture. Some examples of canons are found in the
writings of Vitruvius, the Kao Gong Ji of ancient China and Vaastu Shastra of ancient India and Manjusri
vasthu vidya sastra of Sri
The architecture of different parts of Asia
developed along different lines from that of Europe, Buddhist,
Hindu and Sikh architecture each having different characteristics.
Buddhist architecture, in particular, showed great regional
diversity. In many Asian
pantheistic religion led to architectural forms that were designed
specifically to enhance the natural
The medieval builder
the 7th century CE
, developing from a
blend of architectural forms from the ancient Middle East
and from Byzantium
but also developing features to suit the
religious and social needs of the society. Examples can be found
throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, and were to
become a significant stylistic influence on European architecture
during the Medieval period.
, in both the Classical
periods, buildings were not attributed to
specific individuals and the names of the architects frequently
unknown, despite the vast scale of the many religious buildings
extant from this period.
During the Medieval period guilds
by craftsmen to organise their trade and written contracts have
survived, particularly in relation to ecclesiastical buildings. The
role of architect was usually one with that of master mason, or
as they are sometimes described in
Over time the complexity of buildings and their types increased.
General civil construction such as roads and bridges began to be
built. Many new building types such as schools, hospitals, and
recreational facilities emerged.
Renaissance and the architect
With the Renaissance
and its emphasis on
the individual and humanity rather than religion, and with all its
attendant progress and achievements, a new chapter began. Buildings
were ascribed to specific architects - Brunelleschi
- and the cult of the individual had
There was still no dividing line between artist
, or any of the related vocations,
and the appellation was often one of regional preference. At this
stage, it was still possible for an artist to design a bridge as
the level of structural calculations involved was within the scope
of the generalist.
Early modern and the industrial age
With the emerging knowledge in scientific fields and the rise of
new materials and technology, architecture and engineering
began to separate, and the architect
began to concentrate on aesthetics
at the expense of technical aspects of building design.
was also the rise of the "gentleman architect" who usually dealt
with wealthy clients and concentrated predominantly on visual
qualities derived usually from historical prototypes, typified by
the many country houses of Great Britain that were created in the
or Scottish Baronial
architectural training in the 19th century, for example at Ecole des Beaux Arts in France, gave much
emphasis to the production of beautiful drawings and little to
context and feasibility.
Effective architects generally
received their training in the offices of other architects,
graduating to the role from draughtsmen or clerks.
Meanwhile, the Industrial
laid open the door for mass production and
consumption. Aesthetics became a criterion for the middle class as
ornamented products, once within the province of expensive
craftsmanship, became cheaper under machine production.
became increasingly ornamental. House builders could use current
architectural design in their work by combining features found in
pattern books and architectural journals.
Modernism and reaction of architecture
The dissatisfaction with such a general situation at the turn of
the twentieth century gave rise to many new lines of thought that
served as precursors to Modern
. Notable among these is the Deutscher Werkbund
, formed in 1907 to
produce better quality machine made objects. The rise of the
profession of industrial design
usually placed here.
this lead, the Bauhaus school, founded in
Germany in 1919, consciously rejected history and looked at architecture as a synthesis of
art, craft, and technology.
When Modern architecture
first practiced, it was an avant-garde
movement with moral, philosophical, and aesthetic underpinnings.
Immediately after World War I
pioneering modernist architects sought to develop a completely new
style appropriate for a new post-war social and economic order,
focused on meeting the needs of the middle and working classes.
They rejected the architectural practice of the academic refinement
of historical styles which served the rapidly declining
The approach of the Modernist architects was to reduce buildings to
pure forms, removing historical references and ornament in favor of
functionalist details. Buildings that displayed their construction
and structure, exposing steel beams and concrete surfaces instead
of hiding them behind traditional forms, were seen as beautiful in
their own right.
Architects such as Mies van der
worked to create beauty based on the inherent qualities of
building materials and modern construction techniques, trading
traditional historic forms for simplified geometric forms,
celebrating the new means and methods made possible by the Industrial Revolution
Many architects resisted Modernism, finding it devoid of the
decorative richness of ornamented styles. As the founders of the
lost influence in the late 1970s, Postmodernism
developed as a reaction against
the austerity of Modernism. Robert
's contention that a "decorated shed" (an ordinary
building which is functionally designed inside and embellished on
the outside) was better than a "duck" (a building in which the
whole form and its function are tied together) gives an idea of
Part of the architectural profession, and also some non-architects,
responded to Modernism
by going to what they considered
the root of the problem. They felt that architecture was not a
personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individualists;
rather it had to consider everyday needs of people and use
technology to give a livable environment.
The Design Methodology Movement
involving people such as
searching for more people-oriented designs. Extensive studies on
areas such as behavioral, environmental, and social sciences were
done and started informing the design process.
As the complexity of buildings began to increase (in terms of
structural systems, services, energy and technologies),
architecture started becoming more multi-disciplinary. Architecture
today usually requires a team of specialist professionals, with the
architect being one of many, although usually the team
During the last two decades of the twentieth century and into the
new millennium, the field of architecture saw the rise of
specializations by project type, technological expertise or project
delivery methods. In addition, there has been an increased
separation of the 'design' architect from the 'project'
Moving the issues of environmental sustainability
into the mainstream is a
significant development in the architecture profession.
Sustainability in architecture was pioneered in the 1970s by
architects such as Ian McHarg
in the US
and Brenda and Robert Vale
the UK and New Zealand. There has been an acceleration in the
number of buildings which seek to meet green building sustainable design
principles. It is now
expected that architects will integrate sustainable principles into
their projects. An example of an architecturally innovative green
building is the Dynamic Tower
will be powered by wind turbines
a. A design
architect is one who is responsible for the design
b. A project architect is one who is responsible
for ensuring the design is built correctly and who administers
building contracts - in non-specialist architectural practices the
project architect is also the design architect and the term refers
to the differing roles the architect plays at differing stages of
- D. Rowland - T.N. Howe: Vitruvius. Ten Books on Architecture.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999, ISBN 0-521-00292-3
- Translated by Henry Wotton, in 1624, as "firmness, commodity
and delight" 
- Vitruvius 
- Françoise Choay, Alberti and Vitruvius, editor, Joseph
Rykwert, Profile 21, Architectural Design, Vol 49 No 5-6
- Banister Fletcher, A History of Architecture on the
- John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, G. Allen
(1880), reprinted Dover, (1989) ISBN 0-486-26145-X
- Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, Dover
Publications(1985). ISBN 0-486-25023-7
- Rondanini, Nunzia Architecture and Social Change
Heresies II, Vol. 3, No. 3, New York, Neresies Collective Inc.,
- 7th-5th centuries BCE.
- The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED
(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has
been instrumental in this. Other energy efficiency and green building
rating systems include Energy Star, Green Globes, and CHPS
High Performance Schools),LEED.
- Panayiotis Pagalos, "The significance of time in contemporary
architecture. Technical and poetic time: the case of Aldo Rossi",
Phd dissertation, University of Patras, Greece, 2008