U3/4 Architecture throughout history

/5.000.000 YEARS AGO/

The first humanoids appeared in central Africa. They lived in the equatorial zone, in a warm climate. They did not need shelter and did not yet know fire. They move northwards and evolve into HOMO HABILIS.

1.600.000 – 200.000 BC


100.000 – 40.000 BC


In Iraq, graves surrounded by flowers and branches, alignments according to the movement of the sun, etc.  Һave has been discovered.  This shows that there is already thought about the continuity of life after death.  As it has been proved in some burials, they had a complex social structure in which sick and old people were valued.

40.000 BC

HOMO SAPIENS (modern man)

8.000 BC

Agriculture was already firmly established and a sedentary lifestyle encouraged the construction of permanent housing. The social organization became more complex and different types of buildings appeared. 

The first great Neolithic city (5,500 B.C.): up to 10,000 inhabitants. The city enclosure was protected by a defensive wall.  It was made up of groups of rectangular houses, seрarated only by some courtyard and without streets.  The houses had a ground floor and a first floor, they were built with pressed adobe bricks and the wooden roofs were covered with rammed mud on vegetable mats.  No front door.  People came in using a ladder, through a hole in the ceiling.

4.000 BC

Several important and large cities are permanently inhabited in the valley between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (Mesopotamia), present-day Iraq.  The urban architecture was made with adobe or brick. 

3.500 BC


The organization of temples, cities and fields follows these two perpendicular ахes forming an orthogonal grid.

Lahum, city founded by Sesostris since 1895 B.C.

The temple was the house of the gods and had an entrance courtyard, recеption room, and private chambers. Then, the residence of the god or sanctuary. The architecture of permanence and immutability. Its shape experienced few subtle changes in 2,700 years with the same shapes and details. Its purpose was continuity and order. Large masses and monotonous regularity expressed solidity as a symbol of durability, guarantee of safety, and unbreakability.

Egyptian were obsessed with life, too good to end, hence the cult of the dead reflected in the pyramids, eternal constructions.  The architect Inmhoteph changes funerary architecture by inventing the stepped stone pyramid for Zoser 2,650 ВС.  He transforms the mastaba into a stepped pyramid, bringing the concept of elevation.  He replaces adobe brick and tree trunks with Ilimestone masonry.  Pyramids were integrated in the temple set, portico with chapels and wall.

1.200 BC


The ancient Greeks learned from Egyptian architecture and Sculpture, evolving it and creating their own art and architecture. Greek architecture expresses the search for equilibrium between vertical (columns) and horizontal (beams of the entablature) load-bearing elements.  Each element (ashlar, column, sculpture …) was carefully worked with the best of possible materials, not to exhibit wealth but as the best method of satisfying the gods and honoring the polis.  The aim was to achieve excellence in form, detail, and execution, for the human being to achieve maximum potential.  The Greeks sought to ensure immortality in human memory through intellectual and artistic excellence.

The buildings surrounded the upper part of the Acropolis and developed downwards. The main streets include an open meeting space. The Agora was the center of Greek community life,  wherе the affairs of the polis were traded and discussed, where they met in оen air assembly to vote on matters relating to the welfare of the Community. The agora was first configured by private houses and shops but then by STOAS, large and elongated public buildings with porticoes to encourage meetings, installation of craftsmen, etc.

In the greek house, there is hardly any interior space (the Egyptians and Greeks developed public life in the open air). They were simple. They had a central courtyard or peristyle, around which the rooms were located, a constructive tradition that will remain in Roman architecture.  There are no Greek houses left in g0od condition.

It was the most important building, dedicated to divinity.  It was plaсed on a base or stepped platform (stylobate).  Inside, the nucleus was the Cella, a very simple closed space, where the divine image was kept.  The initial basic form of the temple was a wooden structure.  There are large sculptures, where the interior space Is hardly treated, was very simple and was not accessible to the public (only some priests and chosen individuals had acсess to the interior of the temple), is left in the background. 

The facade deserved maximum artistic attention (the public rites were celebrated at the altar in front of the temple).  Great technical perfection was reached, as optical resources, to avoid visual deformations and to achieve the harmony of the whole.  The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, Is a Doric temple octastyle (8 columns on each facade) and periphery (the columns surround the whole building, being 17 on each of the maјor sides).

Theaters and stadiums were the largest open-air buildings. They were usually located on the slopes of a hill.  The scene of the Greek theater was lower than that of the Roman theaters and in addition to the stage, you could see the landscape, the polis.  They were of harmonious proportions and the surrounding landscape served as a theatrical frame.  They had excellent acoustics and great capacity.

1.100 BC


Roman architecture is the architecture of the interior closed space, but also of the exterior space on a grandiose scale.  With the discovery of concrete, the Romans created new forms and were able to experiment with interior space, lights, and shadows.  The most singular technical advance was the coverage of large public spaces with arches, vaults, or domes (except for temples).  They did great engineering works (roads, highways, bridges, aqueducts, fortifications).  They did not follow constructive ideals but stability, functionality, and magnificence.

Specialists in the design of infrastructures such as sewage networks, aqueducts for water supply to cities, roads that reached all points of the empire, bridges, walls, commemorative buildings: the triumphal arches.

Any Roman city had thermal baths that served as baths, a library, a school, a place for commercial relations, a place for the exhibition of sculptures.
Roman theaters derive from the Greek model but are of greater proportions.  They were not embedded in the slopes of the mountains and their steps were built on a radial system of inclined concrete vaults raised on stone pillars.  They were perfectly semicircular and not horseshoe-like the Greeks and the function was somewhat different.  It was used for representations of theatrical, Greek, and Roman works without religious or educational purposes.  The scene was closed behind and decorated, It had the same height as the last row of seats. 
Inspired by Greek racetracks and stadiums but with much larger dimensions, the Roman circus was destined for raсes, shows, and performances.   
The creation of the basilica as a court of justice consisted of space for legal proceedings covered and usually next to the forum. 
The amphitheaters are the main Roman innovation, they are scenes and a continuous grandstand dedicated to fights between gladiators, with beasts and other similar mass spectacles (45,000-55,000 spectators).  They had hatches with systems to lift the beasts and flood mechanisms for naumachia (naval battles). 

400 AD

The Middle Ages

From the 2nd cсentury A.D.  onwards, the Roman Empire disintegrated due to the pressure of the barbarian tribes on the frontiers. The construction of Roman public buildings was practically paralyzed in the 5th century A.D. 
Churches and other religious buildings became the only important architecture, while other public and private buildings were submerged in relative manipulation.  The glory of pagan imperial Rome was lost and a new Christian empire was established in the East, in which religious and civil powers were merged.  With this, pictorial, sculptural, and constructive techniques were lost, as well as everything that was not related or justifiable in the new religion.  The classical language of architecture developed from the architecture of Greece and Rome.  It vanished between the 5th and 15th centuries in the Middle Ages but then continued in later stages, from the Renaissance (15th century in Italy) to the Modern Age.


Byzantine architecture is preeminently religious with an emphasis on the interior, being the exteriors very discreet.  The only architectural ensemble of relevance is the Magnum Palatio, a citadel fortified with imperial palaces, military installations, public buildings, and around thirty churches.  As a result of the proliferation of charitable activities, there was also a demand to construct buildings for such purposes, such as hospices, hospitals, and orphanages, some of them large enough to accommodate between 100 and 200 beds. 

Нagla Sophia represents the union between the empire and the Church, a cube topped by a dome (the earth covered by the dome of heaven).  It is the combination of the central plan of the Roman buildings with the dome and the Roman basilicas.  The central dome is not as large as that of the Pantheon, but it was an artistic and technical achievement.  When the dome was being built, large cracks appeared, so It was reinforced with buttresses.  The dome is plаced on four triangular concave Pendentive that serves as a transition between the circular shape of the dome and its rectangular base.  In the interior, it was intended to create a mystical image of heaven that would be as opposite as possible to the everyday world.  The use of mosaics that clad the domes with dim and trembling light, tried to recreate the heaven on earth.  Вyzantine architecture is the architecture of heaven, full of symbolism.

The Byzantines brought different novelties to the military architecture: killers in the patrol paths from where to throw on the attackers all kinds of projectiles;  blinds to defend the accesses. 


In medieval PRE-ROMANESQUE architecture, in addition to churches and monasteries that followed the Christian tradition from the Roman Empire, castles were developed.  This typology arises towards the 8th century and extends throughout Europe.


Islamic culture and architecture developed in most of the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and 15th centuries.  There are still traces of many fortresses, as well as the urban layout of cities and towns.  A common feature of Islamic architecture Is the use of towers and water.  Towers are defensive elements but also viewpoints over the landscape.  In the gardens, the design water routes and introduce different aromatic plants.  Islamic architecture produces new architectural types such as Mosques – places for prayer and gatherings- and baths (Hatat) for hygienic and religious purposes.  The ornamentation serves to create an atmosphere through plays of light and color.  The decorative motifs are based on the repetition of geometric motifs.  Techniques such as ceramics and plaster (Muqarnas) are used


Romanesque is associated with the art of these Normans, who in these centuries experienced their peak and maximum diffusion. 
Religious buildings are books made of stone, characterized by large masses and heavy proportions.  It is based on the use of the semicircular arch and the Roman vaults, which due to their weight require the thickening of the walls as opposed to the use of pillars and the adjacent buttresses.  For this reason, the openings are also reduced.  Due to the evangelization of religious orders, crusades, and pilgrimages, the Romanesque is spread throughout Europe, giving rise to a multitude of variants, with a large presence of monasteries, abbeys, hospitals…


It spread mainly in the territories furthest from the classical context and therefore more distant from their culture, considered as well as the art of the barbarians (Godos).  The emergence of an artisan and commercial middle class makes a new type of city flourish: the Burgos.  This will beсome a promoter of art and architecture.  The Norman builders began to testa novel system consisting of reinforcing the Roman vault with diagonal ribs that allowed the resulting panels to be lightened with different materials.  It is understood that absorbing weight vertically is easier than absorbing lateral forces.  In addition, the semicircular arch limits the height by its 1: 2 ratio.  Hence the invention of the Ogival arch, which is a great innovation of this style.


The Church suffers a great crisis that leads to the schism of the West (the papacy leaves Rome and moves to Avignon). 
In the 15th century in Italy and mainly in Florence, an important urban culture emerged, so merchants and bankers became protectors of art (patronage) and ordered buildings for themselves (palaces) or for the city (gates, walls, squares, ideal cities).  They will be followed by religious powers. 
Optimism and confidence in human potential arise.  The Renaissance man trusts in his intellectual capacities, thinks that history is no longer a whole ordeгed by the hand of God, and exalts the human being and his capacity to dominate nature. 
Humanism was a philosophy that emphasized the importance of human values ​​and achievements, distinguishing them from religious dogma. 
The interest in the recovery of Romanity arose in Italy and then spread to Europe, with the idea of ​​matching the intellectual and artistic achievements of classical antiquity.  Roman works can still be seen directly and the perspective is rediscovered.  The books of Vitruvius are reproduced and studied and Illustrated with drawings (Treaties). 
Plato’s ideal figures are recovered: the circle, square and equilateral triangle.  Hence symmetry and proportion were basic to the project and the system of ideal proportions is in this human body.  The new architecture had to be rationally understandable, formed by planes and spaces organized according to clear and decipherable numerical proportions.  With delimitations and intervals well delineated by the elements of the architectural orders of antiquity but at the same time inviting to the human delight.

Outstanding architects:

Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)

La cupola di Santa Maria del Fiore

León Battista Alberti (1404-1472)

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580)

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)


Derived from the term barrueco (imperfect pear) used in a derogatory sense by French critics in the 18th century.  Linked to the monarchy, the aristocracy, and the Church. It emerged as propaganda and glorification of power, in the formation of national states, and in the reaffirmation of the counter-reform church.  It also showed an interest in the natural environment.   
The baroque is the spatial liberation of the rules of the treatists, of conventions, of elementary geometrу, and of everything static that had already begun with the mannerists.  The structure took a back seat.  The focus was on the visual effect and decoration.  The dividing line between reality and illusion is blurred, with decorations that rise towards the sky that frame the scenes.  It is an artistic expression in which fantasy, mutability, the multiplication of Scenographic effects, asymmetry, the use of lights, water, and the movement of space intervene.  In urban planning, the idea of ​​the focal point, of the route, of the symbolic Square is born.

Outstanding architects:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)

Francesco Borromini (1599-1667)

ROCOCO (18th century)

More than a current, it is an artistic fashion born in the French courtly environments.  It is distinguished by the frivolity and superficiality of decorations faithful to themselves, with the aim of surprising and ostentation.  It begins as fashion in the warm and dreamy interior spaces, which contrast with the conditions of dirt and unhealthy exteriors.  The interiors are an ambient plaster shell subtly used to define the space and to manipulate natural lighting, but it hides the structure and detaches itself from it.  All this will raise the unease of the other social classes which the will lead the French Revolution.


The 18th century was an extraordinarily confusing and contradictory historical moment in which Neoclassicism, an Incipient Romanticism, and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution coexisted from Rococo to Neoclassicism. 
The 18th century, called the Age of Enlightenment, with the support of the aсademies, spread a regulated and neo-classical taste: Vitruvius was once again a fashionable author, although the new classicism was not strictly Roman, like Renaissance humanism, but Greco-  Latin.  After the excesses of the baroque and rococo, a radical change towards a rational architecture was experienced (it began in France around 1760), in which the dominion of the structural truth over the visual effect was recovered.  Neoclassicism was the formal expression that reflected in thе arts the intellectual principles of the Enlightenment. 
Some French architects reinvented architecture of pure geometric forms to expгess the interior function and proposed an architectural revolution being in a way pioneers of modern architecture. 


The industrialization of the western world produced an Increase in population and a migratorу phenomenon towards the cities, whlch were left insufficlent: the walls were demolished, theexpansion began with Industrial and worker neighborhoods, new construction tyрologles appealed (ships, stations, hangars, markets  , sanitary infrastructures …).  New construction materlals provided by industry appeared: cast iron and glass.  Polytechnic schools and international exhlbitions are founded ,experimenting with new materals and shapes.  The architecture of industrlalization is related to new construction typologles (pavlions, stations, …).  In rejection of the new industrial spirit that generated allenation and angulsh, a desire to evade reality anda desire for past times spread, gving rise to historlcism (Neo-Gothic, Neo-Egyptian, Neo-Romanesque …) and eхoticism (Neo-  Arabic, Neo- Indian, Neochin …) or a mixture of styles (Eclecticlsm).  In the mid-nineteenth century in response to the course of evaslon to the subconsclous and romantic born a new vision of art more realistic that evidences the conditions of society with crude reality: reallism (impresslonism and postimpresslonism).


Art Nouveau – Modernism
Under the optimistic spirit of the end of the century fostered by the well-being of the industrial bourgeoisie (Belle Epoque), an aesthetic taste was developed that broke with historicism to follow new and modern ideas.  It is characterized by clean lines, curves, and undulating inspired by nature (Organicism) and oriental art, with geometric formal simplification towards two-dimensionality (Geometric trend).  In spite of the rupture with the past, the formal expression is nourished by Japonism and romantic symbolism;  as well as the handcrafted production promoted by Ruskin and Morris do with medievalism. 

The Avant-garde
The openness to other cultures and civilizations (African, Amerindian, Australian, …) leads to a reflection on the conventionality of artistic expressions in history in order to propose new points of view: the Avant-garde (Fauvism,  Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism).  After the First World War, the avant-garde movement moved further away from the crude reality of the world and nature, seeking the provocation and ridicule of Western culture (Dadaism, surrealism, abstraction, suprematism, constructivism, neoplasticism, …).