The term architecture was used by the ancient Egyptians to describe the construction of their tombs, and by the Romans for their buildings and monuments, but its modern form was initiated by the Middle Ages. In other words, architecture is the art of building or designing buildings for practical, religious or aesthetical purposes.
As the name itself suggests, this is a new sub-field of engineering, as opposed to architecture, which is a more philosophical, artistic and social concept. In today’s terms, architecture can be viewed as a multi-disciplinary and applied science, because of the different aspects of design it involves: science, mathematics, engineering, design, art, design science, research, psychology, urbanism and sustainability.
The Neolithic Revolution and the birth of architecture.
It all started with the Neolithic Revolution, as archaeologists have now labelled the transition from the Stone Age to the Metal Age, when the first farming settlements appeared. This is when people began to cultivate crops rather than hunt for wild animals – a step that, alongside the invention of the bow and arrow, helped expand human civilization.
As a consequence of this radical change, architecture as an artistic activity became a mainstay of civilizations and the building of temples, tombs, houses, cities, and other structures emerged as a need. The first examples of architecture, which were simple and functional, were mainly found in Anatolia from approximately 7,000 years ago, and by 5,000 BC, settlements had started being constructed along with monuments and tombs.
The birth of architecture is linked to these first human settlements, which gradually evolved into villages, towns and cities. Even though we might associate all of these sites with the term ‘architecture’, at the time this was not the case, as buildings were still made of wood and stone.
The origin of stone is the very first evidence to come to mind when we think about architecture, but it’s the Egyptian pyramids that are usually associated with the birth of architecture. While the pyramids of the pharaohs were monuments and tombs, it was actually the pharaohs themselves who started to design them; they were not just big rocks – that’s not the true reason why they are so famous.
In ancient Egypt, architecture was considered a divine responsibility, and temples, palaces and pyramids were built by the pharaohs and their ruling classes as a symbol of their power and authority. In fact, during the Middle Ages, the construction of Gothic cathedrals and castles were the only examples of architecture that could be regarded as such and thus it became a common belief that the beginning of architecture dates from the Late Middle Ages.
The evolution of architecture during the Bronze and Iron Ages.
The architecture of the Bronze and Iron Ages was characterized by two distinct trends. The first was a move towards more complex and centralized structures. This can be seen in the construction of megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge and the development of cities such as Ur. The second trend was a move towards more diverse and decentralized structures. This can be seen in the rise of hillforts and the growth of trade and commerce.
The Bronze Age was a time of great change in the architectural landscape. One of the most significant developments was the rise of megalithic monuments. These massive structures, built from huge stones, were used for religious ceremonies and as burial sites for elite members of society. Another significant development was the rise of cities. With the advent of agriculture, cities began to grow in size and number. This led to the development of new architectural styles, such as the stepped pyramid, which were designed to accommodate the needs of a growing population.
The Iron Age saw a continuation of the trend towards more complex and centralized structures. One of the most impressive examples of this is the Great Wall of China, which was built to protect the country from invaders. However, there was also a move towards more diverse and decentralized structures during this period. This can be seen in the growth of trade and commerce, which led to the construction of marketplaces and other public spaces.
The rise of the classical civilizations and the impact of their architecture.
Alongside the birth of architecture, there was also the rise of the classical civilizations, mainly from the Greco-Roman world, and of their corresponding architecture, which became the dominant style of the Middle Ages. The Greek and Roman civilizations started as early as the 10th century BC, and continued to evolve their techniques of trade, navigation, mathematics, literature, art, government, as well as the building of public works, temples, houses, and other structures.
The classical buildings of the Greco-Roman era consist mainly of temples. Temples are usually very large edifices, which are often rectangular-shaped and they were often located on large hilltops, sometimes on the exact peak of a mountain, where they also served as sacred burial sites. The temples were important structures in antiquity because they represented the gods to the people, so they had to be perfect: they had to be made of marble, had to have a sacred altar at the center, and had to be decorated with beautiful and meaningful artwork – all of these requirements had to be respected and followed, otherwise people could lose their faith and become atheists.
The Middle Ages and the Gothic style of architecture.
The Middle Ages brought a change in how houses were built, and for the most of the time they were no longer made of wood, but of stone. This was the case of Gothic architecture, which, due to its simple, geometrical and symmetrical design, was a simple and practical style of construction. It was used mainly to build houses, while there were other purposes, like cathedrals, castles, and bridges.
This architectural style was also used as a symbol of power and authority. After the fall of the Roman Empire (in 476 AD) and its decline, medieval kings and lords looked for ways to assert their power, and thus they started using the Gothic style, which became a visual expression, as well as the idea, of all the virtues they wanted to project.
The use of the Gothic style spread to the entire Western world, and it took a few centuries to become the official, preferred and most preferred architectural style. The use of the Gothic style was then considered by the nobility as a mark of power and status.
The Renaissance and the rebirth of classical architecture.
After the Middle Ages arrived, one of the most important humanistic revolutions of all times, the Renaissance. It was in Europe, where classical rules of architecture were still followed, but in a much more detailed way, and as a consequence there were a lot of new developments.
With this new style of architecture, which was based on the classical model, there was a need to explain the changes that had occurred in art and literature during the Middle Ages, and thus the Renaissance was born. The classical architecture which had been replaced by the Gothic style, suddenly found itself in a stronger position due to the popularity of the Renaissance movement.
The Renaissance in architecture led to the creation and the use of new materials for the construction of houses, like brick and cement, and also to the idea of architecture as a scientific, technological and natural form, for the Renaissance was closely associated with science and philosophy.
The Baroque period and the emergence of new architectural styles.
The Baroque period of architecture began in the early 16th century and became especially popular in the Southern and Western Europe: it was characterized by great attention to both style and decoration. This was the case of the Italian Baroque (1600-1750), of which the biggest examples are the Church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, in Rome, and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria, in Rome.
The Baroque style was also used as an expression of power and authority, and thus there were other purposes for which it was used, like the construction of palaces and churches.
Other examples of Baroque architecture in the Southern and Western Europe are:
St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome
The Monastery of Calvar, in Spain
La Sagrada Familia, in Spain
The Church of the Gesu in Rome
The Roman Catholic Church in Florence
The Royal Palaces in Versailles and Fontainebleau
Houses in Amsterdam and other cities of Northern and Western Europe
The Modern Age and the evolution of architecture.
With the evolution of architecture, came many changes in styles. In the Modern Age came the Industrial Era and the Industrial Revolution, whose effects can be seen in the 19th century, and especially in the 20th century:
the first half of the 19th century was associated with the revival of architecture
the second half of the 19th century saw the development of Gothic Revivalism
The early 20th century saw the use of the Art Deco style
The Modern Age also saw the creation of new materials like the reinforced concrete, which was developed by the Austrian architect, Friedrich Neuhaus, after being inspired by the structures that consisted of wooden piles, which were found in the harbor of Trieste.
The Metaverse and the future of architecture.
Architecture has been continuously evolving since its creation; it’s not a static, fixed idea – it’s a living, changing form.
Architecture today has the power to transform urban environments, because it offers a way to build in harmony with nature. Due to its continuous change, it can be adapted to every environment, and thus be considered as a tool for sustainability. This is part of its appeal: the fact that it can be used to create sustainable, eco-friendly buildings.
The Metaverse is the next step in the evolution of architecture. The Metaverse is a virtual world that will be created by humans and it will be completely immersive. It will be a place where everyone can be whoever they want to be, and where they can do anything they want to do.
The Metaverse will be the next step in the evolution of architecture because it will allow architects to design and build virtual structures, which will be sustainable and eco-friendly. This is the future of architecture: the Metaverse.
In conclusion, architecture has come a long way since the Neolithic Revolution. It has undergone many changes, and it will continue to change in the future. The Metaverse is the next step in the evolution of architecture, and it will allow architects to design and build sustainable, eco-friendly buildings.