Throughout the past, people have developed distinctive types of architecture, manifesting culture, geographical attributes, and financial influence. These styles are distinguished by the attributes that contribute to representing a building or structure. Elements that can be considered while identifying these styles include the form, the process of construction, materials used, geographical influence, etc. Many traces help in the identification as they are influenced by the time that they are built-in and thus reflect considerable features. As time evolves, each style is built on another with the advancement in each feature and also unfolding of new ideas. Here are 15 styles and their characteristics that are briefly outlined to help assimilate the style.

1. Modern Architecture

Timeline: 1920 – 2000 century   

Precedent: Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright, USA

Modern Architecture is an architectural style that is formulated on new and ingenious technologies of construction, this style follows the principle of form follows function. Some major characteristics can assist in identifying the structures that represent Modern Architecture namely, clean lines in the type of building form and will have no or minimal decorative (ornament) elements. Secondly, the structural focus is on the massing that is low with horizontal planes and broad designs. Finally, there is ample use of glass that allows the collaboration of natural light with the design. There are a few more attributes that may assist in identifying like the emphasis on rectangular forms, the use of modern materials like exposed concrete, huge column-free spaces, steel columns, etc. There is a visibly innovative use of brick, stone, and wood that reflect their natural feature. To sum up, the interior spaces complement the site at its best with the use of modern materials and technology.


2. Gothic Architecture

Timeline: 12th – 17th century

Precedent: Cologne Cathedral, Germany

Gothic style is one of the most unique architectural movements due to the aesthetically decorated and conceptually pre-dominant characteristics. Though the Gothic style appears to be a fresh and original form of architecture, the characteristic that has become a form of identification of the style is influenced by many other styles. The most significant feature is that value to the height and the implementation of very intricate aesthetics. This can be seen in the churches, cathedrals, and many similar structures that are built majorly in Europe and around. The style evolved with key characteristics of pointed arches, ribbed vaulted ceilings, flying buttresses, and large stained-glass windows which are also vital features to identify the style.


3. Neoclassical Architecture

Timeline: 18th to early 19th century

Precedent: White House, Washington DC

Neoclassical Architecture showcases the character traits of Greek and Roman Architecture. The most primarily noticeable attribute of Neoclassical Architecture is the scale of the buildings which is massive, there is a recognizable use of simple geometric forms and dramatic columns. There are huge lavish yet simple walls used as separation elements with symmetrical floorplans. To follow the unbuilt space there are gardens around the structure that go along with geometric patterns. These are a few of the individual features of Neoclassical Architecture that are pre-dominantly noticeable.


4. Classical Architecture

Timeline: 3rd -5th Century

Precedent: Parthenon, Athens, Greece

Classical Architecture encloses all architecture that is gleaned from the Greeks and Romans. The use of specific materials is observed in classical architecture, attractive and durable stones such as marble are widely used, and later the use of brick and concrete is also beheld. Evolved from timber origins the construction involves posts and beams, i.e. the structure is high-structured. There was a versatile use of Orders that are developed in time and represent different styles. Moreover, these elements are symmetrical, i.e., spaces evenly and are in proportion.


5. Vernacular Architecture

Timeline: Started in 1800

Precedent: Traditional Batak House, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Vernacular Architecture is classified by the ply of local materials and understanding. Most of this is done without any professional guidance or supervision and belongs to a specific location and time. The architecture vitally revolves around the function of the building type and then over time gets tailored to other features such as the available skilled workforce and their local technology of construction. The local culture impacts the building form as the family size varies, the use of the structure, local customs, and their social conditions. The edge of Vernacular Architecture is that since locally available materials and laborers are used the structure becomes energy-efficient and also sustainable. To summarize, Vernacular Architecture connects well with the people and the local environment as it is designed and built specifically in those conditions to perform well.


6. Romanesque Architecture

Timeline: 1000-1150

 Precedent: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

Romanesque Architecture is a fusion with a major influence of Roman Architecture and some from the Byzantine. There is a resemblance to several characteristics such as materials, the planning style, and the use of round arches in both styles. There is a sense of harmony that is observed in the proportions of design elements, for example, walls and pillars are thick and heavy balanced with small windows. To support the structure of the rood there is a use of aches, also stone barrel vaults are one of the attributes of Romanesque Architecture. Decorative elements such as blind arches are widely spotted especially in the exteriors. In terms of planning, section crossing is designed giving the floor plan a cross arrangement. To conclude, Romanesque Architecture has combined features and is famous for its massive structures.


7. Victorian Architecture

Timeline: mid-to-late 19th century

Precedent: Royal Albert Hall, London

Victorian Architecture is an era more than a style that spanned for over 60 years. There is a combination of multiple styles that determine the attributes of Victorian Architecture. Though there is a mixture of different styles there a few features that are visible that can help in spotting a Victorian structure. For instance, exposed bricks in the exterior are colorfully painted and a steeply pitched roof is designed. There is an asymmetry in the facade and includes gardens in the plan. The interior is grand and looks massive due to the magnificent staircases and high ceilings. In terms of materials, wood paneling is used along with geometric tiles and stained glass windows. These are a few features out of many more that can be observed in Victorian Architecture.


8. Renaissance Architecture

Timeline: early 15th -17th century

Precedent: St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Renaissance style of architecture is inspired by the Romans and Greeks and altered to match the current style then. Versatility is observed in this style, the architects in this period started thinking out of the box, for instance, and they thought in the direction of perspectives and geometry and not just do master drawings. The most prominent feature in the planning is that majority of them are symmetrical in shape namely, square or rectangle. In the continuity, the front façade also showcases symmetry across the vertical axis, along with Roman columns. Inspired by the use of the style of semi-circular arches and barreled vaults are seen frequently. Furthermore, the previously left open ceilings got covered with flat ceilings. For large structure roofs, domes are seen that are huge and externally visible. Even though the Renaissance style was inspired, yet it has its features that can aid in categorizing a structure.


9. Islamic Architecture

Timeline: 7th -8th century

Precedent: Taj Mahal, India

Islamic Architecture is known to be culturally remarkable as the structure designs manifest Muslim morals religious style and display the rich history through their design elements. This style certainly has some influence from Roman, Persian, and Indian styles, but also demonstrates some unique geometric and ornamental characteristics. There are several underlying characteristics, to begin with, minarets are seen next to many mosques which serve the purpose of calling the worshippers for the prayer as the structure is elevated. Magnificent domes are incorporated in the designs over a square or rectangular room. Ornamentation is an element that can be observed to be implemented through using tiles for lavish interiors along with patterns in brickwork, some calligraphy, and unique kaleidoscopic stones. Gigantic structures with different types of vaults and arches are designed. It would not be wrong to say that Islamic architecture is one of the styles whose building traditions are celebrated. 


10. Byzantine Architecture

Timeline: 1400- 1453

Precedent: Hagia Sophia, Turkey

Several cultural features together determine the architectural characteristics of Byzantine Architecture. Byzantine style evolved from designing churches for public gatherings which included large open spaces and high walls, cross-in-square type of planning, and the escalated use of ornamentation in architecture. The most prominent characteristic of Byzantine architecture is the use of hemispheric roofs over a square structure. The dome and the room are connected by pendentives and squinches. Columns were made of marble and ceilings were often coffered using gold. This culture and style persisted longer in some of the orthodox countries like Russia and Romania planting a seed of architecture schools.


11. DE constructivism

Timeline: 1980 – present

Precedent: Walk Disney Concert Hall, US

DE constructivism translates to demolishing an existing structure to build on the same land. Though structural faults/changes or rebel were a few reasons for DE constructivism, rebellion against any social dilemma was not a movement. This style allows the designer to experiment with forms, volumes, and different possible design solutions on the same piece of land. Smooth exteriors of abstract nature and unrelated forms define the features of DE constructivism. Large windows with hidden frames to give a seamless look are observed also the door frames are simple and made of metal. Moreover, DE constructivism characterizes a design style that challenges the traditional design styles and ideas giving an essence of a positive rebel with an optimistic design approach.


12. Sustainable Architecture

Timeline: 1987- present

Precedent: Hanging Gardens, One Central Park, Sydney.

Sustainable Architecture is to conceive designs that are environmental- responsible and where resources are used efficiently. Structures that are designed under the principles of sustainability have a comparatively lesser impact on the environment also being energy efficient. Every aspect of the process of construction determines the sustainability of a structure which includes

  • Active and passive design strategies
  • Use of renewable energy systems
  • Use of green building materials
  • Landscaping choices and,
  • Stormwater management

Initially known as ‘solar architecture’, now popular as ‘Sustainable Architecture, follows 5 basic principles listed by the United Nations, namely

  • Nontoxic interior environment,
  • Recourse efficiency
  • Use of eco-friendly materials
  • Environmental form, i.e. using a form that relates to the site and,
  • Good design, i.e. efficient use of space.

To sum up, sustainable architecture is a step to working towards a higher and better quality of life and environment.

Sustainable Architecture

13. Contemporary Architecture

Timeline: 2000- present

Precedent: The Shard, by Renzo Piano, London

There are no particular attributes that help in determining a structure to be of contemporary style. There is an evident modern twist to the planning, form, and execution which can be classified as contemporary Architecture. This style involves designs with precision and speed which is possible because of this new age computer software and high-level construction technology. The expressiveness of the design and form is one of the vital components of the style making the structure noticeable and is appreciated. There is a use of various materials combines and there is an emphasis on the aesthetic appearance making it unique and rich. To sum up, contemporary style strives to pick itself out from conventional architecture through its innovative ideas.

Contemporary Architecture

14. Post-Modern Architecture

Timeline: 1960-2000

Precedent: Guggenheim Museum Building, Spain

Post-Modern Architecture commenced in response to the Modern Architecture to restore the history and culture related to the buildings that were being demolished. Where modernism showcases extensive renovations, post-modernism on the other hand gave free-thinking to designers for conceptual and surrounding environmental considerations to also include the adjacent old building with the new design. Characteristics that changed the public opinion about postmodern architecture and help it spread were the use of bright colours that made the structure look interesting and attracted people. Moreover creating eye-catchy designs that have a playful character was a prominent feature. There was a mix of classical architecture with a modern twist which is a striking character. To attract more people the designs included unusual shapes and a variety of materials were used to create an effect. To sum up, post-modern architecture granted designers to take inspiration from other styles and innovate artistically expressive structures that incorporate the adjacent structure making it interesting and visually appealing.

Post-Modern Architecture

15. High-Tech Architecture

Timeline: 1970 – present

Precedent: Turning Torso, Sweden.

High-tech is a broader aspect of post-modernism that is influenced by the new advanced technology. New construction materials, techniques, technology, concept, and design manipulation were the aspects used for marketing the style. Characterized by various features high-tech architecture majorly showcases the use of advanced building technology and the use of new technical equipment. Design manipulation in interiors is a very profitable solution that gives flexibility in the space designing by having partitions as required. Structural elements in this style are uniquely included in the design and are displayed as a design element and not concealed. The use of colours is spotted to trace particular parts or areas of the structure. With the advancing technology, lightweight materials are used more often, for instance, the use of steel and glass increased substantially. Moreover, high-tech architecture exhibits some phenomenal structures that manifest striking eye-catchy designs.

High-Tech Architecture


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