Architecture - Term Overview

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Architecture is the art and technique of conceiving, designing and constructing buildings that function as a habitat for human beings, whether they are homes, places of work, recreation or memorials. The term comes from ancient Greek, formed by the words arch - ("chief, authority") and techné ("creation, construction"), from which it follows that it's the art of construction.

In a strict sense, architecture is inherent in human civilization and can't escape from it while living in society. When the human being builds a wooden hut to shelter from the elements, when he paves the ground to erect a plaza with the statues of his martyrs on top, when he designs a temple with which to worship his gods, or when he erects an immense tower of offices, the man puts his architectural knowledge into practice.

The various styles and modes of architecture in human history, in fact, reflect many of the conditions and moments of his thinking, whether in artistic or pragmatic terms. In fact, its knowledge is based on three fundamental principles: beauty, firmness and usefulness.

At the same time, architecture has been included among the Fine Arts of humanity, along with painting, literature, music, sculpture, dance, cinema, photography and comics.

History of architecture

The first treatise on architectural knowledge comes from the 1st century BC and is about the Architecture of the Roman Vitruvian. However, the endeavor to build beautiful, useful, and durable structures and environments far predates this age of mankind. The great works of ancient cultures that surprise today with their workmanship, such as the pyramids of Egypt, the Mesoamerican stone cities, the temples of Greco-Roman antiquity or the Christian dwellings of Cappadocia, are just some proofs of this.

Ancient, medieval and modern architecture exhibits the aesthetic methods and tendencies of the different cultures that gave rise to it. For example, medieval European architecture shows the dominance of the Christian religion and obscurantism, while the Renaissance reveals the renovating and disruptive effort that prevailed at the time.

Later, with the advent of industrialization and the discovery of new materials, architecture would leap huge forward and nurture new knowledge and technologies, which would during the twentieth century started a real urban explosion and architectural along and wide of the world, and the appearance of totally original styles of architecture, disconnected with tradition and built heritage.

Types of architecture

Architecture can be studied and classified from numerous points of view, such as historical, cultural or functional. Broadly, let's define the following three classifications:

According to its functionality; That is, according to the purpose with which it's built.

  • Religious architecture: Those whose works have functions of worship, such as churches, temples, mystical monuments, etc.
  • Military architecture: That which is proposed buildings for strategic, tactical or defensive use, such as castles, walls, barracks, etc.
  • Civil architecture: One that conceives structures and spaces for the use of ordinary citizens: from houses and buildings, to squares and civic monuments or cultural spaces ( theaters, libraries, schools, etc.).

According to your construction technique; This is, according to the criteria that governs the construction.

  • Stylistic or historical architecture: The one that connects with the tradition from which it comes and that has produced traditional, durable pieces, using inherited methods and imageries.
  • Popular architecture: Constructions made by the people themselves, such as craftsmen or people of little education, using natural materials and generally without greater aspirations for greatness.
  • Common or vulgar architecture: That carried out by professionals in the area obeying a purely pragmatic criterion, that is, of use and functionality, without taking into account an architectural tradition.

According to its historical period; As many architectural styles can be named as there are historical moments and contexts, that is, hundreds of them. In the West, the three most recognizable are:

  • Roman architecture: That typical of the Roman Empire and its Greek heritage, was characterized by great functionality and logic, which didn't neglect the reasons for its important religious world.
  • Baroque architecture: Characterized by the great abundance of details and ornaments, it's typical of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe and Latin America.
  • Neoclassical architecture: Typical of the European 18th century, it represented a return to the classical values ​​of Greco-Roman antiquity, hand in hand with the newly discovered faith in reason and human enlightenment.

Architecture and urbanism

Urban planning is a discipline very close to architecture and which is responsible for the understanding, conceptualization and improvement of cities.

Uses the geography as a key tool to ensure the most suitable design not only of buildings and public spaces, but roads and systems shift to better take advantage of the relief to the climate and thus address the social and cultural needs of the population. As will be seen, it has many points of contact with architecture, and they are usually studied together.

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