U3-4_architecture through history

The origins:

The first humans, named Australopitecus (Austral means south) (5000000 years ago), were nomads, they didn’t need shelter and neither they knew fire. They migrated from Central Africa, an ecautorial warm area, towards the North, which made then evolve into Homo Habilis (1.9-1.6 m.y.a)

Approximately 1,9 million years ago appears Homo Erectus; the first human to handle fire, whatsmore, they were the ones that used the first ‘homes’ (huts around the fireplace).

Carolingian Empire (9 th) century)

amptempt to recover Roman art and references. religion is fiunfamental

Monumental buildings were built again such as Palace of Aachen. They have roman architecture influences. Use of roman materials

Significant contribution to western architecture: introducton of the Westwerk.

The Saxons (Otonians) 9-10 century central Europe

period of feudal anachi followed by the Otonians, a new empire (the holy roman empire)

They collected otinian reminiscences

religious buldings ispired by roman basilics

use of double aspes and westwerks

use of galleries and tribunes. Alternation between pillars and collums.

Islamic (Al Andalus) 8-13 century

developed in most of INerian Peninsula. There are still traces od

use of towers (defensie points and viewpoints)and water (waterroutes), aromatic plants

produces new architectural types : mosques, baths (hygene and religion)

Ornamentation. Repetition of geometric motives (human representetions are prohibited)

Technics such as ceramics and plaster are used

Romanesque (10-12 century)

Normans started it

the term romanesque was acquired in the 19 century because of the similarity to the roman architecture.

due to political inestability, feudal lord reinforced cities, and the palaces, that became castles.

due to evangelization, cruzades and prigrimages, this style spread through Europe. First European global style after the roman empire, though ot had plenty of variant

The christian religion expanded. Architecture became simbolic and lost realism in its decoration, sculptures…Massified buildings, use of roman vaults and semicircular archs; small openings (lack of light), thick walls, archiviolts

Gothic (12-15 century) (16 century in Spain)

another globa european style.

16 century: itlaian historian called atributed this style to the goths (barbarian), it was a despective name. It wasn’t until the 19 century until this style was valuated.

emergence of artisians and comercins (middle class) created the burgs (burgos), with this surged a promotion of art and architecture.

Use of piinted archs: allows them to build in height. Reinforce the roman vault with diagonal ribs, this allowed to build bigger fachade openings, with interiors full of lights. Tere is a huge contrast between Romanesque and Gothic.

The pointed arch made buildings slimer and higher. Horizontal and vertical forces made a dynamic equilibrium.

UNlile clssical architecture, gothic thiks structurally and not about proportions.

cathedrals are the paradigmatic building of this style. Creativity and skillness are demostrated in them. They nee

There are variations dependong on the country

needles, pinacles, external shoring, tinted glass, verticality, naturalistic sculptures and painting (they weren’t great)

civil buildings as an expression ef the new burgoise class: universities, town halls, bridges, palaces, bell towers…

Markets: flowrishing of commerce. IN valencia Lonja de la Seda, by Pere Compte, a master stonemason.

Ducal palace of Venice. City council of Bruges.

renaissance 15-16 century

Church suffers a great crisis. Division of the cristian church (catholics and protestants)

In Italy, specially in florence, surged humanism, they tried to recover classical culture and knowldege, but attached to christian religion.

Patrons allowed artist to develop great works of art as they finacnced them. this was a period of intellectual, artistic and cultural

The human being was now considered the center of life, changing the cosmovision of the last centuries (god was the center of it all). Humans can choose between good and bad.

Perspective is developed for the first time in f¡drawings and paintings

proportions and equilibrium are achieved thanks to simmetry.

Leon Battista Alberti

he has knowldedge about many disciplines, he is a humanist (common during renaissance), among them, architecture.

HE is the author of De Re Ædificatoria, 10 books regarding beauty concepts around beauty and ornament (that is secondary). To him, beauty is harmony.

He built around Itly, and his work are oriented to proportion, the essence of architecture.

He clustered the three classic orders of pilasters in the remodelation of the Rucellai palace in Florence.

Alberti is the author of Santa Maria Novella, also in Florence, combinig gothic and new classical elements just like in The Malatestian Temple.


some of the most inportant works of this period are:

Laurenziana library (1524), Palazzo del Te (1525-1534) or the Church of the Gesù (1568-1580)

this is an intermediate period of transition between Renaissance and Barroque, maintaining the classical norms, but leavig gap for expression, variations and derivations.

Andrea Palladio

Andrea Palladio theorist, architect is the author of «I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura», which study classical roman architecture, analyliss of classical orders and a campilation of his own works.

He is a prolific architect who based his works in numerical proportion, characterised by the simplicity of the floor plan. For example, villa Rotonda is symetrical. He was innovative, as he used domes in private buildnigs (they were only used in churches, mainly)


Michelangelo Buonarotti was a humanist, one of the greatest artists of all time. Architect, painter and sculptor, his works still impress. He represesnt the transition from reinassance to barroque, mannerism.

the Laurenzian library is compounded by a hall and a room, to save the height, he used stairs with right angles and curves.


Its name comes from barrueco, an imperfect pearl. It was despective at first, used by the french crytics during the 18 century.

This is a style linked to the privileged classes, used as propaganda and to glorify their power.

This architecture has an interest in nature, they use moduled spaces, play with light and color to create sensual spaces.

With the arrival of barroque, comes the liberation of the space, the rules and conventions. The symetry and equilibrium of Renaissance leave space for visual effects and decoration.

In this period were born the ideas of focal points, routes and the symboic square.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini 1598 -1680

Italian architect, sculotor and painter,. heir of michelangelo’s scuptural srtength. He was protected and won the favour of 7 popes, making many works with recognition and fame.

He persues emotional impact with his architectures.

he is a fresco illusionist, light has a main role, creating contrasts between light and dark.

He designed the square of San Pietro del Vaticano, creating a trapezodial form. He wanted to represent the hug of the church to the christians. He also designed the Baldaquino and the Chair of San Peter

Francesco Borromini

The most original architect of this period. His works were based on simple geometric elements.

In San Ivo alla Sapienza bernini plays with triangles and circles, creating a unique space.

Rococo 18th century

this is an artistic fashion more than a current. Works of this period are charecterized by superficiality, ostentation, decorations and horror vacui.

The contrast betweeb dreamy interior and musty, dirty exteriors, this styles detaches from the structure and focuses on ornament and decortions.

Neoclassicism 18th Century – (19th)

The 19 century was one of confussion and contradictions, with neocassicism, and romanticism, but also barroque and rococo.

With a trend to objective knowldege during the Enlightment comes an artistic trend that comes back to classical forms and equilibrium. With the spread of academies, rules were followed in art, being racional architecture the main trend during this period.

Neoclassicism was linked to the idea of education and public services.

The most representative architects of this period were Etienne-Louis Boullée and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux

19th century

Industralization produced an increase on the population and migration to the cities. New construction typoligies were born, cities grew larger and worker neibourhoods were created.

glass and cast iron appeared allowing to build innovative structures.

International exhibitions were popular, creating new architeccture for this propouse.

As a response to industrialism, Romanticism was born, prioritasing emotion over everythig else. THere was a desire of evassion of the not-so-comforting realty, wich led to art inspired by exoticness. An interest by the remote past and orientalism was created.

Also as a response to Romanticism, realism was born, representing reality as it was, followed by impressionism and post-imressionism.

20th century

With the well being of the bourgeoise, new aesthetics were born. They broke with the historicism and developed innovative forms, characterised by clean lines, curves and inpiration in nature. New point of view in art were born. They broke with convencionalism, styles such as fauvism, cubism or expresionism were part of the Avant-Garde.

After WWI, this styles progressed and they focused on the ridiculization of western culture (dadaism, surrealism…) and abstraction (suprematism, neoplasticism…)

Art Nouveau – Modernisme

This style hs plenty of names according to the country (as each region has its own expression of Art Nouveau). This style was pretty short in time due to its high cost.

It has special relevance in the Valencian Community (Estación del Norte, Mercado Central, Colon Market…)

Antoni Gaudi is the most important artist of Catalonian Modernisme; developing a personal style while maintaining the main characteristics of this style. Some of his most recognised works are Casa Batlló, Parc Güell, El Capricho…

Other important modernists were Victor Horta, William Morris or Charles Mackintosh

Expressionism 1910 – 1924

with the creation of the camera, art did’t focus anymore in realism. Expresionism focuses on the expression itsefl, deforming reality and using color as a vehicle to transmit emotion. An example of expressionist architecture is The Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund Exhibition of Cologne (1914) by Bruno Taut

Cubism, Futurism Early 20th century

While in painting cubisim used simultaneous perspectives, in architecture this transformed in the elimitation of the boundaries between interios and exteriors, being popularised the use of glass

Futurism in architecture translates into thev»movement» and mutation of an architectural space in time, where the technology of machines, the horizontal and oblique lines that express speed and movement play a great role
(Antonio Sant’Elia).

Constructivism 1917 – 1930

Constructivism is a style linked to russian comunism. It is characterized by the rejection of decorations and ornaments, adopting geometric abstraction as the main form of expression. This buildings were simple, diaphanus, made with cheap materials.

Neoplasticism (De Stijl)1917 – 1942

Both in architecture and other artistic disciplines, Neooplaticism uses orthogonal sistems and planes of pure color, as they thought reality culd be build up from this few elements, as they were looking for reality’s essence (cosmic reticule).

the most representative artists were Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg (painting) and Gerrit Rietveld (architecture and furniture design).

Modernism 1919-1933

movement ruled by racionalism and functionality. Form followed function.

The Bauhaus was a design school that wanted to unify mass production and the individuality provided by the artist. Their proncoples spread after WWII as a movement known as international style.

Le Corbusier pints out the five principles of modern architecture: pilotis, free floor plan, free façade, continuous windows, roof-garden.

Mies van der Rohe ads texture and color to the five principles developed by Le Corbusier

Contemporary Architecture 1950-2021

There is a dicotomy in the style of the 1950’s: continuity or revision. Complexity of proposals of the beggining of the century is revealed. The continuists thought of architecture as a sculptural object, but the revisionists challenged the rational functionality, as they tought it shoud be adapted to human needs and culture.

Architecture since the 1960’s

With theoretical and practical experimentation comes a time of revolutions, utopias and proposals. It is impossible to classify all the architecture in ine term, but this are some of the movements that have developed since that time: deconstrutivism, high-tech, neo-brutalism, biomorphism or postmodernism.