A discussion on the history of architecture is one that attempts to trace the tenets, regions and reasons that played a part in shaping what we regard as the field of architecture today. Therefore, when writing an opinion piece on architectural history, the use of facts, figures and landmark case studies is important to the development of your essay.
In this article, some interesting facts on the history of architecture will be shared to help students and even aspiring novelist truly understand the factors that drove man into creating stable structures for diverse human and animal use.
- Architecture as we know it began in the Neolithic Era. Cultural studies backed up by excavated ancient dwellings pin-point the Neolithic era, approximately around 10,000 BC, as the period in which man began to make architectural structures using a combination of wood and stone. The next architectural innovation occurred around 3,000 BC in Mesopotamia and this was the development of bricks from mud for the construction of buildings.
- Ancient architecture was heavily influenced by religion. In ancient Egypt as well as other early societies, the belief in a series of omnipotent gods was present and these societies attempted to garner favour from their gods by building architectural monuments in their honour. Thus the most important buildings and architectural feats of the ancient worlds were usually testaments to the gods.
- The roman architectural revolution is the most important influence on modern architecture. The Roman architectural revolution otherwise known as the concrete revolution involved the concept of urban planning, the use of concrete and the creation of structures such as arches, vaults and domes for the first time. These new phenomenon ended up been passed through generations and are still been put to use in the modern architectural age. During the Roman architectural revolution, amphitheatres, aqueducts, dams and harbours were conceived and built for the first time.
- Persian architecture influenced Islamic architecture. The Persian Empire—with its capital located in modern day Iran—has been accredited as one of the cradles of civilization by UNESCO. In terms of architecture, the Islamic architecture of modern day Iran draws a majority of its inspiration from its pre-Islamic history dominated by Persia. The periods of the Parthians and Sassanid rule led to architectural revolutions such as the use of barrel-vaulted chambers, domes and tall columns to design regal buildings. These innovations can be seen in a majority of the great mosques that have been built in Asia.
- Chinese Architecture was influenced by the Chinese Culture and remains unchanged. The Chinese culture has largely influenced its architecture for over 4,000 years. The use of bilateral symmetry which represents balance dominates Chinese architecture. Unsurprisingly, this architectural style has gone on to influence architecture in most of Eastern Asia for the last 2,000 years. With Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture taking their inspiration from Chinese architectural styles, patterns and designs. Although western influences continue to seep into the Chinese culture, its architectural patterns still remain unchanged.
- The Incan culture and architecture is credited for building the first suspension bridges. The Incas became the predominant tribe in South America due to a combination of reasons and an extensive road system was one of them. The Inca rope bridges which were used to cross valleys can be considered as the world’s first suspension bridges. The Incas were also known to be skilled stone cutters whose masonry used no mortar to keep structures standing together.
- Medieval architecture was generally built for defence. Medieval architecture were the building patterns common in medieval Europe and the surviving structures from that period showed that defending oneself from enemies played an important role in defining its architecture. Architecture from this period are characterised by castle’s fortified walls, battlements and cross-shaped windows which all served as both defensive and offensive shelters against invaders.
- Gothic architecture emphasis on verticality and was inspired by religion. The Gothic architectural style was founded in France during the 11th and 12th century. It heralded the use of pointed arches, flying buttresses, clustered columns, skeletal stone structures and glass to build beautiful cathedrals. These advances in architecture led communities all over Europe to build taller cathedrals than what was previously seen in the pre-roman era. To achieve this, architects in the gothic era made use of all spires, columns and arches to elongate gothic structures.
- The Italians are credited as the fathers of renaissance architecture. In architecture, the renaissance refers to the Italian renaissance which occurred in the 14th century and was revolutionary due to its emphasis on ‘perspective’ rather than geometry to the building of structures. The focus on perspective allowed people to experience architecture through a new understanding of space and the projection of images. The Italian renaissance quickly spread across Europe and by the 16th century had influenced the architectural styles of the entire continent.
- The Aksumite style influenced early African architecture. African architecture has been diverse through the years from Ancient Egypt to Ethiopia and although religion played a huge role in defining ancient Egyptian architecture, the Aksumite culture also played a huge role in defining other African architecture. Aksumite architecture was prevalent in Ethiopia and it made use of wood and stone alternatively to build masterpieces. By the 8th century, multi-storey towers had been built in Africa due to Aksumite architectural advancements. Over the years, colonial architecture became the prevalent force in African architecture and this lead to the incorporation of European and Arabic influences into African architecture.
Here we come to the end of the 10 interesting facts on the history of architecture which can be used as the basis of your opinion essay. For further reading, it is recommended that you go through other supporting materials on writing an essay such as 20 topics for an opinion essay on the history of architecture as well as a simple guide on writing a solid opinion essay on the history of architecture.
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Di Castro, A. & Hope, C. & Parr, B. (n.d.). Housing and Habitat in the Ancient Mediterranean.
Schneider, T. (2011). An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion. 1st ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.
Roberts, E. (1977). Moulding Analysis and Architectural Research: The Late Middle Ages. Architectural History, 20, p.5.
Murray, P. & Murray, L. (1996). The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. 1st ed. Oxford: New York.
Güle&ç, A. and Tulun, T. (1996). Studies of Old Mortars and Plasters from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Period of Anatolia. Architectural Science Review, 39(1), pp.3-13.
Newman, J. (1992). Inigo Jones’s Architectural Education before 1614. Architectural History, 35, p.18.