A Quick and Dirty Guide to Architectural Design Styles (TIMELINE)

Architecture is awesome. The idea of designing places in which we live and work fascinates me so much so that I would have probably attempted some sort of career with it if I wasn’t absolutely retarded at math.

I thought it might be cool/helpful/interesting/whatever to explain an overview of the more popular architectural styles throughout history.

Known for temples, open air theaters, rectangular buildings, statues and columns. Had defined, elegant proportions uncomplicated by colors and heavy mixing of materials. Think Disney’s rendition of Hercules.


The use of the arch and improvements with concrete led to beautiful aqueducts and bridge structures. Roman architecture featured the creation of dome ceilings for large public spaces. The style was inherently similar to greek architecture except the Romans had the coliseum. Instantly more badass.


This style was big during the medieval period. Think of those big old cathedrals that give off an impending sense of doom. Also castles, abbeys and university buildings. Powerful, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses (hehe) to emphasize themes of verticality. Basically, pointy and sharp looking buildings.


The renaissance architectural styles were very unimaginative. It was a revival and development of greek and roman ideas. This style concentrated on lots of symmetry, proportion, geometry, columns, arches, domes, etc. Basically just elements from previous architectural styles redone to serve new purposes.


Baroque architecture was all about grandeur. Rich dudes had these buildings built to impress visitors and express power. The rules of this architectural style were rigid, symmetrical and dramatic. But overall pretty whatever if you ask me.


If baroque is the equivalent of a stern and overbearing father, Rococo is the young and whimsical daughter. Rococo style was a reaction to the harshness of the baroque. It was much more graceful and fun. Think pastels, asymmetry, playfulness, elegance and romance. Those frenchies were oh-so-sweet.


The neoclassical architectural style is exactly what it’s name entails. Derived from classical greek and roman architecture, the neoclassical emphasized the flat wall rather than the ornamental drama of the baroque. Basically, a more boring version of everything.


The victorian era of architecture included a lot of revivals of historic styles, that together created eclectic mixes of styles. Victorian architecture had these older elements combined with the newness of influences from the Middle East and Asia. Steel was also incorporated as a new technology, even though the houses looked so similar to everything that came before them. So essentially, these buildings had new methods of construction but chose to be old-fashioned. How very Wes Anderson of them.


The arts and crafts era of architectural design is very ‘cute’ to me. It represented a return to traditional craftsmanship ideologies and folky decors. Essentially, a bunch of anti-industrial weenies started calling for economic and social reform as a reaction to the poor condition of decorative arts during this time period. But it’s still cute. Examples are bungalow style houses, and architecture that is simple in form that has emphasis on the quality of materials and structure.


If you know me at all, you know I love art deco. This architecture combines traditional craft designs (leftovers from the arts and crafts houses) with machine and industry. Think ornamentation, hearty color schemes and fierce geometry. Natural forms are secondary to technologically sharp edges. Art deco represents luxury, progress, fabulous-ness (me) and contains elements like chevrons, polygons and sunbursts.


International style began to occur during the modernist architecture period (where form ALWAYS follows function). The purpose of this movement was to break with tradition and design simple, chic buildings without pomp and doodle. Think glass facades, steel supports, logical designs. Basically buildings that embrace “the box”. Uncluttered minimalism.


Postmodernist architecture is pretty cool because it marked the new return of the ornamental features. Formal vertical lines were replaced with a collaboration of aesthetic variety. Architects readopted the idea of form without function (because damn that gets boring) and reproached the human need for visual comforts. Postmodernist architecture gave buildings personalities and added an experience factor for the people visiting these buildings.


We’re still involved in the sustainable ‘green’ architectural movement. These building designs stem (PUN!!!!) from a desire to lesson the awful environmental impacts of a building. For example, trends have led to innovative use of greener materials, new energy sources and smaller space taken up by the buildings. Think solar panels. Hippies unite!


Cool and stuff.