Influences of Western Architecture over time
The influences that have been the most dominant in Western architecture seem always to have been driven by the desire to solve problems. This approach is what has enabled architects and designers to push the boundaries of possibilities, from the Bronze Age to the present day. These are just some of the influences that have shaped Western architecture over time.
Bronze Age cultures
Metalworking was the great evolution in architecture during the Bronze Age and this had a huge impact on the developments that were to follow. However, this wasn’t the only change taking place at this time. Complex fortifications, such as nuraghi (round towers) were built in places such as Sardinia, for example, and advanced graves and tombs from this period can be found all over Europe.
The Ancient Greeks
The Ancient Greeks used their construction to demonstrate wealth and power, particularly in cities and especially with respect to temples. The Ancient Greeks are renowned for their columns but also developed fired-clay roof tiles around 700 BC, which considerably influenced the ongoing development of architecture. The Classical period of Ancient Greek architecture includes some of the most famous buildings of this period, such as the Athenian Acropolis.
Complexity is one of the characteristics of Roman architecture, which employed a wide range of materials from volcanic rock through to marble. Unburned bricks faced with stucco were characteristic of early Roman construction and the Romans were thought to be some of the first to use concrete in their buildings. Columns and vaults were frequently employed, as well as arches in gates, bridges, and aqueducts. The Romans also built temples but these differed from Ancient Greek designs, as many were circular. They were also responsible for more public buildings for pleasure, including theatres and baths, and were one of the first civilisations to be fully aware of the need for town planning.
The construction of churches was, at one point, where a great deal of resources were going. As a result, Christian buildings provide some fine examples of the ways in which Western Architecture was influenced, such as the first Christian basilicas in Rome and, later, the Hagia Sophia in Turkey.
Increasing engineering expertise enabled buildings of a size never seen before to be constructed in the 13th century and many of them were in the Gothic style. Architectural features such as gables became common, as was tracery on stonework. Notre Dame cathedral in Paris remains one of the finest examples of European Gothic style, despite the recent fire.
The Industrial Revolution
At the end of the 19th century the Industrial Revolution effectively changed everything with the availability of iron and glass having a huge influence over Western Architecture. Buildings could now be taller and constructed from materials that were lighter – and more ambitious design could be realised.
In the 20th – 21st century, modern technology has been one of the biggest influences over current architecture, enabling ever more innovative structures and design thanks to computer programming and software. New structural methods such as cantilevering have become common and construction today often involves innovative materials as well as unusual aesthetics.
These are just some of the influences that have shaped Western Architecture in recent times.
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