Architectural Design Styles

The term “architectural design styles” refer to the features of a building that make it historically distinguishable. Such as the clean lines of mid-century a modern house design, or the intricately-sculpted facades of Gothic cathedrals. These features range from form to the materials from which a building is made.

Over the years, Architecture has manifested itself in many different styles. Today, it is important for Architects to know all these styles, as they serve as incredibly useful design informants. Through analysing what made these Architectural styles successful and favourable, Architects can both simplify their design process and improve the overall design of their building.

Architectural styles stem from various worldly social movements. Some are more significant than others; however, that is subjective. These include the Classical, Gothic, Art Deco, Modern, Contemporary, and Vernacular styles of Architecture.

Classical Architecture Style

Classical Architecture Style

Classical Architecture refers to buildings based on principles used in Greek and Roman architecture. Of all the architectural schools of thought, Classical Architecture has persisted the longest. Today’s architects still often use lessons learned from these buildings. From the Italian Renaissance, Classical Architecture permeated through many cultures – spreading outward from Europe and eventually establishing itself in the United States centuries later, through the neo-classical movement. Classical Architecture has a powerful language of decorative and constructive elements – making it one of the most popular styles that exist throughout the world.

Gothic Architecture

Gothic Architecture Style

This beautifully detailed style of architecture was prominent in Europe during the end of the Middle Ages, right up until the 16th century. It originated in France, used to represent the spiritual importance of churches and cathedrals throughout the country. This style sparked the creation of innovative architectural devices such as the rib vault, flying buttress, and pointed Gothic arch, which was all used together to create tall, captivating spaces. Another defining characteristic of all Gothic cathedrals was the stained-glass window. The excessive use of stained glass throughout these buildings flooded the interior spaces with coloured light. In addition, every threshold bears decoration and incredible detail — and oftentimes, sculptures depicting biblical narratives. The craftsmanship seen in these buildings is so thorough it is only comprehensible as work done as a form of worship.

Art Deco Style

Art Deco Architecture Style

Art Deco is an easily identifiable style that was globally popular at the turn of the previous century. It was a curious combination that emerged from a traditional desire for excessive decoration, and to represent the zeitgeist of the modern world. The period of invention and industry raised excitement, as architects sought a new, sleek architecture that spoke of a sophisticated world. Architects took to designing buildings that featured clean aesthetics and built using smooth, elegant materials. Industrial interests of the time had direct influence over materials of choice. As such, many Art Deco buildings showcase elements of concrete, glass, and aluminium. Art Deco Architecture formed part of a larger school of thought that included other Modern art movements, such as Cubism. The architectural style employed the same characteristics as Cubist art, such as harsh geometric expression and bold colour.

Modern Architecture Style

Modern Architecture Style

The emergence of Modern Architecture marked the complete reformation of all architectural thought. Architects realised that they no longer had to conform to the architectural traditions of the past and could instead reinvent the profession entirely. During this time, architects such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright paved the way for the buildings we see today.

The excessive use of ornaments was removed entirely, facades became minimalistic expressions, and forms became cubic and clean. Suggestive and implied spaces had replaced those that were confined. The focus was shifted to the use of space rather than how it looked. Thus, making floor plans functional and practical.

Contemporary Architecture

Contemporary Architecture Style

The term “Contemporary Architecture” refers to the Architecture of today – it is the “movement” in which we currently find ourselves. This style has no single set of characteristics; instead, it consists of several different architectural approaches. These approaches include sustainable design, technology-driven design, and highly expressive form-making. A contemporary building will often make use of all these approaches. Unlike the architecture of the previous Modern movement, Contemporary Architecture doesn’t seek to establish a consistent language throughout the world. On the contrary, it aims to be entirely individual and expressive in its design. Contemporary buildings prominently aim to incorporate the latest available technology and materials. It also aims to place great emphasis on eco-friendly design and sustainability.

Vernacular Style

Vernacular Basotho Architecture Style

The term “vernacular” discusses the character of a particular region. Vernacular Architecture isn’t a single style, but rather a range of styles found around the world. In an academic sense, the term vernacular describes buildings that are synonymous their location. Such as the dwellings of the Basotho tribe in Lesotho which make use of traditional building methods & local materials in their construction, or the flat-gabled, thatch-roofed Cape Dutch houses found in the Western Province. The vernacular architecture includes all the nation-specific architecture of the world – giving it the most excellent range of stylistic features, building materials, and methods of construction. Vernacular buildings are often elementary, with highly practical functions.

Vernacular Basotho Architecture Style


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