THE BIZANTINE (6th century)

Mainly religious architecture,  simple on the outside but flamboyant inside. 

Must be named the Magnum Palatio, a city with imperial palaces, military installations, public buildings and many churches around.

They transformed roads to connect all the religious buildings and they used the stone very wisely, either just to build fast or to save material.

Hagia Sofia

The Byzantine emperor Justinian ordered to build this structure and during this period, lots of very important churches were constructed.

The Hagia Sofia represents the union between the Empire and the Church. The cube topped by a dome represents the Earth covered by the dome of Heaven.

The dome is placed on four triangular concave Pendentive, they are a transition between the circular shape of the dome and the rectangular base.

The architects wanted to make people feel like in Heaven, in total contrast to the real world.

Byzantine architecture is full of symbolism.

Military Architecture

Cities started to be constructed in smaller places because this way they were easier to defend. This signified that a defensive lifestyle was acquired by the population, especially in the periphery.

It was vital to maintain the defensives systems, as well as collecting and distribution of water, so they focused on that.

Byzantines invented small spaces in the constructions from where they could through projectiles to enemies (if they were close to the building).

Justinian made the cities transform themselves into military fortifications after restoring ancient walls and adding fortified centers.

Theodisious of Constantinople’s Wall


During this period starts the pyramidal system, which divided the territory in kingdoms and other smaller structures. Castles started to develop more and more, their typology (pre-romanesque) started to develop during the 8th Century and it became very popular around Europe.

Lombards (6th-8th Century)

They first were Roman civilizations, but then they were transformed into christians in the 5th century. Because they were nomadic, they didn’t know how to work with stone, so when they learned they acquired an uniform style with different languages due to their ideology on Roman architecture.

They were well-trained in goldsmithing.

Most of their activity took place in Italy, where most of it has been lost due to the constant remodellations of the buildings.

Visigoths (7th-8th Century)

It takes up the model of the Roman basilica, massive constructions now influenced by Aegean and Syrian areas. One of the most outstanding buildings are:

Carolingian (9th Century)

They wanted to emulate the Roman Empire, to do so they performed a systematic recovery to legitimise and celebrate the Empire. Religion is extremely important and means the construction and reconstruction of monasteries, palaces and cathedrals. An important example is the Palace of Aquisgrana.

They also introduced the Westwerk, to create a huge façade they would place a very high building in front of the entrance.

SAXONS OTONIANS (9-10th Century)

After the Carolingian-feudal anarchy, the Otonians wanted to confirm the existence of a conection between them and Christian Emperors. They dedicated their architecture to mainly abbeys and cathedrals, their inspiration were the Roman basilicas. They also used Westwerk and double apses, galleries and tribunes, and an alternation of pillars and columns.

They anticipated Romanesque solutions.

ISLAMIC (8-15th Century)

A common feature of this architecture is the use of towers and water. The towers were defensive elements and also places from where to see the landscape, like gardens, where they would design water routes.

They invented new architectural types, such as Mosques (a place of reunion and pray) and Hamams (baths).

Ornaments are used to create an atmosphere of light and color, it’s decoration is based on geometrical shapes and repetition. Ceramic and plastic are used (Muqarnas).

ROMANESQUE 10-12th Century

Associated with the Normans, is a fortified architecture due to the political instability of that period.

Christian religion increased its power and with that its ontrol over everything, even architecture.

The main characteristics of this period are the use of semicircular archs and Roman vaults, which due to its weight require the thickening of walls. For this reason the openings are so small.


Due to the emerge of artisans and commercials, a new type of class appeared: the bourgeoisie and with it the burgos, with helped with the development of art.

Architects started to used diagonal ribs to reinforce the Roman vaults, this alleviated the loads that the walls recieved. It was now possible to make higher structures with thinner walls. They invented the ojival arch, a great invention.

The most important structures of this period were:


That were the house of God, who produces fear. They wanted to exalt the grandiosity of God, that is why they did the buildings so big, so humans would feel belittled.

As we have mentioned, the ojiva arch was invented, this meant not using walls, now they had much more open spaces. The use of pinnacles to stibilize, meant that the buildings got to be quite high.

They also introduced stained glass windows to represent biblical scenes.


The appearance of the bourgeoisie caused them to build commercial markets and buildings for professional guilds, other than that, they also remodeled ancient buildings following the gothic ideal.

During this period, city councils were also built because cities were gaining economic and political autonomy.

RENAISANCE (15-16th Century)

The Church suffers an enormous crisis thet leads to the schism of the West.

In the 15th Century, specially in Italy, an urban culture emerged and they were very eager to protect art and create some more, they even payed for the construction of new buildings for themselves.

It is the period of optimism, compared to the decadence of the medieval times. The philosophy of Humanism, that emphatized the importance of the Human, left a little behind the idea of following strictly the word of God.

The idea of the Classic architecture came back and it was extended all around Europe. The new architecture had to be ratinally understable, it had to respect proportions.

Some very important architects of this period were:


Architect, humanist, sculptor, mathematician and goldsmith. He rediscovered the laws of perspective using maths . With him, the profession of architects started to be seem as part of the new powerful social classes. Brunnelleschi’s technological innovation is self-supporting construction.


An amazing architect in theory, as well as in practice.

His buildings are full of demostrative intentions and subtle formal resources oriented to proportion, which is the base of architecture. He composed several treatises like De Pictura, De Statua and De Re Aedificatoria, where he defines the principles around beauty and ornaments.

Beauty is the harmony between all the parts of the whole according to a certain norm so that it is not possible to remove, put, or change anything without the whole becoming more imperfect.

Baptista Alberti

Ornament is a kind of secondary beauty aid, a complementary element. Ornament is by nature something accessory.



His patron was Count Trissino, an intellectual of the time who supporting him and taught humanist culture without any training. Palladio wrote ” I Quattro Libri do Architecttura”, which includes a study of ancient Roman architecture, analysis of classical orders under documentation of his own work, private and public.

Based on his music studies, he designed his villas using numerical systems of proportionality for the rooms, divising a variety of typologies characterized by the simplicity of the floor plan, the compositional proportion and  functionability. In the villas he adapted the central body of the house to the forms of the ancient temple topped by a pediment, considering that the Roman temples were  derived from the hut and the thus returning the portico with columns to the origins, the private house.


Sculptor, painter and architect.

He illustrates his transition between Renaissance and Mannerism, with very important works where it is seen that he uses the classical elements transforming them or manipulating them and transgressing the classical design. He alternates curves and right angles, concave and complex shapes to create a sense of movement and tension.

Manneriwas another typology that introduced subtle tensions to the classical rational rigidity.

BARROQUE (17-18th)

 Derived from the term barrueco which means imperfect Pearl, used in a derogatory sense by French critics in the 18th century. It emerged as propaganda for the church. This technology is an effort to obtain the maximum possible effects from an space. It is the spacial liberation of the rules of the classical period, its focus what’s on the visual effect and decoration. We don’t get to see the line between reality and illusion, it’s an expression of fantasy, metabolic, multiplication of ethnographic effects, asymmetry, use of light, etc.


He was an architect, a sculptor and painter. He’s the main model of the architectural baroque in Europe.

He work for the church, from whom he obtained great success and recognition. His architecture pursues the emotional impact, he uses warm, shimmering color tones and plays with contrast between dark and light to accentuate the focal point of the composition toward the saints. He mixes painting and sculpture to create architecture.


He was the most original and revolutionary architect of the Six Hundred. His work was based on simple geometric elements, which manipulated into the space. For example, he might use circles and triangles to recreate the single Star of David as a floor plan.

ROCOCO (18th Century)

It is an artistic fashion born in the French courtly environments. It is distinguished by the frivolity and  superficiality of a decoration faithful to themselves, with the aim of surprising and ostentation. It begins as a fashion in the warm and dream interior spaces, with contrast with the conditions of dirt and unhealthy exteriors. The interiors are an ambient plaster shell subtly used to define the space and to manipulate natural lightning, but it hides the structure and detaches itself from it.

NEOCLASSIC (18-19th Century)

It was a confusing and contradictory historical moment in which neoclassicism, an incipient Romanticism and the beginnings of the industrial revolution co-existed from the rococo to the neoclassicism. There are several aesthetic approaches in this period.

It appear the enlightenment, a trend towards objective knowledge of history as a scientific discipline arose. A period of time, when Vitruvious was again important (fashionable).

These topology was against the opulence of the baroque and rococo.

The neoclassical style was linked to the idea of public service and educational functions of the buildings, as well as the Greek Agora that was configured by STOAS, large and elongated public buildings with arcades to encourage meetings. It was in this context that the museum was born with a didactic function.

Some French architects reinvented an architecture of pure geometric forms to express the interior function and proposed an architectural revolution being in a way pioneers of modern architecture. Some of them were Luis Boullée and Claude Nicolas Ledoux.

19th Century

Due to the industrialization the Western world increased its population towards the cities, which had problems with provisions and space. Walls were demolished, the expansion began and new construction typologies appeared. They experimented with new materials and shapes. It had a desire for the past, giving rise to historicism (neo-gothic, Neo-Egyptian, Neo-Romanesque…), exoticism (Neo- Arabic, Neo-Indian, Neo-chino…)  and mixtures of styles (eclecticism).

It was a response to evade the real world, the reality.

20th Century


It started around 1910 and it was extinguished due to the excessive cost of handcraft products. Here in spain, in developed in Catalonia at the end of the 19th century on the beginning of the 20th century. Antonio Gaudi went through a modernist period but later he produced an original architecture, typical of catalonia, based on the Catalan mudejar tradition and the medieval past.


Is built with expression, distorting the rational form to express the spirit. It is an organic architecture.


Constructivism, the architectural expression of abstractism, is characterized by rejecting the excess of bourgeois decorative charge and ornamentation, adopting abstract geometrization in rejection of figurative past. It is a simple architecture, it reflects communism ideology.

Neoplasticism, both in art and architecture, translates into an orthogonal composition that can be extended to infinity, using planes, straight lines and pure colors inserts of balance between essence and matter as well as purity.

Bauhaus is rationalist and pursues functionality. The Modern Movement was born.

Le Corbusier creates the five points of the principles of rationalism (pilotis, free floor plan, free facade, continuous windows, roof garden) and Mies Van der Rohe broadens the chromatic range and surface finishes with the textures and natural colour of the materials.


One of the predominant aspects of the 1950s and the 1960s is the need to measure oneself against the change brought about by the masters of the Modern Movement: faced with their great contribution, the dichotomy is either continuity or revision. 

Architecture in the 50s and 60s

Some architects considered architecture as only functionalism, whereas others think that it needs to be adapted to the needs of the human being within its cultural tradition and its place.

Architecture since the ’60s

Times of revolution, utopia and proposals. Much theoretical and practical experimentation where the personal individuality of the architect, environment sensitivities related to sustainability.

It is very hard to classify the architects of this period.


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