What is Architecture Definition, Concepts, Types and Characteristics


In general, architecture is art in the sense of technique, of projecting and constructing not only buildings, but also other objects. In the same way, architecture can be defined as the set and perspective that a building presents. Likewise, some define it as the art of building with the principles of beauty and harmony. In the same way, the word architecture also encompasses the purely material concept of construction, however, the concept has subsequently been expanded to be applicable to all orders.


On the other hand, there are several types of architecture:   A monastic architecture , another civil, military, naval, hydraulic, industrial, funerary, commemorative and monumental. In addition, each civilization has determined a special characteristic in the art of its constructions. Therefore, the origin of architecture is strongly linked to the concept of habitation and dwelling in the primitive human, hence this concept is found first in the rudiments of constructive art. Born from the cave, from the lake room to later the most complicated forms.


Definition of architecture

The emergence of architecture is based on the need that human beings had once they went from nomad to sedentary, to settle, to build settlements and rooms where they can shelter from the inclement weather and at the same time, settle down. Thus the first monuments created by humans were carved in stone. Likewise, the emergence of architecture has its origin in the idea of ​​shelter that gives human beings notions for spatial organization, first around fire and then, the expansion of space according to other needs. Still, in very tribal societies the characteristics of the first constructions can be observed at this time, such is the case of the Amerindian, African and aboriginal peoples.


In this same sense, the concept of shelter is intuitively found in gregarious beings such as the human being, it is present in their collective unconscious, strongly introjected to the point of marking the culture of the various subsequently established societies. Therefore, architectural theorists at various times in history such as: Vitruvius in ancient times, Leon Battista Alberti in the Renaissance, and Joseph Rykwert more recently, refer to the primitive hut as a myth. Ensuring that the human being was enlightened by the gods to build his shelter initially of wood and four walls with a gabled roof. Therefore, this is the first concept of house that the human being houses, and that gives rise to architecture. So the wordarchitecture, has its origin in the archetypal word, which means form.

How did it develop?

The architecture from its beginnings is based on the need that the human being had, once he settled in the spaces, to build a dwelling as a shelter. Later, that abode changed shape and expanded according to its needs. Thus, architecture has different times and each time has its respective current, as well as a representative theorist. Therefore, Vitruvio , in De Architectura (1st century BC), pointed out as characteristics of architecture to three aspects: the firmitas , I finish with the one that determined the safety in the technical and constructive level, the name of  the utilitas , to the function to which it is intended, and venustas to conformed beauty.

In the 19th century Eugène Viollet-le-Duc classified architecture and the art of building in two parts: theory and practice. According to this author, theory encompassed art, norms from tradition and science, which could be demonstrated by defined formulas, as well as practice determined by the adequacy of theory to materials, climate, and needs. that are required to be covered in each case. Similarly, John Ruskin , author of The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849), who was concerned with sociocultural and economic aspects, defined architecture as the art of decorating and composing buildings emphasizing contemplation as a contribution to the health, strength and pleasure of the human spirit.

Then, a more practical and modern concept of architecture is developed with Sigfried Giedion who defined architectural creation as the correct application of materials and economic principles to the creation of spaces for humans.

In this sense, architecture has particularities that allow it to be differentiated from the rest of the arts. The first refers to materials and techniques, defined as the construction technique that is the part of architecture, which deals with the correct use of materials according to their qualities and nature, so that they satisfactorily meet the conditions of solidity, aptitude And beauty. Thus, the architecture has several technologies and can occur alone or in combination. Therefore, Alexandre Cirici , classifies it according to the materials and textures in architecturewood, as well as textile, baked earth, stone, brick, metal, reinforced concrete and, more recently, that uses plastic and fiberglass, with their respective techniques. From the societies, the constructive technique depends on the technological level of that society and on the needs to be covered in each case, which vary according to the times and cultures. Likewise, the functional aspect is another characteristic of the architecture. Therefore, architecture must serve the purpose for which it was created, and it is precisely the functional aspect that gives rise to multiple types of buildings.

Architecture Characteristics

The architecture has different styles, with different qualities that are interesting to know. Therefore, depending on the style, these characteristics can be identified. However, several of these qualities are common to the various styles.

In general, professionals have different styles to design and the character, design and style of a building or house is called architecture.

Different architectural styles are characterized by the features that make a building or a house. In architecture, these features are classified as visual appearance, structure, materials, and historical period and apply to all styles of architecture, including modern.

For example, modern architecture is a style that refers to a large group of similar buildings that arose in many countries through the practice of various architects between the 1920s and 1950s. Modern architecture first took off in Europe and then made its way into the American style.

The Bauhaus, a German school of art and architecture, had a great impact on the style of modern architecture, with its principle of less is more. When the school was closed due to pressure from the Nazi regime, its faculty emigrated to the United States.

For this reason, the influence of the Bauhaus traveled to America and was renamed the International Style. This International Style was suitable for all countries and cultures, because it was for modern man wherever he existed. Thus, the International Style is made up of key characteristics, including simplicity of form, functionality, clean structure, lack of ornamentation, and rejection of traditional styles.

Architecture Classification

The architecture is designed to fulfill the specifications of an individual or group. So the types of architecture depend on the social formation and can be classified according to its role in the community. The types to be discussed below are focused on the national, religious, governmental, recreational, educational, commercial, and industrial welfare of society and represent the simplest classification. Therefore, a scientific typology of architecture would require a more detailed analysis.


This Architecture is produced by the social unit of the individual, family and their dependents, animals and humans. It provides shelter and security for the basic physical functions of life and sometimes also for commercial, industrial, agricultural activities that involve the family unit, rather than the community. The basic requirements of domestic architecture are simple: a place to sleep, prepare food, eat and perhaps work; a place that has some light and is protected from inclement weather. A room with sturdy walls and a ceiling, a door, a window, and a home with the most immediate needs.


In much of the world today, even where institutions have been in a continuous process of change, types of housing of ancient or prehistoric origin are in use. In industrialized countries such as the United States, granaries are built according to a design used in Europe in the first millennium BC. Thus, the forces that produce a dynamic evolution of architectural style in a communal building are generally inactive at home and on the farm.

The lives of average people can be altered by the most fundamental changes in their institutions. Economic pressure is the main factor that produces average individuals restricting their demands to a level well below what the technology of its time is capable of maintaining. New structures are often built with old techniques because experimentation and innovation cost more than repetition.

But in the economy of rich cultures, permits and customs encourage architecture to provide conveniences such as sanitation, lighting, and heating, as well as separate areas for different functions, and these may come to be seen as necessities. The same causes tend to replace the conservatism of the house with the aspirations of institutional architecture and emphasize expression as well as utilitarian function.


As wealth and expressive functions increased, a special type of domestic and national building distinguished itself as being the architecture of power. In almost all civilizations the patron of society gives some of its members the possibility to use the resources of the community in the construction of their houses, palaces, villas, gardens and places of recreation.

These few, whose advantages are generally presented as economic, religious, or class differences, are able to enjoy an infinite variety of domestic activities related to the customs of their position.


This third type of domestic architecture accommodates the group rather than the unit and therefore can be both public and private. It is familiar through the widespread development of mass housing, in the modern world, in which individuals or families find space in multiple dwellings or in single units produced in quantity. Group housing is produced by many types of cultures, such as communal states to equalize living standards, to ensure a docile workforce, feudal, or by caste systems to reunite members of a class.

Types of Architecture

The architecture of the like all other arts has its currents, which have changed as they have been developed societies. According to the composition of social and cultures, architecture is classified into Eastern and Western.

What is the legacy of this Art?

The architecture as is known today, has its roots in architecture Roman, since the Romans were skilled and intelligent builders. In their architecture and engineering, they took ideas from the Greeks and other peoples. However, all the ideas that have been implemented in design and architecture were devised by the Romans in such a way that future engineers and architects have imitated them to this day. The architectureFrom the arch, vault and cupola to build huge structures was devised and developed by the Romans. A vault is an arch used in a roof to support the roof. A dome is a semicircle-shaped vault that rests on a circular wall. Roman baths and other public buildings often had large arched vaults. Similarly, the Pantheon, a magnificent temple still preserved in Rome, is famous for its immense dome. Likewise, until today materials such as cement and concrete are used also initially by the Romans, to help them build arches much larger than those that others had tried before.

To this day, concrete is made by mixing broken stone with sand, cement, and water, allowing the mix to harden. The Romans did not invent this material, but they were the first to make its use widespread.

On the other hand, the construction of the new stadiums, have the ideas of origin in the Romans. Thousands of spectators could sit in these large open-air structures, so this same purpose is served by today’s stadiums. The Romans used concrete to build tunnels such is the case of the Colosseum in Rome. As in those days, the tunnels make it easy for spectators to reach their seats. Likewise, modern football stadiums still take advantage of this feature.

In this sense, another legacy of Roman architecture that continues as an innovation until now, is the triumphal arch, widely copied. This arch is a huge monument built back then to celebrate great victories or events. So, a famous example of this arch is the Arc de Triomphe (Arc de Triomphe), in Paris, France. This monument celebrates the victories of the French Emperor Napoleon in 1800. Today it is the national war memorial of France.

Most important artists and / or representatives

Here is a brief overview of some of the most renowned architects of the technological age.

Frank Owen Gehry (Toronto, Canada, 1929)

Gehry considers architecture to be an art, and also thinks that making a building is as if it were a sculpture. He has worked on successive projects without abandoning other essential aspects of architecture, such as the functionality of the building and its integration with the environment. Some of his most outstanding works are: The Frank Gehry House (California), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao Spain), Hotel el Marqués de Riscal (The blind man, Spain), Dancing House (Prague Czech Republic), DG Bank Building (Berlin Germany).

Antoni Gaudí (Barcelona 1852-1926). 

Gaudí, is one of the most famous architects of the 20th century, of Catalan origin. considered the greatest exponent of modernism. Therefore, this architect stands out for the use of curved lines, technological innovations, and the use of motifs drawn from nature as models of form, whose characteristics give Gaudí’s architecture a unique and unique stamp. personal. His transcendent and unique work is the church of the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, ​​even though he could not finish it.

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe (Germany 1886-1969) 

Van der Rohe, is another of the famous architects of the Bauhaus current, of which he was its director. The architectural style of this famous Architect is to employ advanced structural techniques, as well as Prussian classicism. Likewise, he made designs with steel and glass, and in the academic field, he was dean of the Chicago school of architecture , during his exile in the United States. Likewise, his most emblematic work is the Seagram building in New York, being valued as the highest expression of international style.

Frank Lloyd Wright: (USA 1867-1959) 

Wright devised and developed a new concept regarding the interior spaces of buildings, similar to those he applied in his houses on the prairie, designing spaces in which each room or room opens up to the others, achieving great visual transparency, due to because the profusion of light conveys a feeling of spaciousness and openness. Likewise, seeking to differentiate one area from the other, make divisions with light material and ceilings of different heights, getting rid of unnecessary solid walls. Therefore, the difference between “defined spaces” and “closed spaces” is due to Wright. Also standing out is the fact that Wright studied Mayan architecture with great care, applying a reminiscent Mayan style to several of his homes.

Aspects to take into account in Architecture

There are two main aspects that every architect must know to develop his profession in the best way, they are of vital importance and very useful

Exoskeleton in Architecture

The exoskeleton is a biomimetic model for the rehabilitation of social housing. In particular, buildings built in Europe in the post-World War II period suffer material and social degradation that requires architectural, functional and structural interventions.

The analysis of the state of the art underlines the importance of the envelope in the definition of new features and standards. Using a biomimicry approach, the exoskeleton is shown to be a structural building envelope capable of solving complex sets of problems that integrate different building systems.

Adaptability turns out to be a fundamental property for defining effective seismic and structural behavior, but also for responding to changing user needs and environmental conditions.

Descriptive memory of Architecture

According to architectural theorists, memories are products of the experience of the body in physical space and to consolidate the theorem, memories are as good as buildings.

The palace of the mind, also known as the palace of memory or method of the loci, is a mnemonic device believed to have originated in ancient Rome, in which the items that need to be memorized are attached to some kind of visual signal and are linked in a situated narrative, a journey through a space.

Scientific writer and author Joshua Foer covered this technique in depth in his book Moonwalk with Einstein, which he trained on and ultimately won the United States Memory Championship. To memorize long lists of words, a deck of cards, a poem or a set of faces, mental athletes, as they are called, fuse a familiar place, that is, the house in which they grew up with a self-created fictional environment populated by the objects from your list.

What is a House or School of Architecture?

It is an architectural style, of building that is imposed and taught as a school of architecture. Just as was the prairie school or prairie style architectural style. The style is usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or gabled roofs with wide projecting eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship and discipline in the use of ornament. The horizontal lines were thought to evoke and relate to the wide esplanades and treeless expanses of the native American prairie landscape.

The Prairie School was an attempt to develop a native architecture style in tune with the ideals and design aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement, with which the artisan guilds shared and as an antidote to the dehumanizing effects of mass production.

Most representative schools of Architecture

There are some schools or houses that have stood out in the passage of history, due to a unique excellence, here is the list of the most representative houses of architecture:

Farnsworth House

It is a very specific house design devised and built by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1945 and 1951. It is a one-bedroom weekend retreat house in what was then a rural setting, southwest of downtown from Chicago, adjacent to the Fox River, south of the city of Plano, Illinois. The house is made of steel and glass and was commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a prominent Chicago nephrologist, as a place where she could pursue her hobbies such as playing the violin, translating poetry, and enjoying nature.

Domino House by Le Corbusier

This style of architecture that later became a school and a trend in building design, was conceived by Le Corbusier when he was only 27 years old, so named because the houses could be joined end to end like dominoes, and with a design plan. , to combine domus and innovation.

In November 1914, a fifth of the Belgian population was homeless. The solution was taken from Le Corbusier’s simple and ingenious design of a standardized two-story house made up of concrete slabs supported by columns and a staircase, no walls, no rooms, just a skeleton. The architect hoped to patent the idea and make his fortune in association with his friend Max Du Bois’s concrete company.

This would be a home assembly line, like the one Henry Ford had invented just the year before. But, finding no sponsor, he was forced to abandon the idea. Ironically, the architect had Fordist standardization in mind yet still produced the perfect architectural symbol for an era obsessed with customization and participation.

Curutchet House

Casa Curutchet, is a Le Corbusier building, located in La Plata, Argentina, which was commissioned by Dr. Pedro Domingo Curutchet, a surgeon, in 1948, and which included a small medical office on the ground floor. The house consists of four main levels with a patio between the house and the clinic.

The design of the house is that of a single-family home and medical office, which was declared a national monument in 1987 and is currently the headquarters of CAPBA. Dr. Pedro Domingo Curutchet, chose the architect Le Corbusier after doing an intense search among various Argentine architects and not finding one that met his expectations regarding the design he wanted. Le Corbusier accepted the proposal but clarified that he was not traveling to Argentina, for which he appointed Amancio Williams, of his total confidence, in charge of the direction of the work, who had a great influence on the final design of the project.

Bauhaus school

Bauhaus, is a school of design, architecture and applied arts that existed in Germany from 1919 to 1933. It had its headquarters in Weimar until 1925, in Dessau until 1932, and in Berlin in its last months.

The Bauhaus was founded by architect Walter Gropius, who combined two schools, the Weimar Academy of Arts and the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts, into what he called the Bauhaus, or building house, a name derived from the investment of the German word Hausbau, building a house.

Gropius’s building house included the teaching of various trades, which he saw as allies of architecture, the matrix of the arts. By training students alike in art and technical crafts, the Bauhaus sought to end the difference between the two.

Beginning in the mid-19th century, the reformers led by English designer William Morris had tried to bridge the same division by emphasizing high-quality craftsmanship in combination with fit-for-purpose design. By the last decade of that century, these efforts had led to the Arts and Crafts movement.

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