Architecture is the science or art of building construction and design, which makes use of long lasting materials to produce buildings or structures that are aesthetically pleasing and well suited for a particular purpose. A quote from English poet Sir Henry Wooten states that “Well building hath three conditions: Commodity, firmness, and delight
Over history, the architecture followed a long sequence of distinguishable styles, these can be identified by words such as Baroque, Gothic, Neo-Classical. Architecture may also be of a homogenous style such as Ancient Greek, Roman or Egyptian.
Architectural style, whether it is found in factories, country houses, hotels, airports or religious buildings, reflects the needs and the values of the society that has produced it. The style of structures is not only ruled by tastes and conventions, but by another range of correlative pragmatic considerations.
These are mainly the availability of technology and of materials for construction, as well as engineering considerations such as load bearing and stresses that must be taken into account during the design, all of which will make sure that the finished structure will fulfil its intended purpose.
Through the ages, the availability of local materials has had distinct influence on the design of buildings and structures throughout the World. The availability of local materials is also closely linked to development of the skills required to work them. Carpentry for example, developed where local surroundings that were densely forested as the wood became an important building material. Despite becoming a scarce resource, timber still remains widely used in construction projects of the present day. In other parts of the World, early architects chose readily available stone and marble to create buildings and monuments adorned with sculptures that were integral load bearing parts of the building structure. Today the use of stone an marble continues although its use has declined in favor of more readily available materials such as steel, glass and concrete which are also much more economical to produce and assemble.
In some regions even timber was scarce, this forced the local inhabitants to fashion buildings from the Earth itself. Mud and clay was, and still is, used by compacting it into bricks. After being left to try in the sun, these bricks are used in local construction and held together with mortar made from the same material. Older civilizations used kilns to further harden the bricks which makes them far stronger and more durable enabling larger structures to be built. So early cultures used naturally occurring substances from their local environment and then developed technologies to exploit the materials to their advantage.
Masonry is the term used to describe buildings made with stones or bricks. The bricks are built in bonded rows which adhere by an alternate layer of mortar compressed by gravity. Early mortars were comprised of sand or mud but the Romans developed cement mortars and concretes which they used to dramatic effect in buildings which are still in existence more that 2000 years after they were first constructed. Despite the Roman’s development of the first concrete, it was not until the 19th century until the a truly waterproof cement was developed.
Another development of the 19th century was production of iron and steel on an industrial scale. Mills turned out rolled sections that could replace traditional wooden frames with a much stronger material. Steel rods could also be placed in wet concrete which improved its versatility giving rise to the 20th century’s myriad of reinforced concrete structures. Subsequently, aluminium became widely available and was used in an anodized for to provide a cladding material used to cover the surface of buildings to provide a coating that was durable and virtually maintenance free. Glass became easier to produce in larger sizes and higher quality, stained glass appeared in many churches and religious buildings, its availability being enhanced enormously by industrial processing. This gave architects the ability to exploit natural light in a way that had never been possible before.
The expanse of building and construction being carried out in the modern age today shows the complexity of modern day Architects jobs, having to balance the creation of mass housing, shopping centres, large office buildings, town centres airports, supermarkets, hospitals schools and a whole host of other infrastructure required by today’s modern life.
Today Architects are not only concerned with the aesthetics of a new building they also need to focus on the needs of a diverse community of business and urban neighbourhoods, developing new structures that fulfil the requirements of the modern world whilst interacting with existing buildings to create a pleasing aesthetic.