One doesn’t usually think of architecture as being an art form, but it is. Many architectural experiments were proposed by well-known engineers and architects. Frank Lloyd Wright, an American architect drew up plans for a building one mile high! R. Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer proposed the possibility of making a giant dome, enough to cover an entire city! He was thinking that by doing this, the climate could be well controlled and make living easier in frozen or desert places.
In order to create successful architecture, the designer or architect has to be mindful and able to meet certain requirements in their resume. The building that he or she is designing must be strong, of sound construction and able to suit the function for which it is being built. The beauty of the size and shape of the structure and the balance of the different parts comes from the architect’s artistic and technical insights and gifts.
Construction is essentially a science. Architects nowadays know the various right ways to build a structure. From past experiments long ago, today’s architects understand what materials to use, what weight they will bear and which ones are strong or weak. They also have learned which materials will resist the sun and rains harm and how to fasten these materials together properly.
One of the earliest architectural examples is the Egyptian tombs. Since the pharaohs, (the kings) were regarded as gods; their final resting places had to last forever. These tombs are called pyramids and some are still standing after 5,000 years! About 2,700 BC the great tomb of King Zoser was built by the architect Imhotep. It was as high as a 20 storey building and built using giant steps. This is the earliest record today that we have of an architect and his client!
The Mesopotamians, who lived between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, built towns and temples made of mud bricks with reeds since they had no trees to construct their buildings. These people covered their structures with glazed tiles. These glazes were melted at a high heat and then fused with bricks for a hard, shiny surface. Their houses were sometimes two stories high and the second story would open onto a balcony. Sometimes they even whitewashed the outsides of their houses.
The Greeks contributed to architecture by giving us the orders. These are the styles for a column and its parts (shaft, capital and base) and also the entablature (architrave, frieze and cornice), which are the supports. These Greek orders, called Doric, Ionic and Corinthian were later added to by the Romans and others. These orders are still used in architecture to this day!
After World War II, architecture started to move away from its boxlike severity of the era between the first and second World Wars. Le Corbusier used reinforced concrete forms in the 1940s and 1950s. One of his achievements was the Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp, France. Its roof was curved and made of reinforced concrete held together by concrete struts.
The recent trends that architects are using now are to build buildings that are energy and fuel efficient and economical. Architects also are incorporating designs using solar energy and better insulating materials. One can only dream of what kind of home we will be buying in the future!