Time for our second look into how architecture has changed over time, previously we discovered the Stone and Bronze ages and now we turn our attention further to the East and the remarkable architecture that was developed.
Now more commonly known as Cambodia, the former Khmer civilization was an important contributor to the architecture of southeast Asia. These palaces and temples were built out of brick, sandstone and laterite and were designed for immortal gods. The elaborate structures were surrounded by vast enclosures that were not designed to keep intruders away but to protect against evil powers. Altogether the Khmer civilization had fourteen different architectural periods and styles.
The structural principles that cover Chinese architecture are mainly consistent and have changed little, only perhaps for decoration purposes. During the Bronze-age most building in China was with wood, and most design was based on the horizontal axis. The main focus of Chinese design was on the width of the building, and vertical walls as such were not the emphasis. In China and in other east Asian cultures such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Ryukyu the trade of an architect, and craftsman in building was highly revered.
Incan and Mesoamerican architecture played a big part in developing south American architecture. The Incas were proficient enough to develop an extensive road infrastructure running the whole length of the western side of the continent. Amazingly these roads were constructed for animals or walkers as the Incas had not invented the wheel. The early buildings of this culture where mighty pyramids, which remain the largest such structures outside Egypt.
European architecture spans Medieval, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Deco and many other periods. In the early part of European architecture, the Romans were most dominant, and indeed Europe copied building design and principles from many established cultures from the East and Africa. However, the Europeans took these rough early techniques and mastered their build quality and design. Modern materials were used which gave access to radical new design as European architecture progressed. In some respects, European architecture was formed as a type of art, and periods such as Art Nouveau and Expressionist are directly related to art movements.
Today’s modern architecture is mainly characterized by the simplicity or perceived simplicity of design. Modern building materials have allowed designers and architects to make dreams come true in the world of architecture. The techniques now employed for erecting buildings make the finished structure seem effortless, even soaring skyscrapers have a simplicity and grace of design. Underneath this facade lies an unbelievable structure and design technique that enables such buildings to be erected. Modern architecture takes the environment very much into account, many buildings are built to simply blend into their surroundings and almost be a part of nature. Old building materials such as grass sods and earth bricks are once again being used in construction. These are breathable and give a building natural ventilation among other benefits such as sustainability.
It is almost as if architecture has come full circle to the Stone-age period, perhaps it has in some respects but is this a particularly bad thing?