Architecture students learn the differences in major architecture styles early in their studies, but most people don’t think about the buildings around them unless they’re asked to describe them.
Understanding architectural styles can be important. It enriches your life. It can give you a different outlook on the buildings in your neighborhood, and it’s especially useful when you’re looking to buy or rent a property.
You don’t have to understand everything from Avant Garde to Usonian to be familiar with architectural styles. Knowing just a handful of basic styles can be helpful.
Classic Architecture bears the unmistakable imprint of Greek and Roman civilizations. Floor plans are usually expansive and simple. Rectangles and squares, boxes within boxes supported by cylinders, constructed primarily of marble or other stone, or brick. Decorative columns in Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian columns are common.
Buildings in the Classic Architecture Style may invoke impressions of stability and intellect as well as boldness and humility. The far-reaching influences of this style can be seen in Neoclassic Style and Greek Revival Style Architecture.
It’s good to understand Industrial Architecture because we’re exposed to so much of it.
The Industrial Revolution inspired these designs. Large buildings needed to be constructed as efficiently as possible to house rows of machinery and their human tenders. Builders used the most modern materials of the time, including iron and steel, brick, concrete, and plate glass.
Buildings constructed in the Industrial Style feature big, open floor plans and high ceilings. They may feature open or exposed ductwork, pipes, electrical conduits, and other industrial features. Windows will often be metal-framed, rectangular, and utilitarian in design and placement.
Industrial Architecture can invoke strong feelings in some people. This may be because they can get clustered together into so-called industrial parks. When businesses fail, these parks can deteriorate rapidly and become eyesores. This makes it easy for some to associate Industrial Architecture with urban decay.
Art Deco Architecture
The term ‘art deco’ is often used to describe retro or vintage objects, but it’s not always accurate. What makes the Art Deco Architecture Style unique?
This style is designed to draw your attention. It’s often bright and bold. Art Deco architecture displays sharp verticality, including elongated triangles, rectangles, overlapping planes, and other geometric shapes. It may incorporate a wide variety of decorative elements, including neon lights and textures. Symmetrical design is most common, and curves may be unpredictable and organic.
Art Deco Architecture is sometimes confused with Bauhaus Architecture. Both use similar materials like metal, glass, and plastic, and they both use geometric shapes that catch the eye. There are some key differences, however.
Geometric shapes – Bauhaus uses basic triangles, squares, and perfect circles, especially in signage. Art Deco may use any shape and isn’t limited to any particular font style.
Decorations – Bauhaus uses few decorative elements, and only sparingly. There’s no such limitation in Art Deco.
Symmetry – Bauhaus buildings accentuate the asymmetrical, while Art Deco buildings emphasize symmetry, particularly around entrances.
Cape Cod Style
Cape Cod Architecture is a good style to understand simply because it’s one of the most popular house styles in the US. Floor plans are flexible, making this style suitable for families of all kinds. You’ll find many examples of Cape Cod Architecture in North American suburbia.
A defining feature of the Cape Cod Architecture Style is comfort. The style features a sturdy, solid construction that projects security and stability.
Cape Cod-style homes have clean, sharp lines you’d expect from wooden posts and beam framing. Shingles cover roofs and exterior walls. Roofs are steep and gabled to resist weather and prevent snow from accumulating. Doors and windows will be symmetrically arranged around a comfortable and homey interior floor plan. Stone or brick fireplaces are standard features.
Contemporary Style is a term used to describe most current constructions. One Contemporary Style building may bear little resemblance with other Contemporary Style buildings next to it, yet they may all fall under this blanket term.
Contemporary Style buildings may use traditional or innovative building materials and construction techniques, such as 3D printing and laser-cutting. They feature an open floor plan with no specific shape or form and take liberty with design elements. Sustainability and green living are often part of the design parameters. They can be very large or very small, and feature any combination of window styles and placement. Features are designed to support physical and virtual comfort and security.
Homes built in the Contemporary Style may be wired to take advantage of the latest technology like online services, security cameras, and Smart appliances.
The Next Architecture Style
For any form of architecture to become a style, it needs either a large number of conforming projects or celebrity status, like Frank Lloyd Wright and the Usonian Style.
It’s hard to say what the next architectural style may be. Designers and builders have options only dreamed of decades ago. Some will take advantage of integrated technology, while others may follow an off-the-grid trend that’s forming in some areas. Green and sustainable features will become more popular than ever. So, if we’re lucky, the next future style might be Smart, green, and sustainable.