Types of Architecture

Types of architecture

Have you ever looked at a building and wondered if it was Bauhaus or Modernist in style? Often, types of architecture and their styles build on each other, and in each past period the foundations for the advancement of the next culture are built. Just think of the lasting influence of the Egyptian pyramids or classical Greek temples.


An architectural type is an expression that describes a formal structure.

  • The type is of a conceptual nature, not of an objective nature: it brings together a family of objects that all possess the same essential conditions.
  • The type has a description by which it is possible to recognize the objects that compose it.
  • The type refers to the formal structure, we speak of types from the moment we recognize the existence of structural similarities between architectural objects.

One of the best definitions we know of the idea of existing classes or types of architecture comes from a literary text: Victor Hugo in his novel Notre-Dame de Paris: "Great buildings, like great mountains, are the work of centuries. Often art is transformed when it is not yet finished: the work continues peacefully according to the transformed art.


The new art brings the monument to where it is. It is made following a natural and silent law". This is what happens in the type of European religious architecture during the Christian era. Whatever the development of the sculptor and the embroidery of a cathedral underneath, it is always the Roman basilica that develops eternally on the ground according to the same law.


The internal skeleton, the logical arrangement of the parts, of which Hugo speaks. It is something that is at the very root of architecture and of the styles that compose it. That is why it always remains and reappears in its different manifestations.


The superimposition of different styles on the same monument is not evidence of the interchangeable character of styles; style links architecture with history.


Just as style relates all architectural works to precise spatio-temporal coordinates, the type of architecture expresses the permanence of its essential aspects and highlights the invariable character of certain formal structures, which act as fixed points in the evolution of architecture and its styles.


We often find references to certain architectural types in which the designation according to each style has a chronological dimension, which seems to link it to specific historical circumstances.


This terminology seems to contradict our definition of type as a permanent principle and, therefore, protected from the flow of time. In reality, this contradiction does not exist because if we purify these designations of contingent attributes, their structural condition is revealed to us.


Some borderline cases show us the idea of a type of architecture indissolubly linked to a specific historical event. This is the case of the Greek peripteral temple and the Roman theater.


History, types and architectural styles

Through the idea of the type of architecture, we seek a knowledge of architecture that is indifferent to chronology. This temporal suspension of historical time allows us to find structural analogies between buildings of different styles and physiognomies. It is history that serves as the starting point for any search for intelligibility.


History and typology are presented as two complementary aspects, as history shows processes in transformation, typological analysis is based on what remains identical.


We can say that types as an essential condition of architecture can only be understood through its history.


Some critics to resolve this conflict between the type and its temporality tend to circumscribe the notion of type in the narrow margins of a dichotomy according to which the type is a mere by-product of the historical process, a result to which would lead mechanically the material development and repetition of identical needs, or it would be a historical and superhuman category, pre-existent to its particular manifestations.


The architectural types created by us derive from our effort to make the deep structure of the material world recognizable and intelligible.


The type is the product of a human work capable of understanding reality and endowing it with order through architecture.


When we speak of types we cannot, therefore, refer to historical categories because, escaping strictly evolutionary explanations and chronological reductions, they germinate and are necessarily and fatally transformed in the terrain of historical experience.


We have therefore selected different types of architecture with styles and characteristics to help narrow the field of architectural visualization when appreciating a building from the outside.


Victorian Architecture

During the Victorian era this archetype (mid to late 19th century) saw the return of many architectural styles, including Gothic Revival, Tudor and Romanesque, as well as Asian and Middle Eastern influences. Throughout the industrial revolution, many houses were built in the Victorian style as part of the real estate boom of that era.


Characteristics: The Dollhouse effect, with its elaborate moldings, sash windows, bay windows, imposing 2 or 3 stories, asymmetrical shape, steeply pitched Mansard roof, wrap-around porches and bright colors. This look took root in many homes in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.


Islamic Architecture

Beginning with Middle Eastern architecture in the 7th century, the type of Islamic influenced architecture set the tone making it highly variable depending on the region, such as Persia, North Africa and Spain. A mosque is the best example of Islamic styles, including pointed arches, domes and courtyards. The decoration of flat surfaces has priority, since the Koran forbids three-dimensional representations.


Characteristics: The horseshoe arch and geometric designs focus more on enclosed spaces and interior perforated screens than exterior ones.


Romanesque Architecture

Also known as the Norman TYPE of architecture, it emerged throughout Europe at the end of the 10th century. Its distinguishing feature is the round-headed arch, usually found in Romanesque style churches, of which they are the main survivors of the period.


Characteristics: round arches, repetition of rows of round-headed arches, stylized floral and foliate stone decorations, and cable moldings around doorways in the form of twisted rope.


Baroque Architecture

The artistic style of Baroque originated at the end of the 16th century in Italy. The history of the name is associated with Portuguese sailors, who by the word baroque denoted defective pearls of irregular shape. The Italians gladly adopted the term, combining it with strange and elegant manifestations of the new cultural trend.


Baroque appearance is associated with the extinction of the Renaissance: abandoning the idea of classical harmony and strict world order, the creators focused on the struggle of the mind and feelings. From now on, they focus on the forces of the elements, expression and mysticism.

During the 17-18 centuries of Baroque architecture, art and music spread widely in Europe and America, reached Russia. The heyday of the style coincided with the strengthening of absolute monarchies, the development of the colonies, the strengthening of Catholicism. It is logical that in urban planning it was manifested by scale and monumentality.


Baroque elements

Solemn, complex and richly decorated style was used in the construction of city palaces, residences and monasteries. The architectural solutions of court architects are subordinated to one idea: to amaze and admire.



The main characteristic of the Baroque is the creation of a curved space, where planes and volumes are curvilinear and flow into each other, the planes are dominated by ellipses and rectangles.


The facade design is widely used in facade design, when a part of the wall is exposed a little forward or, on the contrary, is deepened with all the elements. The result is an alternation of convex and concave sections with a spatial illusion effect. Even more expressive is the facade composition of all kinds of bay windows, towers and balconies.


Exterior and interior decoration

The main characteristics of the Baroque are also excessive ornamentation, which gave many reasons for accusations of insipidity.


The walls almost disappear under moldings, paintings, carved panels, sculptures, columns and mirrors. The aspiration to giganticism is manifested in heavy furniture, large cabinets, stairs. Speaking briefly about the baroque, it is a style of excesses. By alternating illuminated and shaded areas, adjustable side lighting patterns created optical effects of expansion of space. Gold, blue and pink colors set the mood for a festive atmosphere.


Features: Broken fronts, `broken' at the apex, sometimes with a crowning ornament placed in the center, elaborate ornamentation, paired columns, convex and concave walls.


Tudor in Architecture

Tudor architecture is the final style of the medieval period in England between the 1400s and 1600s. While the Tudor Arch or Four Centres Arch is the distinguishing feature, most people would recognize timber-framed houses from the Tudor era.


Features: thatched roof, casement windows (diamond-shaped glass panels with lead moldings), masonry chimneys, elaborate doors.


Bauhaus Architecture

The Bauhaus was originally a school that managed an art form in Germany in the early 1900s, with the idea that all art and technology would be unified under the idea of simplistic design and mass production. Rejecting decorative details, the designs favored function. Flat roofs and cubic forms were the main key to their success. Bauhaus principles of cubic shapes and angles can be seen in modernist designs.


Characteristics: cubic shapes, primary colors of red, blue and yellow, open floor plans, flat roofs, steel frames, glass curtain walls.


Neo-classical architecture

Neoclassicism, considered a response to Baroque and Rococo, emerged in the mid-18th century with the aim of restoring nobility and grandeur to architecture. Its inspiration was taken from the classical styles of buildings and designs of ancient Greece and Rome. Simplicity and symmetry were the central values.


Characteristics: Grandeur of scale, blank walls, excessive use of columns, free-standing columns, large buildings, clean lines.


Renaissance Architecture

Renaissance architectural style appeared in Europe in the XIV-XVI centuries. The style brought back ancient traditions, the system of order, which were combined with national motifs and local building materials. Buildings emphasize the simplicity of lines, planes, proportionality, symmetry, rhythmic division of facades, horizontal direction. The proportionality between the size of the structure and the size of the human body is returned.


Pattern Influenced by classical styles, the Renaissance style appeared in Italy during and was characterized by harmony, clarity and strength. Designs were intended to reflect the elegance and ideals of domestic life and clues were taken from Roman ruins.


Characteristics: square buildings, flat roofs, classical motifs, arches and domes, Roman-type columns, enclosed courtyards, vaulted arcades.


Gothic Architecture

This style is distinguished by the characteristic of its elongated and spacious proportions, extending far over the premises, where a person would feel a very small creation. As a counterbalance to the uselessness of the flesh, bright colors flourished in the slender stone-laced Gothic buildings, it was a time of renaissance of colorful stained glass windows in the form of lancet windows. This construction system made it possible to achieve great heights of arches, with the help of large windows, high quality lighting.


From the middle of the 12th century, the Gothic type of architecture borrowed flourishes and features from earlier styles and used them all together. Styles more decorative than classical, walls were thinner, columns more slender, windows adorned with stained glass and designed to draw the eye upward.


Characteristics: height and grandeur, pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, and light and airy buildings.


Modern Architecture

Modernism is a general term given to a movement in the early 20th century that can include styles such as Futurism, Postmodernism, and New Classical. The forms were intended to be free of unnecessary detail with a focus on simplicity, and the materials used are respected rather than hidden.


Characteristics: lack of decoration, low buildings, use of modern materials, interaction with interior and exterior spaces, use of sun and shade for human comfort, use of glass and natural light.