What is Architecture?

Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or other structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

the art or science of building; especially, the art of building houses, churches, bridges, and other structures, for the purposes of civil life; — often called civil architecture

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Theory of architecture

The philosophy of architecture is a branch of philosophy of art, dealing with the aesthetic value of architecture, its semantics, and relations with the development of culture. Many philosophers and theoreticians frome Plato to Michel FoucaultGilles DeleuzeRobert Venturi, and Ludwig Wittgenstein have concerned themselves with the nature of architecture and whether or not architecture is distinguished from the building.

Historic treatises

The earliest surviving written work on the subject of architecture is De architectura by the Roman architect Vitruvius in the early 1st century AD.[9] According to Vitruvius, a good building should satisfy the three principles of firmitas, utilitas, venustas,[10][11] commonly known by the original translation – firmness, commodity, and delight. An equivalent in modern English would be:

Durability – a building should stand up robustly and remain in good condition

Utility – it should be suitable for the purposes for which it is used

Beauty – it should be aesthetically pleasing

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According to Vitruvius, the architect should strive to fulfill each of these three attributes as well as possible. Leon Battista Alberti, who elaborates on the ideas of Vitruvius in his treatise, De re aedificatoria, saw beauty primarily as a matter of proportion, although ornament also played a part. For Alberti, the rules of proportion were those that governed the idealized human figure, the Golden mean.

Modern concepts

The notable 19th-century architect of skyscrapers, Louis Sullivan, promoted an overriding precept to architectural design: “Form follows function“.

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While the notion that structural and aesthetic considerations should be entirely subject to functionality was met with both popularity and skepticism, it had the effect of introducing the concept of “function” in place of Vitruvius‘ “utility”. “Function” came to be seen as encompassing all criteria of the use, perception, and enjoyment of a building, not only practical but also aesthetic, psychological, and cultural.

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