History of architecture

The history of architecture is the part of cultural studies, with an engineering and sociological methodology focuses mainly on art history and secondarily with the historical dimension of architecture.


Architectural history explores the history of architecture, so the buildings of architectural theory and discourse about architecture, as well as urban planning and settlement history. Even if the history of urban development is a separate branch of architectural history, so can do without the urban dimension of an architectural history of never.


Because each time, every country and every region has its own shaping of architecture, would like to come this phenomenon to track the history of architecture. It determines the relevant personal, local and temporal factors that come into play in the construction of a building, or, at a higher level, in the character of a period or epoch. The aim is to understand the cultural and historical significance of the architecture within the social context. Since the 1980s, has initially within the historic preservation and soon prevailed beyond the thought of all eras, and also objectifies the modern and post-war modernism to see so that, and not to discriminate about one of them, by denying her the historicity.


As the architecture is in their everyday practice and its social perception in a mediating role between art and function, also applies the architectural history both methods of art history, as well as the art, the history of technology and sociology. Specifically, no building can be examined without the artistic aspect, for example the design of the structure, the combination of materials, etc. is seen together with the technical aspect. The technical aspects include about structural engineering, materials production, availability and texture. In particular, the construction techniques are a central distinguishing feature of different times, but always attach to them and the specific design of the buildings together. This methodology is one of the modern age, it is however to be found also in Vitruvius or Palladio.

The operation of the architectural historian can therefore be described as follows:

Often the history of architecture is initially based on a structural analysis without touching the historical context directly. This means that you first describes and assesses how to buildings with materials, construction, function, space, decoration, color, etc. is handled. In this phase the " Building Archaeology " plays a significant role. It makes the graphic and photographic documentation of a building with all its parts and also makes use of various analytical methods of dating.

The second step, which sometimes occurs earlier, is the search for font sources and other statements to the building, such as building offices and other archives, interviewing witnesses and residents. Even reading relevant publications is one of them. Finally, the environment must be analyzed, in which the structure stands.

The results of the two steps will be taken to a local, personal and historical context: the context of the clients intention and his social position, etc., as well as the architect 's personality and, finally, the contexts in which materials and techniques are each. The structure can thus eventually be understood in its implications, which led to its specific expression. The synopsis of many of these individual analyzes leads to an understanding of remuneration, where a period or epoch of the history of architecture is related to their specific expression.

The discourse on methodology and delimitation

Architectural history corresponds to a social task. For substantive delimitation and methodology, however, both trade representatives as well as representatives from neighboring disciplines have expressed different views.

A background of the dispute is the dispute over whether architecture is an art or a feat of engineering. The assignment to the (construction) of art or engineering means that the subject either art history or the history of technology and is specifically assigned to the younger professional structural engineering history. 2005 in the introduction speeches of the art historian day the opinion was expressed, architectural history should not be named as a separate subject. Here was leading opinion on the part of art historians considers architectural history could limit itself to the study of artistic aspects and should therefore not be separated from the history of art. From the architectural community, there is the objection, architectural history is not a subject in its own territory, but part of the architecture. The Cologne church architect Rudolf Schwarz took the view in 1953, architects should seek failed in the history of architecture no "surplus humanities to bed ." Black believed that architects themselves should explore the history of architecture, and was no depression in an academic humanities.

Contrary to this variety of conflicting positions represents the definition given here the view that architectural history is an independent complex trade with a sophisticated methodological repertoire. History of Architecture strives to take into account technical, artistic, cultural, historical and biographical aspects in order to arrive at an adequate understanding of the cultural phenomenon of architecture.


You might already ancient architect Vitruvius in his book " De Architectura ", or about the Renaissance writers Alberti and Palladio described as architectural historian, but the difference with the modern architectural history of the 19th and 20th century is striking: the older theorists have their work mainly seen in terms of a collection of patterns, which they interpret, on which to base their own architectural theory.

The beginnings of architectural history research are in any case particularly the city of Rome, which they recorded the exact measurements, in the interest of Italian Renaissance architect at the ancient architecture and analyzed in order to gain inspiration for their own works. In the 18th century European educational travelers investigated in the course of their Grand Tour to the art cities of Italy and described the local architectural masterpieces, with the focus primarily focused as a model epochs on ancient and modern times. In the context of the rediscovery of ancient architecture (such as Pompeii in the 1750s, or Troy 1830 ), ancient architecture was palpable over the previous canon beyond. But Chance also appeared already the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages north of the Alps in the view that are admired as objects of local or national history and as technical masterpieces. In France, England and Germany we saw the " Gothic " style as a national achievement. After the antiquity was replaced as the only standard of art with the end of classicism, led the search for historical models for the art of the present to a more intensive study of the architecture of all times and peoples. In the course of the flowering of historical science and the academic art history in the 19th century style categories (see stylistics ) were trained for the analysis of architectural history. However, the demarcation of eras with each other only develops over time. " Gothic " and " Romanesque " are terms from the history of architecture, which have spread throughout the history of style. The study of the national monuments was started in parallel to the beginnings of historic preservation. From the restoration work of the architects (eg Viollet -le- Duc ) to the medieval cathedrals, many findings were the construction history. Local and regional historical research by historical societies ( England is a pioneer with its Archaeological Societies, in France, the sociétés Archéologiques follow this example ) are among the first overviews (eg Franz Kugler, history of architecture. Stuttgart 1856-1859 ). Teaching at the Schools of Architecture directed increasingly historical. During the 19th century, people turned to more and more neglected and disregarded as the Baroque eras. Here, the research interest was always in a context with the aesthetic prejudices of their presence. The urban planning tasks of the period aroused interest in the city's history and historic urban planning. The Modern and the following currents never imagine despite the radical stylistic innovations outside reception historic building concepts.

Vitruvius wrote as an architect for architects. Modern architectural history explores architecture as a cultural phenomenon for the general public. It goes beyond a pure Baukunde and heritage research and takes place in interdisciplinary approaches such as Urban Studies, Planning and Landscape Planning application. Long and it detects the construction of all cultures in a global perspective.

Architectural history as a field of study

Architectural history is not usually studied as a separate subject, but instead a combination of subjects that serve in understanding the special operation of the history of architecture, such as art history, architecture, historic preservation. Also Classical Archaeology is often used as a study of architectural historians.

Areas of application

A person who operates professionally and architectural history with a critical awareness methods, is called architectural historian. Architectural history has many useful applications, three of which, however, are the most common: architecture, historic preservation and city tours.

Architects use architectural history to find for current projects suggestions, to compare dealing with similar problems or tune a building with its environment, ie either fit or discontinued. In the case of deliberately chosen adaptation is ultimately a case of cityscape care or historic preservation.

In the historic preservation research into the history of architecture at first aimed at an evaluation of the buildings of an area, to determine which have such a high cultural and historic value, that they must be registered with scientific reasoning as a historic structure ( phase of an inventory). The architecture historical study of registered monuments is their protection. So must the one hand by the Building Research a buildings are in its parts (previously in the phase of inventorying as a whole as ) to decide which necessarily know which and which are not worthy of protection due ( phase the accompaniment of a construction project ). On the other hand, serve the historical architectural publications of the monuments to the public mediation of the monuments. These publications contribute to the means of persuasion to protect them.

In the area of ​​tourism and city guides, the architectural history of a city or area is the most forceful means to explain its character and identity.