The Spread of Western Classical Architecture, Essay Example

Published: 2022-04-29
The Spread of Western Classical Architecture, Essay Example
Type of paper:  Term paper
Categories:  Architecture
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1847 words
16 min read

Classical architecture is an architecture that is mainly associated with Greek and Roman origins. Classical architecture originated in Rome and Greece between the 3rd and 5th centuries BC. These styles are primarily identified through the use of columns and beams. These styles have been used across the world. Colonization and missionary work are the two main ways through which western classical architecture has been spread out to other parts of the world. This paper discusses the spread of western classical architecture.

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The most ancient records of classical architecture were seen in Greece; the Greek began the use of columns and beams as an essential part of buildings in the 3rd century. In Greece, these designs were initially used for religious buildings such as temples. In the late 5th century BC the architectural designs were mainly used in secular buildings. Theatres were very common at the time in Greece, and many of them were constructed in the classical architecture.

Classical architecture was adopted in Rome in the 5th century BC. There are three main elements to classical architecture. They are referred to as the classical orders. These elements are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These three elements emerged and were formalized during the civilization era. These three elements have greatly influenced architecture in North Africa, Asia, Jerusalem, and America. In this paper, western architecture refers to the architecture in Europe and other regions that are greatly influenced by and share in the culture of Europeans.

The spread of classical architecture can be analyzed through the different time periods in architecture. These are; metal age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. These cultural periods greatly influenced the extent to which western classical designs have been adopted in other parts of the world.

The spread of western classical architecture began with the influence of Greek architecture on the Romans. Rome was quite famous at the time for their prowess in the areas of engineering and architecture. The Romans were however greatly influenced by Greek designs. The Romans added an aesthetic feel to Greek architecture. The most illustrative example of the influence is through the adoption of the three orders. These orders were the Doric, the Corinthian, and the Ionic orders. Some of the most common buildings that point to this influence are basilicas. Basilicas were found in every major Roman town. They were the roman version of a social hall. People met in basilicas to deal with legal matters or to transact any exchanges of goods and services. Activities such as taxation were also frequently carried out in Basilicas. The Stoa influenced the basilica. Stoa is a Greek structure that contained columns and was built for public use. The design of a Stoa was meant for the convenience and capability of handling many people. Stoae were closed on one side. Basilicas in Rome, unlike Stoas in Greece, were fully enclosed. The remains of the Basilica at Pompeii are an illustration of the Greek influence in the construction of Basilicas (Ingersoll & Kostof, 2013).

Western classical architecture led to the origin of neoclassical architecture. Neoclassical architecture is a form of architecture that is based on the simplicity of the structures. Geometric forms in neoclassical buildings are simple and purpose oriented. Neoclassical architecture became very popular in the late 1700s and the early 1800s all the way to the middle of the 19th century. Greek and Roman architectural designs greatly influence neoclassical architecture. The use of domes and columns is an example of the influence of classical architecture on neoclassical designs.

Neoclassical designs were trendy in North America. The colonization of America by the British was the main factor that led to an infusion of classical architecture into neoclassical designs. The Lincoln Memorial in the USA is an example of a neoclassical style building. The Baltimore Basilica, which was the first Roman Catholic Church in the US, was also built in neoclassical design. Robert Adams and Benjamin Henry were pioneers in the neoclassical designs in the US (Panofsky, 2018).

Neoclassical architecture was also prevalent in Russia in the 19th century. Neoclassical buildings were part of the description and characteristic of Saint Petersburg in Russia. A majority of the buildings in Saint Petersburg were constructed in the neoclassical style. This further illustrates the spread of western classical architecture. The influence of western classical aspects in Russia has been common even in recent years. In the late 20th century, there was a lot of influence of western classical styles in the construction of residential homes. Classical designs in Russia are associated with politicians and the elite in the society. In recent years, however, there has been infusion and influence of modern designs and structures. The influence remains evident in numerous churches, one of the most ancient being the Russian Orthodox Church next to Lake Baikal.

Western classical architecture is also evident through neoclassical designs in Spain. King Charles the third, of England intended to make Madrid the arts and science capital of the United Kingdom. This ambition led to the construction of numerous buildings in Spain that were of European style. These include summer homes for the King and museums. One of the most influential architects in Spain at the time was Juan de Villanueva. Juan was contracted by King Charles to build structures that would make the country ideal for the interests of the United Kingdom. Greek designs greatly influenced the work of Juan. The use of columns and beams point to the western influence on the designs. The Prado museum in Madrid is an example of the classical architecture influence in Spain. The museum was meant to serve as an academy, a museum, and an auditorium. There are three entrances to the building to serve the three purposes.

Western classical architecture led to the emergence of federal architecture in the US. Federal architecture has often been referred to as being a branch of neoclassical architecture. Classical elements of design heavily influenced federal architecture. Buildings that were designed in the federal style contained columns which are a primary characteristic of western classical architecture. Between the 1780s and the mid-1830's Federal style of architecture was used in the construction of significant buildings in the US. One of the most evident architects at the time was Thomas Jefferson who at the time designed the Charlottesville campus of the University of Virginia. The designs in the campus contained columns and colonnades which were characteristic of western classical architecture. Jefferson further designed his own home based on the federal style (Mahbubani & Summers, 2016).

The spread of western classical architecture led to the emergence of Greek revival architecture. Greek revival architecture was very common in the construction of residential buildings and small government buildings. The style was also used in the construction of banks and other buildings that were open to the public. Classical styles highly influenced the Greek revival style, the most common influence being the Doric order. The buildings contained Doric columns. The Second Bank of the US in Philadelphia is evidence of the influence of classical styles in the Greek revival. The construction of the bank ended in 1824. The design of the bank got rid of the sculptural decorations but kept the Doric columns. The second bank influenced more similar designs in the US and the mid-1800's; many banks were modeled on the same plan.

Western classical architecture led to the emergence of Beaux-arts architecture. Beaux-arts architecture adopted various design characteristics of classical architecture. The most common adoption is the classical orders and utilizing marble in the building. Buildings that have the beaux-arts style are most common in the US and France. Popular buildings in the US that have been built in this style include the New York Public library, the New York Stock Exchange, and the former Penn station among others. The museum of natural history in Paris is a beaux-arts style construction. These buildings have Corinthian columns which are borrowed from classical architecture.

Beaux-arts style buildings have also been constructed in other parts of the world. The difference between these others and those in the western world is involvement of more elements of Baroque. Baroque and Rococo elements are combined with structural constructs and other realistic art forms. These buildings do, however, maintain the influence and elements of classical architecture such as columns. In Buenos Aires, Argentina there are numerous Beaux-arts buildings; the house of culture, 'Palacio del Congreso Nacional' and many other major government buildings. In Hong Kong, China there is the Pedder building and the Peak Tram office. In Australia, there is the Commonwealth bank building, the port authority building, the national theatre and other public buildings across the various cities (Ching, 2014).

Eclecticism further led to the spread of western classical architecture. Eclecticism is the combination of two or more elements from different architectural designs. These elements are merged to come up with an original structure that reflects different styles. The combined elements can be the structural designs that determine the construction of the building. The elements can also be aesthetic elements. Aesthetic factors include features that are not crucial to the structure and sustenance of the building. These can be elements to do with the interior design of the building or exterior decorations. Elements that are frequently derived from classical architecture in eclecticism include features such as columns or the decoration of buildings.

Eclecticism has been used in numerous parts of the world and has been crucial in the spreading of western classical architecture. The late 19th century saw a shift in the architectural properties of Asian, African and South American regions. This was due to an increase in external influence. At the time some of the rises in the use of eclectic designs were in ships. At the time, ships were the primary form of transport to other continents. These ships were decorated on the interior with elements that were aimed at reducing the discomfort of the user by increasing familiarity. Most of the travelers were from European countries, and therefore the ships were often donned with classical designs. Elements of carving in the construction of vessels were done in the classical architectural style.

Ships were facilitating the movement of colonizers mainly to Africa and other underdeveloped regions. The colonization led to the setting up of buildings in the colonized areas in the western classical style. The colonizers aimed at imposing their ideas on the locals and therefore the colonial structures that were set up were a symbol of the presence of the colonizer. These buildings soon became popular in many third world countries (Arnason & Mansfield, 2013).

The decline in colonization in the late 1900's led to an increase in eclecticism in the architecture of these areas. The locals in these countries wanted to detach from the traditions imposed upon them by the colonizers. This led to the change of the style of construction of government, public and residential structures. These structures however maintained elements of western classical designs. Numerous buildings in Africa and South America have elements of classical architecture in their eclecticism designs. These include museums and older government buildings.

In conclusion, the spread of western clas...

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