The Basic Architectural Styles: Understanding the Building Blocks of Design

The Basic Architectural Styles: Understanding the Building Blocks of Design

Architecture is a diverse field encompassing various styles and design philosophies. A solid understanding of basic architectural styles and their design building blocks can help you appreciate the art and history of architecture. This guide will introduce you to some of the core architectural designs and their unique features.

Classical Architecture

Classical architecture is one of the foundational design styles that has significantly influenced Western architecture. Inspired by the ancient Greeks and Romans, classical architecture is characterized by:

  • Symmetrical facades
  • Use of columns (Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian)
  • Entablatures and pediments
  • Domes and arches

Notable examples of classical architecture include the Parthenon in Greece and the Pantheon in Rome.

Gothic Architecture

Originating in medieval Europe, Gothic architecture is an intro to architectural styles that emphasizes height and verticality. The style’s key characteristics include:

  • Pointed arches
  • Ribbed vaults
  • Flying buttresses
  • Ornate tracery and stained glass windows

Gothic architecture is most commonly seen in churches and cathedrals, such as Notre-Dame de Paris and Chartres Cathedral.

Renaissance Architecture

Renaissance architecture is a revival of classical styles that emerged in Italy during the 15th century. Essential home styles from this period showcase:

  • Symmetrical facades with clearly defined proportions
  • Classical elements such as columns, arches, and pediments
  • Geometric forms and mathematical precision
  • Detailed ornamentation

Examples of Renaissance architecture include the Florence Cathedral and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Modernist Architecture

Modernist architecture, a 20th-century movement, emphasizes function and simplicity. The architecture fundamentals of this style include:

  • Minimal ornamentation and clean lines
  • Open floor plans and flexible interior spaces
  • Large windows and an emphasis on natural light
  • Use of modern materials such as steel, glass, and concrete

Modernist architecture is exemplified by structures like the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier and the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe.

Understanding Architecture: Exploring Additional Styles

While the styles mentioned above represent some of the key design styles in architecture, there are many more to explore. For a more comprehensive understanding of the architecture basics, consider studying:

  • Baroque architecture
  • Art Deco architecture
  • International Style architecture
  • Brutalist architecture
  • Postmodern architecture

By familiarizing yourself with these and other styles, you will develop a more profound architecture appreciation and expand your knowledge of the world’s architectural heritage.


Understanding the basic architectural styles and their design building blocks is essential for anyone interested in the field. By exploring these core architectural designs, you can learn the language of architecture and appreciate the history and artistry of the world’s most iconic buildings. To continue your journey into the world of architecture, consider visiting authoritative resources such as the ArchDaily website or taking courses on architecture history and theory.