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Architectural Terms & Definitions

Discover everything about the main architectural terms in our glossary and take the opportunity to find out how Millhawlk can help you

What is Architectural Style?

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What is Architectural Style?

Architectural style refers to a specific set of characteristics and design elements that define a particular type of architecture. It encompasses the overall look and feel of a building or structure, including its materials, forms, and decorative details. Architectural style is influenced by various factors such as cultural, historical, and geographical contexts.

Types of Architectural Styles

There are numerous architectural styles that have emerged throughout history, each with its own unique features and characteristics. Some of the most well-known architectural styles include Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Modernist, and Postmodernist. Each style reflects the prevailing aesthetic and design principles of its time.

Characteristics of Architectural Styles

Architectural styles are defined by a combination of key characteristics that distinguish them from one another. These characteristics can include elements such as building materials, structural systems, ornamentation, and spatial organization. By studying these characteristics, architects and historians can identify and classify different architectural styles.

Evolution of Architectural Styles

Architectural styles evolve over time in response to changing cultural, social, and technological influences. For example, the shift from traditional to modernist architecture in the 20th century was driven by advancements in construction techniques and materials, as well as a desire for simplicity and functionality. The evolution of architectural styles reflects the dynamic nature of the built environment.

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Influences on Architectural Styles

Architectural styles are influenced by a wide range of factors, including historical events, technological advancements, cultural movements, and individual architects’ design philosophies. For example, the Gothic style was inspired by medieval cathedrals and religious symbolism, while the Modernist style was influenced by industrialization and the principles of the Bauhaus school.

Regional Architectural Styles

Different regions around the world have developed their own unique architectural styles based on local traditions, materials, and climate conditions. For example, the adobe architecture of the American Southwest is adapted to the desert environment, while the timber-framed houses of Scandinavia reflect the region’s abundance of wood resources. Regional architectural styles showcase the diversity of design approaches across cultures.

Revival of Architectural Styles

Throughout history, architects have often looked to the past for inspiration, leading to revivals of earlier architectural styles. For example, the Greek Revival style in the 19th century drew on classical Greek architecture, while the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s was influenced by ancient Egyptian and Aztec motifs. Revivals of architectural styles demonstrate the enduring appeal of certain design traditions.

Contemporary Architectural Styles

In the present day, architects continue to explore new forms, materials, and technologies, leading to the development of contemporary architectural styles. These styles often prioritize sustainability, innovation, and social responsibility, reflecting current concerns about climate change, urbanization, and social equity. Contemporary architectural styles push the boundaries of traditional design conventions.

Importance of Architectural Styles

Architectural styles play a crucial role in shaping the built environment and influencing the way we experience and interact with spaces. They reflect the values, beliefs, and aspirations of a society at a particular moment in time, serving as a visual record of cultural history. Understanding architectural styles allows us to appreciate the richness and diversity of architectural expression.


Architectural style is a multifaceted and dynamic aspect of architecture that encompasses a wide range of influences, characteristics, and historical developments. By studying architectural styles, we gain insight into the evolution of design practices and the cultural significance of built forms. Whether traditional, modern, or contemporary, architectural styles continue to inspire and shape the world around us.

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