From the 5th century onwards, the Roman Empire dissapeared. In 395 CE, after the death of Theodosius, the empire was divided into Eastern and Western Roman Empire. In 476 CE the western Roman Empire disappears, while in the east it is maintained and developed, with its center in Constantinople. The construction of Roman public buildings was practically paralyzed in the 5th century CE.
High middle ages:
The byzantine (6th century)
Byzantine architecture is mostly religious with an emphasis on the interior. The only architectural ensemble of relevance is the Great Palace of Constantinople, a fortified citadel with imperial palaces, military installations, public buildings and around thirty churches.
As a consecuence of charitable activities, there was also a demand to construct buildings for such purposes, such as
hospices, hospitals and orphanages. Roads are modified in order to link religious buildings. Stone is widely used, especially the one expelled to the oldest buildings, either in a hurry in construction or to save on materials.
During the Justinian emperor period the most important churches were built. Hagia Sophia represents the union between the Empire and the Church, a cube topped by a dome (the earth covered by the dome of heaven).
The dome is placed on four triangular concave pendentives that serve as a transition between the circular shape of the dome and the rectangular base. In the interior, they tried to create a mystical image of heaven, with the use of mosaics that clad the domes with dim and trembling light, tried to recreate the heaven on earth. Byzantine architecture is the architecture of heaven, full of symbolism.
The dimensions of existing cities tend to get smaller, and new cities develop in very small areas compared to the past, in order to concentrate resources and have a better defense in case of attack. In this way, a defensive lifestyle is acquired, especially in the peripheries of the empire. The implementation and maintenance of defensive systems, as well as the collection and distribution of water, were of great importance.
The Byzantines brought different novelties to the military architecture: killers in the patrol paths from where to throw on the attackers all kinds of projectiles ; blinds to defend the accesses. Justinian began a systematic program of
reinforcement of the cities, restoring the ancient walls and adding a large number of fortified centers. It is the passage from the city to the military fortification.
The Lombards (6th-8th century)
They were Romanized populations and converted to Christianity since the 5th century. With almost no architectural tradition and no familiarity with stone constructions due to their nomadic character, they acquire a uniform style. They had great training in goldsmithing.
The Visigoths (7th-8th century)
Between the middle of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, an ecclesiastical architecture was developed that takes up the model of the traditional Roman basilica and delineates a central floor typology with massive forms influenced by the Aegean and Syrian areas.
Carolingian Empire (9th century)
They are known by the desire to reaffirm classical art in order to emulate the Roman Empire. For this reason, a
systematic recovery is carried out that involves different artistic influences in order to legitimize and celebrate the empire. Religion is fundamental for the construction of monasteries throughout Europe, which in turn amplify the new culture and participate in the administration of the territory. For the first time, monumental buildings such as palaces, cathedrals and monasteries were built again.
The Saxons (9th-10th centuary)
The Otonians collected the Carolingian stylistic and cultural reminiscences to confirm the existence of a link with the Christian emperors. They dedicated themselves to the construction of religious buildings such as abbeys and cathedrals, inspired by Roman basilicas.
Islamic (8th-15th century)
Islamic culture and architecture developed in most of the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and 15th centuries. There are still traces of many fortresses, as well as the urban layout of cities and towns. A common feature of Islamic architecture is the use of towers and water. Towers are defensive elements but also viewpoints over the landscape. In the gardens they design water routes and introduce different aromatic plants.
Islamic architecture produces new architectural types such as mosques and baths for hygienic and religious purposes.
The ornamentation serves to create an atmosphere through plays of light and color. The decorative motifs are based on the repetition of geometric motifs. Techniques such as ceramics and plaster are used.
Romanesque (10th-12th century)
Romanesque is associated with the art of the Normans , who in these centuries experienced their maximum diffusion.
Due to the political instability, the feudal lords usually fortify the cities and the palaces that become castles. Because of the evangelization of religious orders, crusades and pilgrimages, the Romanesque is spread throughout Europe, giving rise to a multitude of variants.
The Christian religion increased its political and international role in the face of feudal divisions. It undertakes a work of education and mass evangelization, to such an extent that architecture and art are loaded with symbolism and lose
Religious buildings are books made of stone, characterized by large masses and heavy proportions. It is based on the use of the semicircular arch and the Roman vaults, which due to their weight require the thickening of the walls as opposed to the use of pillars and the adjacent buttresses. For this reason, openings are so reduced.
Gothic (12th-15th century)
It expands mainly in the furthest from the classical context territories, considered as well as the art of the barbarians.
The Norman builders began to test a novel system consisting of reinforcing the Roman vault with diagonal ribs that allowed the resulting panels to be lightened with different materials. Walls then opened and temples became full of light. It is understood that absorbing weight vertically is easier than absorbing lateral forces. In addition, the semicircular arch limited the height by its 1:2 ratio. Hence the invention of the pointed or ogival arch, which is the great innovation of this style. Unlike Classical architecture, Gothic architecture was able to express the play of forces
acting in the building in a condition of dynamic balance. Form, dimension and material of each element respond to the structural needs in a coherent way.
They were a great testing ground for architectural experimentation, including a series of improvements such as pointed arches and ribbed vaults. Pointed arch meant the almost total elimination of the walls of the church by colored membranes, which represented the scenes of the sacred scriptures, and the increase in the height of the naves.
The stone structure of ashlars gave way to lighter materials in the panels, above the vaults, in the façades and in the roofs. There is an external shoring system for the arches of the central naves as well as a system of stabilisation of the structure by means of pinnacles and needles, which also increase the effect of verticality. The decorations are usually very fine frescoes directly on the stone or on altarpieces, with religious motifs, starry skies and sometimes feigned stone or brick. Sculpture returns once again to naturalistic realism, in order to be more convincing in its educational purpose.
There is a multitude of civil buildings, an expression of the new bourgeois social class and its new demands, such as: moment, town halls, stately palaces, universities, fortresses, bastions, bridges, bell towers or shipyards.
In the 15th century in Italy, mainly in Florence, an important urban culture emerged, so merchants and bankers became protectors of art and ordered buildings for themselves or for the city.
The interest in the recovery of Romanity arose in Italy and then spread to Europe, with the idea of matching the intellectual and artistic achievements of classical antiquity.
The new architecture had to be rationally understandable, formed by planes and spaces organized according to clear
and decipherable numerical proportions. With delimitations and intervals well delineated by the elements of the architectural orders of the Ancient times, but at the same time inviting to the human delight (L. Roth).
Baroque period (17th-18th century)
Linked to the monarchy, the aristocracy and the Church. It also shows an interest in the natural environment. Baroque architecture and the subsequent rococo is an effort to obtain the maximum possible effects from the moulded space, the manipulation of light, colour and sensual detail.
The structure took a back seat. The focus was on the visual effect and decoration. The dividing line between reality and illusion is blurred, with decorations that rise towards the sky that frame the scenes. It is an artistic expression in which fantasy, mutability, the multiplication of scenographic effects, asymmetry, the use of lights, water and the movement of space intervene.
Rococo (18th century):
More than a current, Rococo is an artistic fashion born in the French courtly environments. It is distinguished by the frivolity and superficiality of a decorations faithful to themselves, with the aim of surprising and ostentation. The interiors are an ambient plaster shell subtly used to define the space and to manipulate natural lighting, but it hides the structure and detaches itself from it.
Neoclassicism (18th century):
There are several aesthetic approaches in this period. The excavations of Pompeii, Ercolano, Pæstum, Diocletian’s Palace, and the publications of treatises on ancient art begin. Other circumstances converged: the chronicles of the enlightened travellers and the foundation of the first museums.
After the excesses of the baroque and rococo, a radical change towards a rational architecture was experienced, in which the dominion of the structural truth over the visual effect was recovered.
Neoclassical style was linked to the idea of public service and educational functions of the buildings, as well as the Greek agora that was configured by stoas, large and elongated public buildings. It was in this context where museums
were born with a didactic function: the functions were studied, and a rational floor was designed to serve these with areas dedicated to painting and sculpture.
Some French architects reinvented an architecture of pure geometric forms to express the interior functionand proposed an architectural revolution being in a way pioneers of modern architecture.
The industrialization of the western world produced an increase in population and a migratory phenomenon towards the cities, which were left insufficient: the walls were demolished, the expansion began with industrial and worker neighbourhoods, new construction typologies appeared. New construction materials provided by industry appeared: cast iron and glass. Polytechnic schools and international exhibitions are founded, experimenting with new materials and shapes.
In rejection of the new industrial spirit, a desire to evade reality and a desire for past times spread, giving rise to historicism and exoticism or a mixture of styles. In the mid-nineteenth century in response to the course of evasion to the subconscious and romantic born a new vision of art more realistic that evidences the conditions of society with crude reality.
20th century has a huge variety of artistic currents, such as: Modernisme, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Neoplasticism and Modernism.
One of the predominant aspects of the 1950s and 1960s is the need to measure oneself against the change brought about by the masters of the Modern Movement: faced with their great contribution, the dichotomy is either continuity or revision. Beyond this duality, the great complexity of proposals that existed in the architecture of the first decades of the century, at the same time as the Modern Movement, is being revealed.