The world is filled with glimmering edifices that are a testament to the great achievements of mankind. The mighty pyramids of Giza, the oldest man-made structures on earth, and the majestic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, are separated by eons and distance but are united by the principles of architecture. Although architecture is a term that can be used to define various forms of creative processes, in its most basic definition, architecture is the art or science of designing and erecting building. It is a field that has been meticulously perfected over numerous millennia, and it is now the starting point for all construction projects. In the ancient world, mankind’s need for security and comfort drove our earliest ancestors into prehistoric caves. It is this search for shelter and coziness that lit a bulb in the still evolving minds of early man and inspired cave art and other primitive forms of creativity. This was all in an attempt to make the foreboding caves more homely and to leave a historical record of their primeval surroundings. Yet it is this humble beginning that sparked the revolution that became architecture. The Egyptians and Mesopotamians undoubtedly led the pack in advancing architecture. Their knowledge of geometry, the use of gypsum plaster or bitumen and the vast droves of workers were the key driver that made the pyramids a reality.
Ancient forms of architecture, like the Sphinx, are still marvels to behold but were mostly built out of a sense of spiritual fulfillment and as a statement of grandeur in the new blossoming civilization. More conventional and practical forms of architecture were developed by the Roman Empire. ‘De architectura,’ a manuscript that was written in the 1st century AD is the earliest publication on architecture that is still in existence. This book, written by the roman architect Vitruvius, laid down the three main principles of architecture; beauty, utility and durability. The existence of the Roman Empire was characterized by construction projects that were grand in all ways imaginable. The state of Rome, flaunted its financial power and engineering prowess to the world and this was midwifed through the skills of its architects. Buildings constructed by the Roman Empire, like the aqueducts and the Colosseum still stand today. It is the Romans who brought us ground breaking advancements like the use of concrete, arches, domes and vaults, which revolutionized how structures were created and enabled the actualization of dazzling monuments like the pantheon dome.
As much as it is an art, today architecture has undoubtedly flourished and matured into a science. Although different parts of the world have various architectural styles and signatures, the basic principles and essentials have been brought together making it easier to train new generations of skilled architects. Architecture has not only become a mainstream field of study, but a prestigious profession. It is a field that allows practitioners to leave an indelible mark on the skylines of civilization and to contribute to the socio-economic advancement of humanity. There are several forms of architecture that deal will various aspects of construction. These include design architecture, landscape architecture, architectural engineering, and architectural management among many others. Since this field is predominantly about creating buildings for people to work or live in, architects have to be thoroughly trained and very competent. Inasmuch as architecture involves quite a bit of creativity, safety is always paramount.
Architecture is not only about creating pretty structures and buildings; it is a profession that requires dedication and a different way of thinking. It provides a platform for creativity to run wild. This is exemplified by some of the most awe inspiring buildings ever created, like the British houses of parliament, the Sidney opera house, the crystal cathedral, the Taj Mahal, even the skyline of Manhattan. These truly are magnificent tributes to the creative genius of mankind.
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