sdaarchi SDA Architect Time Line of History of Architecture in Antiquity | SDA Architect
During the Gothic revival the Salt Lake temple was built

 The Salt Lake temple was built during the Gothic revival

History of Architecture –Theories in Antiquity

The following will be the outline  of the History of Architecture
A) Definition of Architectural Theory
C)Principles of Classical Period-Greek and RTime line of World Architectureoman Architecture
D)Architects in Antiquity
E) Song Dynasty-LI JIE

A) Definition of Architectural Theory in History of Architecture

 Architectural theory is the act of thinking, discussing, and writing about architecture.It is also the principles of designing in architecture. A theory is a body of thoughts if Not proven wrong with time will become a hypothesis, and eventually evolved to become a LAW. Hypotheses becomes a Theses , Theses becomes Theory ,Theory will  become a LAW . Laws will eventually attempt to become scientific  truth. Newton’s Laws were proven wrong by Einstein and replace with Gravitational Theory. As such architectural theories used over the years to define art of designing buildings have been prpoven wrong and have in some instances were rediscovered and some displaced with time.As all theories eventually attain for establishing the truth.The time line of the History of Architecture shown that the early thoughts that once called the golden rule of Architecture has been found to be not true .
Here I would discuss the theories that were discusses in Architecture in antiquity in Greek and Roman times , the early times of Western civilizations.

B)Time line of World Architecture in History of Architecture

This is brief time line of the history of architecture, primarily focusing on the western civilization in comparison with the Chinese Architecture of the Sung Dynasty ( the Indian Period of Architecture has not been included in the time line.) I would add on the Indian Architectural  and Chinese Architectural periods later on for better overall perspective of the History of Architecture.

Time line of world architecture

Time line of world architecture, Bar Chart of Architecture

C)Principles of Greek and Roman Architecture in History of Architecture

The theory of Greek Architecture is centered on ‘Classical Orders’ .The Design was centered on proportions of elements and portions between the individual parts. The belief was any size of building was to be built around a rule of proportions. From this Principe derived  the three orders : the Doric, Ionic & Corinthian. The Doric orders were popular in Greece but not in other places.As these were defined by a certain proportion, the columns were placed almost in every building of importance,which expressed power and authority of the Roman Rulers.

Architectural Priorities of Ancient Rome
The Roman use buildings to wind the hearts of  the people such as the case of  rebuilding of  the Jews temple in Jerusalem, refereed to as the Herod’s Temple – to please the Jews citizens there.

As a world power they tried to impress , entertain cater for the citizens for the needs of the people. While they increased in power and majesty they reflected them by building strong and majestic buildings.

They had their share of problem such as: security, drainage, public utilities such as water supply( aqua ducts of Anio Novus), bridges (e.g. the Pont du Gard), public baths Baths (of Caracalla ),roads, sports facilities, amphitheaters(Colosseum 72-80 CE) and urban planning with 2 streets along the north-south axis grids. Rome had  5 level apartment buildings , many temples and theaters were also built.

The roman civilization which was successful to dominate the world for about a thousand years, laid the foundation to our day and age, such as the Roman letter that we use in English were from Rome, like wise our lives have been influenced by the Roman civilization in Governments(principles in government, language,democracy,senators,Olympics and in even our Buildings)

Use of Arches, Tiles & Concrete in Roman History of Architecture
Arches and Dome used in designs  were exploited to the maximum. Water ducts were supported by arches to transport water from city to city. Central large spaces for meting hall were built of Impressive domes , columns and arches to communicate the  majestic and power of the Romans.

  1. Concrete was invented by the Romans as described by Vitruvius in his book De Architectura. , called it opus cementicium, a mixture of lime mortar, sand, water, and stones. This revolutionized Roman engineering and architecture.
  2. Tiles were laid over concrete structure, in lieu of marble .Buildings were freed from the rectangular Greek design-plan and architectural layout were less geometrical and broke away from the rigid grid line designs of the Greeks traditions.
  3. Sculptures were embellished the buildings together with work of art-such as relief’s, statues, bust m mosaics decorations and mural fresco

D)Architects in Antiquity and in Rome in History of Architecture

The Architect’s in the History of Architecture of the Romans  contributed to-days principles of Architectural design and Architectural theories were Vitruvius, Abbot Suger, Leon Battista Alberti, I will discuss some of the thoughts of these men and also the work of Chinese architect at Song dynasty in China.



  • Vitruvius was a Roman writer, architect, and engineer who lived in the 1st century BCE. He was the most prominent architect in the Roman Empire, he wrote the De architectura, ( The Ten Books of Architecture), and dedicated the book to the Roman Emperor Augustus. Divided into ten sections,it covers aspect of architecture such as:
    town planning,
    building, civil, temples,
    water supplies, aqueduct
    landscape, pavements
The Classical Greek House Plan

The Greek House Plan Vitruvius Greek House Plan( from wikipedia )

  • It also proposes the three fundamental laws that an Architect must follow:
    1.) Structural adequacy
    2.) Functional adequacy
    3.) Beauty
    These are termed the Vitruvian virtues or the Vitruvian Triad.


  • The Man by Leonardo da Vinci

    Vitruvian Man redrawn by Leonardo da Vinci

    He referred to architecture as a copy of nature, as the birds construct their nest so do human build houses to give shelter from the elements that threaten him- such as sun, wind, rain and enemies. As man is of a certain proportion, so should building should be designed to have the sense of proportion. The man height was the same as the arms stretched. The Greeks invented the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian with perfect proportions base on these principles.

  • It is until these days that Architects of today still use the word proportion ,” the proportion is not right” only in a arbitrary sense. In the Romans times it was a mathematical order.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: who inscribed in the circle and the square in the Vitruvian Man, reflected this fundamental geometric pattern of the cosmic order.
  • The architects in the Renaissance architects were influenced by his teaching in his book. Architects at that time were involved in landscaping designs and Engineering works such as- civil, mechanical and structural designs.

Head of Doric Order Head of Corrinthian ColumnsIonic Capital columns

Vitruvius taught that beauty was defined by proportions and were as what he believed of a certain order:

Doric Order (1.6)

The Doric columns had the following rules in its order:
a)Vitruvius said the height of Doric columns is six or seven times the diameter at the base.
b) This gives the Doric columns a shorter, thicker, masculine appearance, whereas slender Ionic was a more feminine
c)The Doric style was common in mainland Greece and later spread to the Greek colonies in Italy.
d) Doric architecture (as in the Parthenon and the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens)
e) Doric more popular during the Classical age and for formal buildings in larger cites such as Rome.
f)It represented male body proportions as strong, masculine and stout.

Corinthian order (1:6.5)

The Corinthian columns had the following rules in its order:
a)The ratio of total column height to column-shaft height is in a 6:5 ratio
b) its proportions, the Corinthian column is similar to the Ionic column,
c) differences between these styles is n the ratio between the base diameter and height of their columns.
d) Ionic style gained the upper hand during the more relaxed Hellenistic period.

Ionic Order(1:8)

The Ionic columns had the following rules in its order:
a) Ionic columns, which have 8:1 proportions
b) represented the female body proportions, therefore it was a order suitable for libraries and courts of justice, as building were categories as male or female buildings
c)The Ionic style was built along Ionia, west coast of Turkey and Aegean.
d) the Ionic was less restrained and more decorative.

D.ii)  of the Abbot SugerMiddle Ages

a) wrote a document, Liber de rebus in administratione sua gestis,
an architectural document that emerged with gothic architecture.
b)He is possibly the Father of the Gothic period, noted for his use of stained-glass windows, a central element of Gothic architecture.
c) He is a friend of the French Kings, Louis VI and Louis VII of France
d) Abbey of Saint Denis, Paris was credited to Abbot .This building employed every Gothic styles in the architecture- pointed arches, column clusters and cross-rib vaulting
e) It was the beginning of Gothic Era, the St Denis became a proto type model for churches all over Europe to pattern after.
f) Knowledge was spread by word of mouth.
g) Most works that from this period were theological, and were transcriptions of the bible, so the architectural theories were the notes on structures included therein. Due to the laborious nature of transcription, few examples of architectural theory were penned in this time period.

St Denis, Paris,

St Denis, Paris

D.iii) Villard de Honnecourt’s
a)He left a heritage of a portfolio of drawings at about the 1230s.
b)His famed due to his uniqueness of his portfolio
c) The inventions at the 19th Century was credited to his portfolio, have built church all along the Christian world
e) He was an Architect ,
f) During the 19th Century ,at the height of Gothic Revival movement in France and England they found his portfolio drew great attention
g) From the drawing which he produced , and that we were found, it can be concluded that he was a trained mason

Architect in Antiquity-Leon Battista Alberti

Leon Battista Alberti

Div) Leon Battista Alberti

The first great work of architectural theory belongs to Leon Battista Alberti, He wrote the – De Re Aedificatoria,

  • He followed the theories of Vitruvian virtues.
  • He believed in a theory that beauty could be defined mathematically and in proportions which is harmony.
    The proportions found in Romans buildings were beautiful and harmonious
  • Around 1434-35, Battista published theoretical treatise on painting known as “Della Pittura”, explaining  the rules of linear perspective, which would  have enormous influence on artists that followed him.
  • Architect need to follow the design as existed in nature not to follow blindly and objectively but to copy where the real objects of nature meets human needs.
  • He said architects, artist, sculptures and painter should accentuate beauty as “beauty is as pleasing as it is necessary.”
  • De pictura (“On Painting”) contained the first scientific study of perspective


Facade of Santa Maria Novella

Facade of Santa Maria Novella


  • He designed The Church of Sant’Andrea, and at Rimini The Church of Tempio Malatestiano (San Francesco).
  • He completed the principal facade of The Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.
  • Alberti is also involved in the redesigning a village called Corsignano, in 1459. It was the birthplace of Pope Pius II; Pius II wanted to use the village as a retreat ,which radically transformed the center of the town, included a palace for the pope, a church, a town hall, and a building for the bishops who would accompany the Pope on his trips. This city is an example for re-urbanization for planners.

E) Song Dynasty-LI JIE in History of Architecture

Li Jie was a Chines who lived during the Song Dynasty China who influenced Chinese Architecture in a major way till to day.e
He published the Yingzao Fashi in 1103, it was an architectural treatise that codified elements of Chinese architecture

Revolving Budha

Sino-Judaic scholars believe the Chinese (Kaifeng) Jews used one of these to house their 13 Torah Picture of a revolving-Buddhist ark drawn by Li Jie and published in his Yingzao Fashi  Sino-Judaic scholars believe the Chinese (Kaifeng) Jews used one of these to house their 13 Torah


Yingzao Fashi brackets

Yingzao Fashi brackets

The 5 Brackets types for connections of columns and beams and 2 cantilevered brackets were predominately used in Chinese buildings of Worship or Chinese Official building , even in the Emperor’s Palaces, for a long time.

Yingzao Fashi door elevation

Yingzao Fashi door elevation

Li’s book used material from preexisting architectural writings. The documentation of the inherited traditions of craftsmen and architects passed down by word of mouth.It provided  a glossary of technical terms that includes mathematical formula. He included topography in his estimations for buildings on various types of sloped sites He also estimated the costs of hiring workers of different trades in crafts.
i)it incorporates building rules and regulations,a system of accounting information,standards for materials

it is book with 34 chapters in the book specify in detail the units of measurement, the construction of moats and fortifications, and standards for stonework as well as for greater and lesser woodwork. It is a detail account of brick, mason, timber details and specification for constructions

Although others were written and compiled beforehand, Li’s book is the oldest technical book on Chinese architecture to have without having to be destroyed but had remained intact in one single document.

Prepared by Green Architect and Net Zero Energy Architect Perumal Nagapushnam