Looking at Buildings

Styles & Traditions


Mixed Styles and Other Traditions

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Fountains Hall

ClassicalGlossary Term architecture has its origin in structure, and often dramatizes buildings by applying the appearance of structure. But in the early years of their revival, classicalGlossary Term forms were often used as fashionable ornament without much regard for structural logic, and overlaid on older forms such as square bayGlossary Term windows and decorative gables. In England and Wales this period is commonly identified by the names of the monarchs, hence the style names ElizabethanGlossary Term and Jacobean (for James I, who reigned 1603-25).

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Royal Holloway College
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Baroque doorcase

These styles were revived by the Victorians, followed by other European variants, especially French, Dutch, Flemish and German. At the vast Royal Holloway College the style adopted was a version of early 16th-century French.

In the BaroqueGlossary Term architecture of the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries, novel or exaggerated forms often took the place of the more straightforward details favoured in the RenaissanceGlossary Term period. This English doorcase, of 1724, had upward-tapered shafts topped with brackets instead of the familiar columns or pilasters.

Other architectural traditions also use columns, most often in less regulated ways: the RomanesqueGlossary Term and GothicGlossary Term of medieval Europe, the ByzantineGlossary Term architecture of Eastern Christianity, and the Islamic world are examples.

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The Alhambra



The term, originally derogatory, for a style at its peak in 17th- and early 18th-century Europe, which developed the classical architecture of the Renaissance towards greater extravagance and drama. Its innovations included greater freedom from the conventions of the orders, much interplay of concave and convex forms, and a preference for the single visual sweep. The revival of the style in early 20th-century Britain, often termed Edwardian Baroque or Neo-Baroque, drew more on English prototypes than on the more expansive variants of the Continent.


Division of an elevation or interior space as defined by regular vertical features such as arches, columns, windows etc.


A style which originated at Byzantium (Constantinople), the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire, in the 5th century, spreading around the Mediterranean and, with Eastern (Orthodox) Christianity, from Sicily to Russia in later centuries. It developed the round arches, vaults and domes of Roman architecture but eschewed formalized classical detail in favour of lavish decoration and ornament of emblematic and symbolic significance. Introduced to late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain as an alternative to Gothic, usually for church architecture; often called Neo-Byzantine.


A term used for the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, revived at the Renaissance and subsequently imitated around the Western world. It uses a range of conventional forms, the roots of which are the orders, or types of column each with its fixed proportions and ornaments (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Classical buildings tend also to be symmetrical, both externally and on plan. Classical architecture in England began c. 1530 with applied ornamental motifs, followed within a few decades by fully-fledged new buildings.


The English architecture of the later 16th century, marked by a decorative use of Renaissance ornament and a preference for symmetrical fa


The style of the Middle Ages from the later 12th century to the Renaissance, with which it co-existed in certain forms into the 17th century. Characterized in its full development by the pointed arch, the rib-vault and an often skeletal masonry structure for churches, combined with large glazed windows. The term was originally associated with the concept of the barbarian Goths as assailants of classical civilization.


The style of early 17th-century England, called after James I (reigned 1603-25), but common into the middle decades. Not always distinguishable from the preceding Elizabethan manner, with which it shares a fondness for densely applied classical ornament and symmetrical gabled façades.


The revival of classical architecture that began in 15th-century Italy and spread through Western Europe and the Americas in the following two centuries, finding distinctive forms and interpretations in different states and regions. From c. 1830 the Italian version was revived in Britain as a style in its own right (sometimes called Neo-Renaissance or Italianate), i.e. as distinguished from the native Georgian classical tradition.


The dominant style of Western Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is associated especially with the expansion of monasticism and the building of large stone churches, and is characterized by massive masonry, round-headed arches and vaulting inspired by ancient Roman precedent, and by the use of stylized ornament. In England it is commonly known as Norman.