Top 11 Architectural Styles Around the World Today

Top 11 Architectural Styles Around the World Today

Architecture
By Dikran Seferian June 19, 2022

Millenia of civilization has culminated in a rich variety of architectural styles. From antique designs such as Victorian to recent movements like contemporary, the architecture of a building is often a sight to behold.

Many architectural movements are born out of past styles whereas others tend to push the boundaries of this fine discipline. Oftentimes, the architecture of a building reflects the culture and heritage of the particular region as well as the lifestyle of its inhabitants. It is also not uncommon for an architectural design to be a manner of expression — think Beaux-Arts buildings. While many building designs come and go, certain forms of architecture maintain a timeless appeal that grants them a spot among today’s most recognized styles. 

1. Industrial Architecture

What is industrial architecture and where did it originate from? (Velvet/Wikimedia Commons)

What is industrial architecture and where did it originate from? (Velvet/Wikimedia Commons)

Generally referring to buildings that are constructed to meet the needs of industry, the industrial form of architecture involves a variety of urban designs that combine functionality and style. It is mainly common in industrialized regions that consist of utilitarian structures such as warehouses, distilleries, factories, breweries, and refineries. Industrial buildings first popped up during the industrial revolution in 18th century Britain.

The industrial architecture that we know today, however, mainly has to do with the buildings that came into existence with the mass production of modern materials such as metal and concrete. Common elements of industrial architecture include high ceilings, open floor plans, metal-grid fenestration, exposed brick and pipework, open-floor plans, plain facades, as well as plenty of concrete, brick, and metal. 

2. Greek Revival Architecture

Greek Revival architecture is characterized by the aesthetics of ancient Greek temples.

Greek Revival architecture is characterized by the aesthetics of ancient Greek temples.

The Greek Revival style of architecture draws its inspiration from the elegant simplicity, symmetry, and proportion of the Greek temples that date back to the 5th century BCE. In the United States, this architectural design maintained prevalence throughout the mid-19th century, becoming the country’s first dominant style of building. Greek Revival architecture eventually became dispersed from coast to coast, gracing structures such as capitol buildings and southern plantation houses.

Given the fact that the United States was a new democracy at the time, it made sense to borrow elements of architecture from the birthplace of this type of statecraft — Ancient Greece. Such elements consist of Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian columns in addition to gable roofs and intricate door frames. The interior architecture of Greek revival houses typically features open plans and elegant proportions. Ceilings are often adorned with graceful plasterwork and beautiful mantels, whereas other details include wide plank floors, plain plaster walls, as well as high parlor windows and doors.  

3. Neoclassical Architecture

The Creek County courthouse is an ideal example of neoclassical architecture.

The Creek County courthouse is an ideal example of neoclassical architecture.

Neoclassical architecture alludes to a form of buildings erected in Italy and France during the 18th and 19th centuries, the period which saw the revival of the Classic Roman and Greek architectural designs. While the Greek Revival style borrows classical elements such as Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian columns, neoclassical architecture tends to revive entire classical volumes on a more massive scale. This style places more focus on highlighting planar designs rather than ornate mannerisms on the facade and the interior. A perfect example of a building that features this architectural style is the Creek County courthouse on Route 66 in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. 

4. Victorian Architecture

Victorian architecture is marked by octagonal towers and wraparound porches.

Victorian architecture is marked by octagonal towers and wraparound porches.

Originating in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, Victorian architecture signifies the era rather than a particular style. Various architectural designs of this period eventually made their way to Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Characterized by dramatic ornamentation, Victorian-era architecture never fails to grab attention. Certain elements that are synonymous with this architectural form include ornate gables, pitched roofing, plain or colored bricks, and rooftop finials. Other exterior features consist of wrap-around porches, round or octagonal towers, as well as bay windows with sliding sashes. As for the architecture’s interior design, Victorian houses may boast high ceilings, grand stairways, complex layouts, and ornate wood paneling. 

5. Tudor Architecture

Timber beam detailing is a defining characteristic of Tudor architecture.

Timber beam detailing is a defining characteristic of Tudor architecture.

As the name suggests, Tudor architecture refers to the Tudor period which began in the late 15th century in England, evoking the charm of old-fashioned cottages portrayed in children’s storybooks. The architects who built Tudor houses often borrowed certain elements from Renaissance and Gothic designs. This resulted in a transitional building design style that became common throughout England until Elizabethan architecture took over in the mid-1500s. The Tudor style of architecture re-emerged in the United States in the late 19th century and enjoyed prevalence until the 1940s.

Tudor homes are marked by signature elements such as half-timbered detailing and vertical wood beams that form a two-toned facade. The revival form of Tudor architecture incorporates red-toned brick and decorative details around windows, chimneys, and doorways. 

6. Cape Cod Architecture

Cape Cod houses are famous for their charming and timeless aesthetic.

Cape Cod houses are famous for their charming and timeless aesthetic.

Aptly named after the coastal region of Massachusetts, Cape Cod architecture is the signature style of that region. The classic silhouettes combined with oak or pine wood framing cedar shake roofs and side shingles lend the Cape Cod houses a homespun and effortless charm.

Cape Cod homes are typically boxy and low-slung to withstand the harsh climate of New England. This adaptation was introduced by English colonists in the 1600s and was based on half-timber halls and parlor houses. The early to mid-1900s saw a revival of the Tudor style which then flourished throughout the United States. Nowadays, Cape Cod homes across the country maintain a nostalgic and timeless appeal — in all their forms and sizes. 

7. Brutalist Architecture

Brutalist buildings tend to have a seemingly harsh appearance.

Brutalist buildings tend to have a seemingly harsh appearance.

Marked by plain, box-like, and massive structures, brutalist architecture gets its name from the French term for raw concrete (béton brut). This unapologetically bold architectural style features bare geometric lines, a monochromatic palette, and a bulky appearance with little to no ornamentation. Although a controversial choice, brutalist designs gained popularity around the world before passing on the spotlight to post-modernism in the 1980s. Brutalism was abundantly used in eastern European countries and Soviet Russia as a solution for housing the masses. Nowadays, the influence left by this form of residential architecture is evident in contemporary designs, furniture, and other elements. 

8. Mid-Century Modern Architecture

Mid-century modern architecture is still hitting the trends today.

Mid-century modern architecture is still hitting the trends today.

Mid-century modern homes first emerged in the 1940s and prevailed until the 1980s. Aiming to intertwine the natural landscape with a minimalist design, the style features open architecture plans, seamless lines, and large glass windows to integrate the exterior and interior spaces while welcoming natural light. This architectural movement heavily relies on materials such as steel, brick, wood, concrete, stone, and iron.

Mid-century modern architects such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the concept of ‘form follows function’, cementing them as pioneers of this architectural style. A number of mid-century designers translated that concept into interior design through mid-century modern furniture that remains popular to this day.

9. Beaux-Arts Architecture

The famous Orsay Museum (aka Musée D’Orsay) in Paris is a fine example of Beaux-Arts architectural design.

The famous Orsay Museum (aka Musée D’Orsay) in Paris is a fine example of Beaux-Arts architectural design.

The Beaux-Arts style of architecture is one that evolved out of the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris in the late 19th century, eventually making its way to the United States. Buildings constructed in this eloquent style tend to be palatial, dramatic, and tastefully ornate. The Beaux-Arts architecture draws inspiration from Greek and Roman classicism as well as French and Italian Baroque and Renaissance designs.

Among the most notable examples of Beaux-Arts architecture are the Grand Central Terminal, the Vanderbilt Marble House, and the main branch of the New York Public Library. Across the Atlantic in France, fine specimens of this architectural design include famous tourist attractions such as the Palais Garnier, the Musée D’Orsay, and of course the École des Beaux-Arts where it all began.

10. Contemporary Architecture

Contemporary architecture refers to building designs that followed the postmodern era.

Contemporary architecture refers to building designs that followed the postmodern era.

Contemporary architecture is an umbrella term that consists of various building designs that are utterly unique and unlike anything you have seen before. This one-of-a-kind architectural style came after the postmodern era of the 90s which followed the mid-century modern period. Contemporary designs employ innovative building methods such as three-dimensional printing, computer-generated curves, and laser-cutting technology. Using these techniques, architects that specialize in this style tend to incorporate asymmetric and irregular proportions in addition to open floor plans and circular forms. Sustainable architecture is often linked with the contemporary movement. 

11. Art Deco Architecture

Geometric patterns and lavish colors are the main elements that define Art Deco buildings.

Geometric patterns and lavish colors are the main elements that define Art Deco buildings.

The Art Deco architectural design style constitutes the Art Deco movement, a creative design era-spanning Europe and the United States in the Roaring Twenties. The movement involved everything from art to homewares, interior decor, and even fashion. You can find the earliest Art Deco buildings in Paris, France. The style eventually traveled to the United States, shaping the Manhattan skyline with towering structures such as the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State Building.

Art Deco architecture makes use of materials such as steel, chrome, aluminum, terracotta, decorative glass, and stucco. The buildings are adorned with geometric patterning such as chevron, pyramids, and zig-zags as well as sunburst and floral detailing. Bright and lavish colors contrasted with white, black, silver, or gold tones are also common among Art Deco buildings, which are often marked by geometric windows, spires, and parapets.

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian