14 Oct, 2020
Hagia Sophia, Notre-Dame, and Parthenon. These three constructions may belong to different historical periods, architectural styles, or geographic locations. Still, they share in common something bigger than being famous tourist attractions: they are concrete examples of architecture’s impact on society, history, and culture.
Architecture can be defined as the relation between men and space. We can also understand it as how people interfere in the environment, creating visual and functional conditions for inhabiting, using, and organizing places.
Through this perspective, a new light is shone to places before seen as common elements of our daily lives. Ordinary buildings, galleries, churches, bridges, streets, squares, or major architectural works tell the history of men’s beliefs, demands, and social organization.
The tasteful way through which architecture - literally - builds society and the spaces where we live and interact brought it the status of the first art among the seven ones.
Well, you’ve probably already heard about the seven arts, but do you know where this list comes from?
Architecture: the first art from the Manifesto of Seven Arts
“Architecture is petrified music.” This quote from German writer Goethe (1749 - 1832) synthesizes one of architecture’s main functions: producing a specific type of art, where bricks, cement, and creativity are the raw materials.
Even though architecture’s artistic facet was already known, it only started being famously recognized as the first of the seven arts in 1923, when the Italian intellectual Ricciotto Canudo published his Manifeste des Sept Arts.
The manifest was an update to his prior publication from 1911, La Naissance d'un sixième art. Essai sur le cinématographe where, after a few alterations and the inclusion of dance and cinema as some of the most relevant artistic manifestations, he presented the following final list of the Seven Arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, dance, and cinema.
An incredible number of notable architects built extraordinary legacies that continuously remind those who explore and visit their masterpieces of architecture’s artistic facet throughout history.
Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rezo Piano, and Zaha Hadid are examples of these renowned artists. Future generations will always remember their remarkable contributions to the area for showing how to infuse the language of art to architectural projects.
The way these architect’s works enabled people to connect to their history and occupy social and intellectual transformation spaces made a clear point. Like any other artistic manifestation, besides entertaining and astonishing us with its beauty, architecture is a social empowerment tool and directly influences how we develop and organize as a society.
Architecture and its social impact power
Architecture is all around and can be defined as one of the main mediation elements between men and space, transforming raw areas into habitable environments.
With its tools and methodologies, architecture indeed allows humans to construct functional places to live, but its influence on our lives transcends domestic spaces.
Public interest spaces play an essential role as communities’ social expression tools. They preserve their history and also serve as parameters to reflect on alternatives for the future.
Thus, designing more inclusive public spaces is a key to promoting reflections about how we’ve been coexisting as a society and hence build a more just and equal world.
When used as a social transformation instrument, architecture permits thinking and developing new ways of interacting with each other and the environment around us.
It enables humans to tear down physical barriers with urban mobility; fight social inequality creating decent housing conditions; reinforce national identities documenting groups’ cultures and milestones; and develop sustainable alternatives with innovative new technologies.
As the world changes and new demands are identified, new ways of using architecture to impact society emerge. Thinking about this issue through this perspective, creating connections between constructions and their historical periods can be even more manageable once we organize facts in a chronological timeline.
Do you know how this instrument works?
Time to explore the timelines
Timelines are visual representations of sequences of chronological events that ease information comprehension, highlighting the relation between events and their future unfoldings.
When it comes to architecture, timelines evidence the mutual influence relation between historical constructions, their architectural style movement, the cultural traits of that time, and significant events from the historical period when they were built.
Exploring the world of architecture through timelines sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? We think so and bring you two excellent suggestions!
The first tip is getting to know a little more about our timelines generator platform, Timelinefy. Registering here, you can tell your own stories in interactive timelines and even integrate them to your Spotify and Instagram accounts.
Besides creating your timelines, Timelinefy also gives you access to content produced by our partners. So the second tip is checking some of the great timelines that are already available on our website.
If you love architecture and history, here are some of our suggestions on where to start exploring:
Check the timeline here!
Hagia Sophia is a millennial construction that tells the story of numerous people, cultures, and religions. Located in Istambul - formerly known as Constantinople - in Turkey, the building was deeply affected by the many conflicts that took place in the region, such as the Nika Riots (532), the Fourth Crusade (1202 - 1204), Occupations by the Latin and Ottoman Empires (1453), and the Proclamation of the Turkish Republic (1923).
The construction has already served as a religious temple by the Roman and Orthodox Catholics and the Muslim. And even though it went through several architectural alterations as its purpose was shifted, Greek scientists Isidore of Miletus, a doctor, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician, were responsible for its original project.
Hagia Sophia was built in a period of giant Empires, occupations, and territorial and cultural conflicts. That’s why its parts originate from several different places. In its structure, we can find elements from Greece, Rome, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, for instance.
Although religious groups still claim to use it as a Christian cathedral or a Mosque, Hagia Sophia has been open to the public as a museum since 1935.
Check the timeline here!
Notre Dame’s construction started in 1163 to flaunt France’s emerging power between the 11th and 12th centuries. A great deal of work was put into building and restoring the cathedral throughout the last 857 years, and it doesn’t come as a surprise that it remains one of the most famous and visited Parisian monuments.
The cathedral’s construction took approximately 200 years, during which numerous architects, including Jean de Chelles, Pierre de Montreuil, Pierre de Chelles, Jean Ravy, and Jean le Bouteiller, worked and contributed to its conclusion in 1345. Since then, it received a series of renovations, but the final version - before the recent events - was finished in 1870 after rising in popularity due to another art piece.
Besides its majestic beauty and religious importance, Notre Dame also influenced the writing of the literary masterpiece Notre-Dame de Paris, published by Victor Hugo in 1829. Alike the cathedral, the novel’s cultural relevance stood the test of time, being famously adapted to plays, cinema, and animated movies.
Nowadays, the Notre Dame cathedral is closed due to ongoing restorations after a fire breakout in 2019. Thankfully, iconic parts of the cathedral, as the bell towers, the three rose windows, and its centuries-old organ survived the disaster. Hopefully, soon will the French and tourists from all over the globe be able to visit it again.
Check the timeline here!
If Pathernon’s columns could talk, they would tell the stories of the conception of democracy, philosophy, theater, and freedom of speech.
The Parthenon is one of the most significant constructions from Classical Greece. Built between 447 bc and 438 bc, a highpoint of the Athenian Empire’s power, the temple located above the Athenian acropolis is dedicated to the goddess Athena, the city’s patron. Its sculptures, spread in museums all over the world, are considered the highlight of Greek art.
Present generations consider the Pathernon to be one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments and symbols of democracy and occidental civilizations. The Athenians who took part in the building process, on the other hand, considered it a sign of gratitude to the Gods after winning the war against the Persian invasion attempts.
In different periods, the Parthenon also served other purposes. It was used as the Delus League’s treasury, a Christian church (end of the 6th century), and a mosque (1460) after Greek’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire, for instance. Nowadays, it is open for visitors and has been in constant restoration since 1983.
Architecture’s contributions to arts and society are numerous and undeniable. These two traits are easily perceived in the historical monuments that provide contemporary societies the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual support to build themselves.
Searching further in our cultural landmarks’ histories is an assured path to strengthening our bond with the environment and the people around us. And that’s what we are here for!
Count on us to make your journey through time and history even more fun! What’s the next destination?