Architectures Essays

Coming Up With Interesting Essay Topics For Architecture Students


Architecture is often defined as both the process and the product of conceiving a plan, then designing and ultimately constructing buildings. Buildings, especially by famous architects such as Zaha Hadid, are widely regarded as works of art that define the civilizations that built them. If you are a budding architect, looking to follow in the footsteps of giants, we have some great topics below for you to write your papers on:

  • Explore the relationship between architecture and environment. Think about how buildings exist within a space, climate, and culture. How does architecture contribute or distract from its environment?
  • Compare and contrast the design of a work of Modern architecture to that of a Gothic cathedral.
  • Write about how Architecture is art in itself. Present alternative views that consider it a science only and debunk those theories.
  • Discuss a theory about why the Pyramids were built in the scale and shape that they were. Were the reasons religious, political, mythical or social?
  • Argue for or against the Art deco style having been an influence on Modern architecture.
  • Discuss how the Industrial Revolution changed the way architecture was studied and viewed.
  • Explore how the availability of different types of materials led to the many structures found in the ancient world (You may cover any before 500 A.D.). Compare with modern architecture.
  • Compare and contrast Ancient Roman architecture to Ancient Greek architecture.
  • Explore how certain lifestyles influenced particular types of architecture. For example, some Native Americans led a nomadic lifestyle and their homes were easily constructed and broken down with each move.
  • Compare and contrast skylines across major cities in the world and describe how they reflect that city’s culture.
  • What is Architecture? Explore this question artistically, philosophically, and scientifically.
  • What is the relationship between technology and architecture?
  • Which is more important in architecture: functionality of a building and space, or the form and beauty of a structure?
  • Should we strive for creating sustainable architecture, or restoring currently existing structures?
  • Compare and contrast Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture to that of Mies Van Der Rohe.
  • Why has humanity been so fixated on creating structures on a massive scale?
  • Explore how architecture has influenced different fields: philosophy, art, technology, psychology, etc.
  • Discuss lifestyle differences between living in a single-family home to living in a multi-storied apartment complex.
  • Compare and contrast the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France to the Empire State building in New York City.
  • Explore what you believe architecture will look like in 100 years.
  • Has digital rendering improved architecture as a practice or has it taken something away from this field?
  • Discuss how architecture has changed in the past 20 years in comparison to the last 200 years.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of using concrete in architecture.
  • How is Romanesque architecture similar to Baroque? How do they differ?

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Although Ted Mosby, the architect character in How I Met Your Mother, has suitably tousled hair and his (client-less) firm has a trendy name—Mosbuis Designs—he doesn't seem to have mastered the lingo of his trade, for architects, like all professionals, have their own jargon, while Ted speaks like an ordinary guy. A brief history is in order. Architecture is a relatively young profession—the American Institute of Architects was not founded until 1857. Seeking to distinguish themselves from lowly builders and carpenters, architects adopted a specialized vocabulary, often substituting complicated Latin-based words for their simpler Anglo-Saxon equivalents, for example, fenestration for window, entrance for door, chamber for room, trabeation for beam, planar for flat. Then there were the mysteries of Ionic columns and egg-and-dart moldings.

When Modernist architects revolutionized the art of building in the 1920s, they scrubbed classical decoration—and classical terms. In the process of simplification that followed, language, too, was stripped down, and the pronouncements of architects such as Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier were lucid and to the point. After all, if a house was a machine for living in, then the house-maker should speak the straightforward language of the engineer.

This changed in the 1970s, on March 16, 1972, to be exact, the day the federal government dynamited the first of 33 buildings of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in St. Louis. The destruction of the utopian "towers in a park" signaled the demise of heroic Modernism and its idealistic foray into social engineering. It also rattled the profession. What were architects to do? A few, such as I.M. Pei, soldiered on, seeking inspiration in a more monumental and stylish version of minimal Modernism. Some adopted Postmodernism, which turned out to be a short-lived fad. A few turned back to Classicism, while some, like Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, redefined architecture as an advanced technological craft.

Other architects, especially those teaching in universities, reacted to the collapse of Modernism by attempting to reinvent the field as a theoretical discipline. The theories did not come from the evidence of the practice of architecture, as one might expect (that was left to Christopher Alexander), but from arcane historical tracts and the writings of French literary critics in hermeneutics, poetics, and semiology. Thus began a new phase in professional jargon.

Discourse: What architects talk about when they talk about architecture.

Academy: Usually the Academy. Where underemployed architects like Ted Mosby work.

Praxis: How theory is implemented, which in architecture means building buildings.

Tectonic: Also from the ancient Greek. Nothing to do with geology, it signifies, as far as I understand it, anything to do with building.

Assemblage: From the French, meaning putting things together.

Gesamtkunstwerk: From the German. The total work of art, meaning the architect designs everything, soup to nuts.

Materiality: What buildings are made of. Sounds more impressive than bricks and sticks.

Potentiality, spatiality, conditionality, functionality, modernity: When in doubt, add "-ity." Or "-ology." "Ology" means the study of something, but in architecture methodology and typology just mean method and type.

Visualization or representation: Architectural sketches and drawings.

Instantiation: I had to look this one up. It means representing something by giving an example. A term borrowed from philosophy.

Emerging: Trends in architecture that are just around the corner—maybe.

Metamorphosis: Change, as in, "Metamorphosis of space is a flexible correspondence of space to its situation, caused by certain external actions."

Morphosis: The name of an architecture firm in Los Angeles.

Ennead: The name of an architecture firm in New York.

Oculus: The name of an architecture firm in Chongqing.

The Urban Dictionary defines Archispeak as: "Large, made-up words that architects and designers use to make themselves sound smarter than you (you being the client or the confused observer of design). It does nothing to inform or enlighten the consumer of architecture and mostly serves to numb them into obedience or self doubt." That sounds about right.

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