Teacher's Guide for the History of Architecture

Architecture Teachers' Guide

Dome of the Rock

There are many different possible approaches to studying the history of architecture. One might be to look at the materials and methods of construction, as we do in the main architecture section of this site. How do you roof a big room? How can you build something underwater? How can you make a bridge over a wide river? How can you make a stone roof, and still have big windows in the walls? This approach lends itself to experiments and getting to understand some basic principles of physics. Try building an arch, or mixing up some cement.

Another approach would be to consider the different needs that people had for their buildings. What makes people want to have a house? Or build a big palace? Why do people want to live in apartments? Why do people build temples? Why do churches look different from temples? (because people worship INSIDE them. People stay outside temples because they are sacrificing and it is messy and smelly). Why do people live in fortresses in the Middle Ages? Why are the walls of Constantinople impregnable for a thousand years, and then fall to the Turks? (the invention of cannons).

Or you might look more at the aesthetics of architecture. What makes a building look balanced? Why are they mostly symmetrical? What makes a building look boring, or interesting? Why do people put decoration on? Why did they put it in those particular places? You might try making a mosaic, or having each student design a building s/he finds aesthetically pleasing.

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