Since man first crawled out of caves and elected to create his own dwellings, a great many variations have been tried. Some have passed the test of time, others have come and gone within less than a century. Those that endure tend to be the work of architects who have understood the need to combine practicality with aesthetics.
Some of the greatest architecture still standing was designed and built for public use - Saint Paul's Cathedral by Christopher Wren, for example, attracts visitors from all over the world, many of whom have little or no interest in the religious purpose of the building but who come to marvel at its beauty. Canaletto painted this fine canvas (left) in 1754, less than a century after the cathedral was completed. Many artists have made the journey to London to paint views of the great domed building over the centuries, something that becomes increasingly difficult as somewhat less pleasing edifices spring up in the surrounding area.
Another architect with a magnificent sense of proportion, and whose designs some say have never been bettered, is the sixteenth century creator of Renaissance architecture, Andrea Palladio who, drawing on influences dating back into the mists of time, created many wonderful private residences as well as public buildings and other works.
Palladian architecture combines elegance with practicality and much of the fine art of the eighteenth century was created to be used within such gracious buildings. Sadly, as populations continue to expand, living space is at a premium and many wonderful buildings have been divided into several smaller dwellings. If you are interested in reading more about this wonderful architect and his works you will find a number of excellent books on the subject are available.
Although many modern buildings are larger than anything built in previous centuries, the dimensions of rooms in domestic and public buildings have been shrinking gradually, as have the dimensions of the spaces in which it is intended that buildings should stand. The great vistas that still formed part of important architectural plans, only a century ago, are now a thing of the past.
Nonetheless, there is still much that can be done to improve the interior architecture of all but the meanest and most modern buildings, by the use of devices such as the splendid mouldings that are produced synthetically these days - polystyrene dental cornices, for example, can elevate an otherwise dull room to elegance, without costing a fortune.
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If you are interested in discovering more about great architecture, you will find a great deal to look at and learn about on the excellent Great Buildings Online website, using the search facility below.