Industrial Revolution and Architecture: Heralding a New Age in Design

Industrial Revolution and Architecture

Architecture, an ever changing form of thinking through which man tries to understand physical structures, saw the emergence during the Industrial Revolution when the global agriculture, manufacturing industries, and technology advanced in varying field along with textile industries. Along with blossoming residential and commercial building designs, architecture also experienced a boom in the construction of various types of infrastructure, like canals, tunnels, bridges, and the like.

The post-18th-century perception of architecture underwent a lot of modifications as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Architectural design underwent a significant change. The article seeks to show how improved tools, more supplies, and better methods all helped make architecture a mature and still-thriving industry today.

Industrial Revolution

Around 1760, the Industrial Revolution began, and it was over between 1820 and 1840. In the early 1800s, it gradually moved to the United States after initially starting in Europe. Massive changes in the way commodities were produced occurred in the second half of the 18th century. To enhance productivity, manufacturers were moving away from manual manufacturing techniques and toward machines. Not to be confused with the second industrialization phase, which took place later in the 19th and 20th centuries and saw advancements in the manufacture of metal (particularly, steel), electricity, and automobiles.

The British textile industry helped launch the first industrial revolution in England, which then extended to other regions of Europe. In order to help the revolution spread throughout Britain, thousands of miles of roads and canals were built. Additionally, steam-powered trains—both passenger and freight—became considerably more common and aided in the movement of commodities throughout Europe. The industrial revolution prioritised economies of scale and shifted manufacturing to mass production. Increases in production and technical advancements benefit from economies of scale in terms of fixed and variable costs.

Impact of Industrial Revolution on Architecture

The Industrial Revolution (1760–1900), had a profound impact on global agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and housing. It was the transformation of an economy based on agriculture and handicrafts into one dominated by industry and machine production. Marked the beginning of fundamental changes in human thought and society at every level worldwide. Technology and manufacturing facilities advanced during the Industrial Revolution as well.

In reaction to the emerging industrial landscape, architecture altered. Popularity of architecture and ease of building design also increased. The textile sector likewise experienced a boom during the Industrial Revolution. This evolution led to the use of textiles like velvet and silk in architectural designs. This resulted in the idea of interiors being introduced into architectural designs, which made them intriguingly distinct from all the designs that were previously known to exist.

The expansion of heavy industry led to a flood of new construction materials like cast iron, steel, and glass, which architects used in conjunction with engineers to design structures with larger or better-looking shapes and that could carry out duties that were previously impossible.

The original Greek and Roman prototypes attracted the attention of late 18th-century designers and patrons who were dissatisfied with baroque, rococo, and even neo-Palladianism. From the beginning of the 19th century until about 1850, the new United States exhibited a particularly strong Greek influence. As evidenced by the enormous Roman temple known as the Church of the Madeleine (1807–1842) in Paris, the Napoleonic imperial religion in France directed architecture in a more Roman direction. The turn of the century had shaken French architectural ideas.

The freedom to choose the historical cultural elements that best suited their programmes, however, allowed architects to design Gothic for Protestant churches, Baroque for Roman Catholic churches, Early Greek for banks, Palladian for institutions, Early Renaissance for libraries, and Egyptian for cemeteries.

As late English neoclassicism grew to be perceived as elitist, the authorities pushed on Gothic or Tudor Revival for the new Houses of Parliament. Sir John Soane was the most innovative architect in England at the time, and the museum he constructed as his own London home (1812–1813) continues to astound people with its ingenious romantic virtuosity.

The Industrial Revolution’s disruptions reached a point of no return in the second part of the 19th century. The horrifying new urban districts of factories and worker dwellings as well as the decline in public taste among the newly wealthy astounded many. The only purpose of using architects for the new modes of transportation—canals, tunnels, bridges, and railroad stations—was to add a veneer of culture.

There was some opposition to the new architecture of the Industrial Revolution and its focus on traditional building techniques. John Ruskin, a co-founder of the Arts and Crafts movement for simplicity, claimed with regards to the architecture of this time that “You should not connect the delight which you take in ornament with that which you take in structure or in function.” They are unrelated, and any attempts you make to connect them will make you less appreciative of beauty. Keep in mind that the most beautiful things in the world, like peacocks and lilies, are also the most useless.

Impact in America

The second part of the 19th century saw the development of inexpensive, adaptable steel, which altered the urban environment in America. A considerably more urbanised population was emerging, and this society need new, more substantial structures. Large cities’ downtown areas started to change by the middle of the 19th century as a result of the addition of new roads and structures to meet the population increase. The capacity to construct skyscrapers in the middle of the 1880s was primarily enabled by the mass production of steel.

In order to strengthen the tensile strength of foundations, columns, and vertical slabs, steel framing was installed into reinforced concrete foundations and concrete was poured around a grid of steel rods (rebar) or other matrices. Architects and builders could instantly construct tall, thin buildings with a sturdy steel skeleton by putting together a framework of steel girders. The load-bearing steel served as the support for the remaining building components, including the walls, floors, ceilings, and windows. This novel method of building is known as “column-frame” construction.

Industrial Revolution
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An early example of column framing is the twelve story Prudential Building by architect Louis Sullivan in Buffalo, New York. Built in 1894, with its tall, slender brick veneer walls, numerous windows, and gently curving top pediment, the skyscraper’s contemporary design heralds in a new century. Even with its cutting-edge design and technology, The Prudential Building nonetheless features certain vintage shapes. Overlooking the main entrance is a sizable arch, and the brick façade is heavily ornamented.

Building Materials

The development of heavy industry brought in a rush of new building materials that transformed the world’s architecture, with England and America undergoing the most significant alterations. Most common were cast iron, wrought iron, steel, and glass.

building materials
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Pig iron was the most widely used metal for a sizable period before the industrial revolution. However, the industrial revolution significantly reduced the cost of cast iron, and by 1850, complex cast iron facades were being produced. These facades may still be seen in Glasgow, Scotland, today. The first entirely cast iron fronted commercial building in Britain was the gardeners warehouse, built in 1856.

As the major building materials for massive structures, forged iron and milled steel started to displace wood, brick, and stone. The Eiffel Tower, constructed in 1889, is a symbol of this transformation. The iron lattice tower just reaches a height of little over 1000 feet while standing on four enormous arched legs. The Eiffel Tower not only became a symbol of France but also of industry, ushering in a new era of building materials, designs, and techniques.

Photographer Unknown

Complex motifs in iron grill work were a favourite adornment for the classical and gothic buildings, and factory-made plate glass was also developed. Improvements in terracotta production also made it possible for more of the material to be used in building. Masonry was used to conceal steel skeletons, and big glass skylights were common. Construction of bridges and other structures was encouraged by advancements in the iron-making process. Strong iron frames were now used in building, allowing for the creation of large indoor open spaces that were perfect for factories, museums, and train stations.

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