Architects and Builders

Two kinds of people are required to create good architecture: the person who designs the building - the architect - and the people who construct it - the builders. In Greek and Roman times much was made of the skills which an architect had to possess. To create a large building many different needs had to be reconciled: solidity, layout, convenience, use and appearance. The combination called for a sophisticated understanding which a man who was merely able to put the building together would not necessarily possess. Ideally a balance had to be achieved between the skills of the architect who conceived the building and the craftsmen who had to erect it. Good or bad workmanship can make or mar a grand design.

In the middle ages the distinction between the architect and the builder hardly existed. Masons trained in a masons' lodge where they learnt to hew and build stone. Gradually, those who were skilful became master masons. Master masons directed the work and were often sent from one site to another (and even to different countries) to supervise the construction of a building.

In the Renaissance the position that an architect held in Antiquity gained prominence once more. Architecture was seen as an art, not simply as a craft or trade, and major artists - Raphael and Michelangelo among them - turned their attention to the design of buildings. As a consequence of this change of attitude, it soon became possible for members of the ruling classes throughout Europe to interest themselves in architectural design. In the Stuart and Georgian periods, many British and Irish landowners collected Italian, French and Dutch publications - architectural pattern books - which dealt in detail with the subject, and they sought out skilful architects to make designs for them.

previousPrevious - Commercial Buildings
Next - Architectsnext