Victorian Architecture – Where Culture Meet Elegance

The term Victorian architecture refers to a number of styles of architecture, which was primarily used during the Victorian period. These architectural styles were quite popular during the period of mid 1837 to the beginning of 1901. This period marked the rule of Queen Victoria and was named after her.

The Victorian era of architecture, was marked by a number of styles, such as Renaissance Revival, Neo-Grec, British Arts and Crafts movement, Italianate, Gothic Revival, Jacobethan, Neoclassicism, Industrial architecture, Painted ladies, Queen Anne, Stick-Eastlake, Romanesque Revival, as well as Second Empire.

There have also been Folk as well as Shingle Style Victorian Houses. As it is, the names of the architectural styles, apart from their adaptations had varied between the countries. Several homes merged the elements of various styles and therefore are not easily discernible as one particular style. In the United States, highly decorated houses have often been addressed to as gingerbread houses.

Some of the most prominent Victorian era cities include Richmond, London, Toronto, Boston, St. Louis, Louisville, Saint Paul, Galena, Nelson, Sydney, Melbourne, IL, Galveston, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Glasgow, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pittsburgh, Manchester, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, as well as New Orleans.

In the United States, the South End of the city of Boston has been recognized as the oldest, as well as the largest Victorian neighborhood of the country. Old Louisville in Kentucky is also believed to be one of the largest Victorian neighborhood of America.

Apart from that, Richmond, Virginia is also home to a number of large Victorian neighborhoods, with the Fan and Church Hill, being the most prominent. Church Hill enjoys the distinction of being a place where Patrick Henry had given his famous speech at the historic Saint John’s church.

The Distillery District of Toronto is home to the largest as well as the best preserved collection of industrial architecture of the Victorian-era in North America. Apart from that, Cabbage town has been the largest as well as the most continuous Victorian style residential area of North America. The other Victorian neighborhoods of Toronto include Annex, Corktown, Park dale, as well as Rosedale.

The Old West End neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio has been recognized as the one having the biggest collection of the late Victorian as well as Edwardian architectural homes of the United States. Carroll Avenue of Los Angeles contains the city’s highest concentration of homes of Victorian style.

There is something really fascinating about the Victorian era and almost everything related to this period, continues to fascinate us to this date, especially Victorian architecture.

Time for a greener architecture

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The Gestalt school identified several principles of use to artists and architects, but the most important is that of balance – that is, the constantly shifting balance that balances all opposites within the constantly shifting matrix of reality. Interestingly the principles of form found in the natural world are not dissimilar to the Gestalt principles that also operate in the unselfconscious human building traditions I referred to at the beginning of this article. Vernacular building traditions have evolved slowly over long periods of time and thus possess some of the coherent organic order found also in Nature. As in animal architecture, vernacular architecture possesses an inherent beauty: the beauty of integrity and unity. Such beauty emerges from the totally balanced integration of a system, its function and use into the broader realms of Nature.

So have we stumbled onto the reason why so many modern human-made environments fail to come up to the quality of some older towns and cities? At root the problem seems to lie in the spiritual posture that we adopt with Nature. Many people would now accept that as humans we are completely co-terminal with Nature. However, in claiming ownership, as we do, of that part of Nature that we call -self’, we not only separate ourselves from Nature but also separate ourselves from our own environments. Yogis tell us that the transcendental world of the spirit – the world of unity and pure consciousness – supports the relative world at each point. They tell us that the transcendental realm is a world without qualities yet gives rise to and sustains all qualities. They tell us that it is to be found in the -gap’ between the different states of consciousness: waking, dreaming and sleep; in the silences in music; between syllables in spoken language and even between our thoughts. The great 19th-century Indian holy man Ramakrishna Paramahansa was once asked, -Where do I find God?- His reply was, -Look between two thoughts.- This gap between perfectly balanced opposites is where life and spirit enter the relative world. It is also the vital middle ground between a subject and an object that defines the -mean’ and gives the meaning.

In conclusion we can say that it is order that gives life to a work and it is order that gives a work its spiritual dimension. It is in the perfect orderliness of a great work that the two worlds of materiality and spirit conjoin. Order is the agent that serves as the conduit between these two realms. Dare we say that -orderliness’ is next to -Godliness’?

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Spanish Mission Art Deco Style Architecture

In the architectural world, just as in the worlds of food, clothing, and design, as styles come together we have whats called fusion. In fusion, often disparate elements come together to create a cohesive union, and sometimes seemingly harmonious elements come together in a not so harmonious way. In terms of architecture, a truly interesting blend happened in the beginning of the 20th century, melding together the elements of Spanish Mission revival style with the hip sleekness of Art Deco.

Art Deco buildings are known for their futuristic, sleek, dramatic, geometric flair. Cubes, zigzags, and futuristic chic came together to express the growing machine age in the United States. In the roaring twenties and early thirties, the jazzy Art Deco architecture was sweeping the nation. The Art Deco style found its inspiration from many different sources. The austere shapes and curves were taken from the Bauhaus School and the streamlined modern technology-looking design was melded with images of icons from the Far East, Greece, Rome, Africa, India, and Mayan and Aztec cultures. But above all these, Art Deco took inspiration from an architectural discovery in Egypt.

In 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, thrilled the world with their discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Egypt-chic soon swept the nation and influenced the design of clothes, jewelry, furniture and graphic design. And of course, architecture.

Another style that was popping-up at the same time was the Spanish Mission Revival style, and in California, these two disparate styles found a way to come together in harmony as Hollywood actors were clamoring to get their homes built in the chic Spanish style. California isnt the only place to see the beautiful union of these two styles.
Hawkes Bay has some tremendous Art Deco and Spanish Mission Walks. Hawkes Bay is located in Napier, New Zealand. Following a devastating earthquake in 1931, the whole commercial heart of Napier was destroyed, but the city was about to be reborn in the newest architectural style, and to become the hottest city. In Hawkes Bay, you get to see all the styles right next to each other: Spanish Classic, Spanish mission, and Art Deco, all side by side.

There are also places in the United States that show this great mixture of styles and iconographies. Take for example a lovely Spanish Revival building in St. Louis, by the architect T.P. Barnett, son of George I. Barnett, another famous architect in St. Louis. The T.P. Barnett building is particularly interesting because it also has Art Deco influences, making it one of the most unique buildings in the Grand Center region of St. Louis. Certainly the next time youre in St. Louis, you need to visit this Spanish Revival building on Washington Avenue.