On a recent trip to Italy to visit family living overseas, it was hard not to acknowledge the treasure trove of building methods and techniques started by the Greeks and Etruscans, refined by the Romans, and copied ever since throughout the world. Even in the residential subdivisions and urban infill projects of today, a variety of architectural elements and exterior elevations continue to borrow from ideas of the past.
But it was probably their expertise with arch-based structures which allowed them to expand, strengthen and defend their territory to a much larger empire with the use of bridges, aqueducts and gates. Due to the way in which arches transfer forces to the surrounding foundation, such structures tend to both strong and long-lasting, which is why you’ll still see remnants of arch-based aqueducts throughout Italy today.
While our large public spaces of today often include obvious design cues from the Greeks and Romans with their rows of high columns and detailed porticos, the influence of the ancient, Renaissance, Baroque and Colonial periods of history continue to be used in many new homes today.
In the U.S., because the country was colonized by so many different types of Europeans, colonial architecture can also include design cues from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and France. When the industrial age made mass production and transportation more affordable over rail lines, various elaborate Victorian homes sprung up in even more modest neighborhoods.