Architecture for Kids

Types of Architecture

Alan Gowans categorizes basic architectural types into ten categories which have always stood for and served social institutions universally:

A. Monument and Tomb, commemorates the past of a society such as the Iwojima Monument at Arlington National Cemetary or Grantís Tomb in New York.

B. Shrine and Sanctuary, or a place of ceremonies and rituals, binding a community together, such as the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., or your hometown church or synagogue.

C. Wall and Fort, protection against attacks, such as the Great Wall of China or the Tower of London, a military barracks, or an armory.

D. Shelter, basic protection against the elements; a barn for animals, bus shelter, or grain silo.

E. Homestead, a place to raise a family; your familyís house. An essential element of a homestead is the hearth.

F. Palace, a living and working space for rulers such as Buckingham Palace, Versailles, or the United States Capitol; a place where government meets the people.

G. Public Works, foundations of civilized life, such as windmills, roads, bridges, water works, the railroads and subways, airport terminals etc.

H. Mansion, a large homestead, to include servants. These are built by weathy individuals to proclaim superior social status, such as the Vanderbilt home in New York City or a large Southern planatation. Included in the Mansion category is the apartment house, and hotels.

J. Shops and Offices, facilities for distributing goods or services, such as a villageís general store to the Mall of America outside Minneapolis/St. Paul, or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, or your favorite diner.

K. Amenities, places for community welfare and recreation, such as hospitals, orphanages, libraries, museums, institutional housing such as nursing homes, fairgrounds, or a union hall.


Try This:

Take each of the following and categorize them according to the list above. You may not agree that certain structures belong in the categories that Gowans has created, but categorizing buildings will make you think about them and their functions. (You will find an exhaustive list of structures within their categories on pages 378 - 381 of Gowansí book.)

Can you think of other categories?

Make a list of every building you can think of and categorize them into this list.

In American society today, are some building types more important that others? Try listing A. through K. in the order of importance to you. This list will tell you something about your values -- what you consider most important and least important.