Nunzia Rondanini stated, „Through its aesthetic dimension architecture goes beyond the functional aspects that it has in common with other human sciences. Through its own particular way of expressing values, architecture can stimulate and influence social life without presuming that, in and of itself, it will promote social development.‘
To restrict the meaning of (architectural) formalism to art for art’s sake is not only reactionary; it can also be a purposeless quest for perfection or originality which degrades form into a mere instrumentality“.
In the late 20th century a new concept was added to those included in the compass of both structure and function, the consideration of sustainability, hence sustainable architecture. To satisfy the contemporary ethos a building should be constructed in a manner which is environmentally friendly in terms of the production of its materials, its impact upon the natural and built environment of its surrounding area and the demands that it makes upon non-sustainable power sources for heating, cooling, water and waste management, and lighting.
Early human settlements were mostly rural. Expending economies resulted in the creation of urban areas which in some cases grew and evolved very rapidly, such as that of Çatal Höyük in Anatolia and Mohenjo Daro of the Indus Valley Civilization in modern-day Pakistan.
Neolithic settlements and „cities“ include Göbekli Tepe and Çatalhöyük in Turkey, Jericho in the Levant, Mehrgarh in Pakistan, Knap of Howar and Skara Brae, Orkney Islands, Scotland, and the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture settlements in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.
Early Asian writings on architecture include the Kao Gong Ji
In many ancient civilizations such as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, architecture and urbanism reflected the constant engagement with the divine and the supernatural, and many ancient cultures resorted to monumentality in architecture to represent symbolically the political power of the ruler, the ruling elite, or the state itself.
The architecture and urbanism of the Classical civilizations such as the Greek and the Roman evolved from civic ideals rather than religious or empirical ones and new building types emerged. Architectural „style“ developed in the form of the Classical orders. Roman architecture was influenced by Greek architecture as they incorporated many Greek elements into their building practices.
Texts on architecture have been written since ancient time. These texts provided both general advice and specific formal prescriptions or canons. Some examples of canons are found in the writings of the 1st-century BCE Roman Architect Vitruvius. Some of the most important early examples of canonic architecture are religious.
The architecture of different parts of Asia developed along different lines from that of Europe; Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh architecture each having different characteristics. Buddhist architecture, in particular, showed great regional diversity. Hindu temple architecture, which developed around the 3rd century BCE, is governed by concepts laid down in the Shastras, and is concerned with expressing the macrocosm and the microcosm. In many Asian countries, pantheistic religion led to architectural forms that were designed specifically to enhance the natural landscape.
Islamic architecture began in the 7th century CE, incorporating architectural forms from the ancient Middle East and Byzantium, but also developing features to suit the religious and social needs of the society. Examples can be found throughout the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, the Indian Sub-continent and in parts of Europe, such as Spain, Albania, and the Balkan States, as the result of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.