Architecture arose from needs such as shelter, security, worship and means such as available building materials and attendant skills. As human cultures developed and knowledge began to be formalized through oral traditions and practices, architecture became a craft. Vernacular architecture continues to be produced in many parts of the world and make up most of the buildings that people experience every day.
Early human settlements were mostly rural. Due to a surplus in production the economy began to expand resulting in urbanization thus creating urban areas which grew and evolved very rapidly in some cases, such as that of Çatal Huyuk in Anatolia and Mohenjo Daro in India.
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 styles developed. Texts on architecture began to be written in the Classical period. These became canons to be followed in important works, especially religious architecture. Some examples of canons are found in the writings of Vitruvius, the KaoGongJi of ancient China and Vaastu Shastra of ancient India.
Islamic architecture began in the 7th century CE, developing from the architectural forms of the ancient Middle East but developing features to suit the religious and social needs of the society. In Europe, in both the Classical and Medieval periods, buildings were not attributed to specific individuals and the complexity of buildings and their types increased with schools, hospitals, and recreational facilities emerging.
With the Renaissance and its emphasis on the individual and humanity rather than religion, and with all its attendant progress and achievements, a new chapter began. Buildings were ascribed to specific architects – Brunelleschi, Alberti, Michelangelo, Palladio – and the cult of the individual had begun. But there was no dividing line between artist, architect and engineer, or any of the related vocations.
With the emerging knowledge in scientific fields and the rise of new materials and technology, architecture and engineering began to separate, and the architect began to lose ground on some technical aspects of building design. He therefore concentrated on aesthetics and the humanist aspects.
There was also the rise of the “gentleman architect” who usually dealt with wealthy clients and concentrated predominantly on visual qualities derived usually from historical prototypes, typified by the many country houses of Great Britain that were created in the Neo-Gothic or Scottish Baronial styles.
Formal architectural training, in the 19th century, at, for example Ecole des Beaux Arts in France, gave much emphasis to the production of beautiful drawings and little to context and feasibility.
Effective architects generally received their training in the offices of other architects, graduating to the role from draughtsmen or clerks.