Naming things helps us understand and keep track of them, so it should be no surprise that people regularly ask architects what “style” buildings fall into. Often there is no simple answer, but here are a few graphic design projects that can help you put architecture into its historical context and start to tease out stylistic influences.
First, this poster from Pop Chart Lab began as an ambitious attempt to document vernacular architecture around the world. “After diving into the research,” say the poster’s creators, “it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to be feasible due to the volume of data.” Instead, they ended up focusing on single-family homes in the United States, settling on 121 hand-drawn houses representing urban and rural residential styles, including: Colonial, Romantic, Victorian, Eclectic, Modern, Neo-Eclectic with subsections such as Italian Renaissance Revival and Ranch.
Next, an infographic from Part Select narrows the scope even further, featuring an array of popular European and American typologies. Their graphic goes in depth, too, listing off key details that help define and distinguish different styles like Tudor, Victorian and Craftsman.
Many dwellings do not fit these categories neatly, but knowing the parts can help you piece together a whole picture. Understanding architectural details and styles can give people a better sense of their everyday built environments, helping put architecture in context.
For further reading, you may also want to grab a copy of A Field Guide to American Houses. The book breaks down design types and details even further (particularly useful given the ways styles get intermixed).