gate AD 1500

The Changing Periods of Houses in Centuries

In the time between the beginning of the 16th century (the period of witch-hunts, superstition, leaded lights and fort like houses, a form which is still occasionally in demand) and the present day, astonishing advances have been made in science, technology and industry. As a result the outlook of society has changed radically. In the intervening centuries it is clearly evident from buildings and their details, as well as other aspects of life, that people have become freer and more self-aware, and their buildings lighter and brighter.
The house today is no longer perceived as a fortress offering protection against enemies, robbers or ‘demons’ but rather as a complementary framework for our way of life – open to nature and yet in every respect protected against its inclemency.


People generally see and feel things differently. Designers must therefore use their creativity as far as possible to translate our shared experience into reality and express it through the materials at their disposal. The attitude of the client is of the greatest significance in this issue. In some ways, many clients and architects are still living in the 15th century while few of each have arrived in the new millennium. If the ‘centuries’ meet in the right way, then a happy marriage between client and architect is assured.



accessAround AD 1500, houses and towns were protected by high walls and heavy gates →①.

By 1700 walls and gates were only symbolic, giving glimpses of the garden →②.

In the 1800, detached houses were built in open surroundings with low fences →③.

Twentieth century houses have no enclosure (in the US, particularly) and stand unobtrusively among trees in large communal parks →④.



entrancesIn AD 1000: log cabins had low doors, high thresholds; no windows; lit through an opening in the roof →⑤.

By 1500: heavy, studded doors with knocker, and windows with bars and bull’s eye panes →⑥.

Around the 1700, doors had clear glass panes with decorative glazing bars (also, a bell-pull) →⑦.

Twentieth century: covered walkway leads from car to door (wired plate glass), which slides open when an electric eye is activated →⑧.


Room Connections

room connectionsPeriod 1500: low the-changing-periods-of-houses-in-centuries, heavy doors, sparse day-lighting, and floors of short, wide boards →⑨.

In the 1700, wide double doors led into suites of rooms with parquet flooring →⑩.

By 1900, sliding doors were fitted between rooms, linoleum flooring, sliding windows, and draw curtains →⑪.

Twentieth century rooms are flexible: sliding walls and plate glass windows; Venetian blinds/shutters as protection from the sun →⑫.



housesThe timber house (AD 1500) was influenced by the environment, method of construction and the way of life →⑬.

The stone house (AD 1500): massive walls, to combat enemies/cold, required the same area as the rooms themselves →⑭.

The house of period 2000 will have slender steel supports and slim non-load-bearing curtain walling, the composition of which affords full protection against the weather, and maximum noise and heat insulation. Open plan, with dividing screens between living area, dining room and hall (no doors) →⑮.


Taken from: Architects’ Data by Ernst and Peter Neufert

No Comments

Leave a Comment