The Evolution of The Balustrade

What is balustrading? Well, in simple terms, it is a railing that prevents one from falling or getting over the other side of a particular area. Balustrading has and always will be an important part of any building, regardless of it being a personal home, or an office space. Over the years though, the feature, which was mainly for safety purposes has now been imbued with an aesthetic purpose too. This is because architects no longer look at the functionality of a building, but also its aesthetics, and any architect would always want create something that is unique and stands out from the rest. Let us see how this simple element of a building evolved over the years.


In the early days of architecture, balustrades were merely used as elements that would protect inhabitants from any sort of danger, be it from falling off a height to venturing off into a dangerous area. However, with the experimentation of up and coming architects, especially from the European continent, balustrades became an ornament of sorts, as it was built with such attention to detail. Pone could point such an evolution to the Italian architect, Andrea Palladio, who always followed the rules of symmetry in architecture. This was eventually adapted by the British and became a widely known way of building structures, so much so that it was implanted in colonies too. During this time, the balustrade was normally built using regular brick and plaster, however, was shaped in the manner of ancient Greek pillars, making it all the more elegant.


However, during the industrial revolution that took place during the 18th Century, production processes changed. Furthermore, this era ushered in an ever-growing middle class that could afford to build their own houses with proper brick and mortar, as opposed to timber. Even though the middle class was getting more affluent, they still were looking for cheaper and alternative ways to make their living. Their houses for one would not use brick and plaster to build their balustrades since it was more costly, and as a result, many used steels as a cheaper alternative. Although not making for an aesthetic balustrade, it still did its function of being a railing and protection.


Since steel was prone to the elements, an alternative that could resist the outside world was found. This was the powder coated aluminium. These alternative enabled structures to be built in a sturdier and rugged manner, as well as maintaining some sort of aesthetic value. Furthermore, this was also considered a modern design element during the 1970s up until the 1990s, which can still be seen today in a number of old buildings and houses.


The early 2000s saw a shift in the material used to make balustrades. Glass balustrading became a trend in every modern home and building, as it gave out a very unique simplistic and unique feel, as opposed to the aluminium. Installed as a railing and as a barrier of sorts, the once brittle material has now been tempered, so as to withstand the elements and heavy weights. Something as simple as glass does not seem to be going out of fashion in designing structures by architects. In other words, balustrading is here to stay.

Balustrades may be overlooked by many ordinary individuals in any structure, but to an architect, it could result in the beautification of it, and this is just a summary of how they were made.


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