A Brief History of Houses | Tata Steel Aashiyana

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Humans are intelligent and different from all the other mammals inhabiting the earth. They have the unique ability to combine different types of knowledge and information to gain a better and detailed understanding of different subjects. The human race has come a long way, with many inventions and innovations to make life better for themselves. Several revolutions have taken place, which is changing the way humans live on earth. One such aspect of human life that has undergone tremendous change is housing. The evolution of human shelter is spectacular, and it is worth travelling back in time to know about this stupendous journey.

What is Human Shelter & Why Humans Need It?

The shelter is one of the fundamental requirements for every human being along with food and clothing. It protects human beings from wild animals, natural disasters, and changing climatic conditions. So, humans need shelter to feel protected and for a sense of well-being. It is a comfortable place for a person where one can rest, rejuvenate and revive.

In different phases of human life, there were varied forms of shelter. The history of human life gets traced to the primitive era. During the Palaeolithic age also referred to as the stone age, for survival and in search of food, human beings lived under the trees and in natural caves. This era was around 25000 years ago. It was followed by the Neolithic age, about 10000 years ago after the Palaeolithic age. During this period, humans started using grass and wood to make their shelter in the form of a tent or hut. After this was the Megalithic age, where formation of places of worship took place using stone. There have been many changes and transitions. Let’s learn more about it through the different ages and civilisations to appreciate what humans have achieved today.

The Stone Age

In the prehistoric era, man relied on nature for shelter and protection. The earliest form of housing was in the way of trees where people got minimal protection from the sun, rain and cold weather. However, it did protect against the animals that could not climb the tree. Another natural form of shelter was the caves. These provide protection against weather but not from the wild animals. The first manmade shelter got made with stones and tree branches. The stones got placed on the surface building the base of the structure for holding the branches in place. With time, materials like stone slabs, bones and animal hide got used to building a stable, comfortable and secure shelter. Later, the man started to make clay blocks and used it as the building block.

Ancient Civilizations

Around 3100 BC, the ancient Egyptians started using sun-dried blocks to make flat-topped houses. Most domestic dwellings got built using perishable materials like wood and clay bricks. However, peasants continued to live in simple homes and palaces with more elaborate structures got made for the elite. The Assyrians further improved the concept of sun-dried bricks after 600 years. They discovered that baking bricks in the fire could make them harder and enhance their durability. They also started glazing the bricks to strengthen them and for improving their resistance to water.

The ancient Greeks also lived in well-made stone houses with slanted roofs. Most of the structures were made using sun-dried bricks or wooden framework with some fibrous material like straw or seaweed. The Romans further improved the technique used by Greeks. They introduced the concept of central heating that provided them with protection from the cold weather. They started to lay down earthenware pipes under the floors and roof and ran hot water or air on them to heat.

Chinese Architecture

Like most civilisations, the Chinese architecture was getting made with sun-dried clay bricks. With these bricks, wood frames got used, and it formed the foundation of the structure. The roofs got constructed without nails via layering the different pieces in interlocking bracket sets. In the Chinese architecture, the three main components were the foundation platform, timber frame and decorative roof. From the era of the Tang dynasty, i.e. 618-907 AD, wood got replaced with stone and bricks. This further made the buildings more durable and protected against fire, rotting and weathering.

Middle Ages

The collapse of the Roman Empire around 400 AD marks the beginning of the Middle Ages. Initially, the Germans and the Scandinavians took over, and they supported the structure with the framework of heavy timber or wood and filled the spaces between the wood with clay. There was also the use of water-filled moats, drawbridges and thick stonewalls to fortify some of these structures build by the Germans and Scandinavians. In the 15th century, Europeans started constructing half-timbered houses with bricks and stone foundations. Tree trunks got placed in the corners of the house, and sturdy wooden beams got used for supporting the house.

Early Modern Period

This period includes the early industrial age and late Renaissance period. The house construction during this period witnessed many technological advancements. There was extensive use of glass and focus was on the design and architecture of the building. Then, with the advent of the early industrial period, there were innovations underway. Mass production, use of the steam engine and large-scale availability of iron became common. Iron beams started getting used for supporting the entire structure of the house. Bricks started getting manufactured in factories with the use of kilns, and their cost came down significantly. The advent of steam and water-powered sawmills led to the manufacturing of wood in a standard size. Cheap nails were also becoming readily available. All this reduced the house construction cost and balloon framing became common.

The Contemporary Era

In today’s world, much has changed, and houses are elaborate structures with buildings becoming common. For construction purpose, there is increasing use of steel, concrete and glass. Even the building designs are getting complex, and a combination of materials are getting used in the construction process. Reinforced concrete is one such combination material where steel rods get combined with concrete for providing a stable and solid structure. In this era, the focus is not only on durability and robustness, instead houses should also offer comfort and luxurious feel to the inhabitants.

House design and construction has reached a new level in today’s time. Automation, classy and contemporary are the buzz words. With the variety available these days, choosing the design, material and products for the house can get overwhelming. If you are planning to construct your dream abode, then seek help from the Tata Steel Aashiyana service provider to make the process of house construction easy for you. The experts can explain to you about various house styles and designs and connect you with prominent construction material suppliers in your city. Along with home designs, they can also guide you about roof designs and gate designs. Getting your house constructed will be comfortable with such a team of specialists by your side. If house construction is on your mind, then trust the experts at Tata Steel Aashiyana and design a tasteful abode.

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