Architecture is the practice of designing and creating buildings and other structures, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. One of architecture's key characteristics is that it involves both form and function, which means that an architect must design a structure that is both useful and aesthetically pleasing. This requirement separates architecture from construction, which only involves putting up a structure that is functional.
Only a certain portion of man-made structures qualify as works of architecture. The structure in question must meet three specific conditions. It needs to be well adapted to the main types of activities that are meant to take place in the building. The structure must also be permanent and have an attractive or memorable appearance.
Different cultures have different architectural styles. The buildings of Asia and Africa are often quite different than those of Europe, for instance. The architecture of a culture is a guide to that society's history and aesthetic values.
Styles of architecture evolve and change over time. The architecture of a particular period in history often provides great insight into what was happening at that time. For example, the massive cathedrals of the Middle Ages are an indicator of the primary role of religion in the daily life of that era.