My husband and I are about to embark on the journey of building our next home and we’ve been giving a lot of thought to what we want the exterior facade to look like. Fortunately, David and I usually agree when it comes to the aesthetics of our home, but we’re not seeing eye to eye on the windows. We both want a more timeless and traditional look for the architecture the house, but David likes arched windows and I prefer the cleaner, more transitional look of windows that are squared off. We’ve been going back and forth on this for weeks, so I decided to brush up on my interior design history and take another look at the history of the arch.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

Arches have been around since the 2nd millennium BC. Throughout history, they have served as the basic structural support for many buildings, as well as a key aesthetic element in design. It was the ancient Romans who first began to incorporate arches into a wide variety of architectural applications, including bridges, aqueducts and gates, as well as the triumphal arch, which was a monument erected to celebrate a military victory. Arches were also common in other parts of the ancient world, including Asia, Africa and the Americas.

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Arches can be classified into three categories, circular, pointed and parabolic. Rounded arches were used in ancient architecture and were constructed of heavy masonry. Ancient Romans relied on the rounded arch in order to span great lengths.

Orval Abbey, Belgium

Pointed arches were more common in Gothic architecture and allowed for taller openings.


Sant Cugat del Valles, Spain

The parabolic arch appeared occasionally in ancient history, but gained popularity in the 1880’s. It is often used today in the construction of bridges because it allows for longer spans.


Photograph by Carl Mayfield

While concrete, steel and glass have replaced the arch as a predominant means of structural support, the arch has remained a widely used form in modern architecture and design. So where will we land when it comes to our own house? Maybe we will have to compromise and do a combination of arched and square windows, as seen on this timeless beauty designed by Architect Kevin Harris and featured in Luxe Interiors. Stay tuned for the verdict.