This original look at architecture aims to help us understand the cultural significance of the buildings that surround us. It avoids the traditional style-spotting approach in favour of giving an idea of what it is about buildings that moves us, and what it is that makes them important artistically and culturally. The book begins by looking at how architecture acquires meaning through tradition, and concludes with the exoticism of the recent avant garde. Illustrations of particular buildings help to anchor the general points with specific examples, from ancient Egypt to the present day.