International travel has changed a lot about the way we live our lives. Today, there are many brand names that are so well known that you could show them to someone from Germany, Japan, or the UK and they would recognize them. Cultural differences do exist, but the diets, clothing, and entertainment options available to young people around the world are far more similar now than they were even just 100 years ago.
Architecture is one of the few areas where differences are immediately apparent. You may think that houses should follow basically the same format no matter where in the world they are built, but architecture varies a lot from country to country – partly because of cultural differences, and partly because of the environment.
For example, most homes in the UK and Ireland have pitched roofs because there is a lot of rain. Pitched roofs are far less common in Spain, because rain is less common. Instead, Spanish homes often have flat roofs which can be used as relaxation areas.
In the Dutch Caribbean, homes tend to be tall, narrow gabled houses, however their pitched roofs tend to have brightly coloured tiles, and each house in a street tends to be painted a different, bright pastel colour. This makes them lovely to look at, but it must be a lot of hassle for the inhabitants to keep the paint looking fresh and bright!
In Japan, a lot of people are lucky enough to live in detached houses, but as the population grows there is an increasing trend towards apartment complexes. Open land for building on is at a premium, so it's likely that apartment complexes will become even more common as time goes on. This is in stark contrast to, say, Australia, where it is still common for most families to live in suburbs, in large, single-story houses. These houses feature pitched roofs, large windows, and spacious gardens.
Perhaps the most unusual housing choices are those of people that live in more remote areas. There are many people in Alaska that live in log cabins, and the Inuits of Canada choose to live in igloos. These are made of snow during the winter, and of canvas during the summer. Igloos may seem like a rather strange dwelling, but they are surprisingly warm and dry. If you're curious about what it's like to live in a building made of snow and ice, why not try visiting one of the Ice Hotels in Sweden – or, if that's a little beyond your budget, why not pay a short visit to an Ice Bar?
Some of the most interesting modern architecture can be found in Abu Dhabi. The city has invested a lot of money into architecture in the past few years, and has managed to embrace technology whilst still holding on to the culture and history of the United Arab Emirates. This makes for some breathtaking modern hotels, malls, and housing complexes.
Tower blocks are becoming a common sight in most parts of the world, but it's still interesting to pay attention to the designs appearing in smaller, single story homes. You can tell a lot about a country through the designs of their richer homes.
Article by Amy Fowler on behalf of Ashbrook Roofing; retailers of pitched roof supplies and other building materials. Photos by quite peculiar, cambodia4kids, roger, Tanaka, Norm & Debra, and gordontour.