Reviewed October 2019
Stacy R. Williams, Head, Architecture & Fine Arts Library
University of Southern California Libraries
WikiArquitectura is a free online encyclopedia that documents architects and buildings from around the world, and which describes itself as the largest architecture encyclopedia available on the internet. The site does not require users to login nor to create an account, and users have the option of displaying the site in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese. Some of the contributors to the site are stated to be architects and teachers, as well as folks from other career sectors. According to the about section of the site, WikiArchitectura has been developing for over ten years, with Spanish web developer Guillermo Blanco Luciano Carone noted as the site’s owner.
The main page is a grid of clickable squares with images of architectural works; the images change every time the page is reloaded. Within the grid of squares are four rectangles with text that display the categories of information that the site provides: 1247 Buildings; 1152 Architects; 529 Cities; 119 Building Types. Clicking on an image of an architectural work will lead users directly to the article about that building, while choosing the categories will display a list of available articles. Articles are comprehensive in detail, but sources of information and images are not cited and no authors are credited.
Along the left side of the homepage are nine different icons that can be used to browse for information available in WikiArquitectura or to search via Google. The magnifying glass icon incorporates a Google search, with search results displaying links either to entries within WikiArquitectura, or something entirely different, such as ads or sponsored external websites, a downside of this cost-free resource. Other icons allow users to browse lists of buildings, architects, places, dates, typologies, and random projects. A browse by building, architect, place, or typology will generate an alphabetical listing of what is available, and choosing the random projects icon will allow users to view a random assortment of architectural projects.
Under the date option, users can look for buildings that were built “A long, long time ago” to the present day; while the site’s inventory isn’t comprehensive, the included list of buildings provides enough basic information to create a brief timeline of the built environment. Clicking on a year generates a list of images of projects included in WikiArquitectura that were built during that year; however, because the site is still developing, some years have no buildings listed. For example, at the time of this review, clicking on 2017 and 2019 did not display any buildings, and the year 2018 was not listed at all. Other years, for example 2016, are listed multiple times with the same images displayed for each repeated date entry, with no apparent reason for repeated date entries.
In WikiArquitectura’s articles about architectural projects, users will find information including name of the building, the year built, the architect(s), and location, as well as some history of the building’s development, plans and sections, and photographs. Articles about architects include an image of the architect, birth year and death date, if relevant. An image list of buildings will also be displayed. Articles about a place will list the buildings that are at that location, and in typologies, users will see all of the building entries of that program type available on the site. While all of this information is likely helpful to users, the site does not credit any authors or sources for the textual content or images, which brings into question the sources and copyright compliance for the site. Additionally, each article includes links to sponsored searching and advertisements, which can clutter the page and distract from informational content. The site also includes a curated list of books from Amazon.com that is maintained by the site and from which users can purchase. One assumes that this list, along with the advertisements and sponsored searching, is how the website is able to remain free and accessible.
While the encyclopedia template is great for many users who are looking for quick information, some of the entries need to be corrected and many users may be distracted by the ads and sponsored links. Lastly, while the site seems streamlined and easy to use, citations are lacking, making the authority of WikiArquitectura’s encyclopedia entries questionable. Researchers who are looking for a peer reviewed, online encyclopedia that is also open access may find SAH Archipedia more worthwhile. However, if edited to include sources and citations, WikiArquitectura could become a reliable and visually appealing online resource.