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Classical Architecture Terms Glossary

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This is a list of terms used in classical architecture.

Building elements

Acroterion - ornament mounted at the apex of the pediment of a building

An acroterion or acroterium is an architectural ornament placed on a flat base called the acroter or plinth, and mounted at the apex of the pediment of a building in the Classical style. It may also be placed at the outer angles of the pediment; such acroteria are referred to as acroteria angularia. The acroterion may take a wide variety of forms, such as a statue, tripod, disc, urn, palmette or some other sculpted feature. Acroteria are also found in gothic architecture.

Aedicule

In religion in ancient Rome, an aedicula (plural aediculae) is a small shrine. The word aedicula is the diminutive of the Latin aedes, a temple building or house.

Many aediculae were household shrines that held small altars or statues of the Lares and Penates. The Lares were Roman deities protecting the house and the family household gods. The Penates were originally patron gods (really genii) of the storeroom, later becoming household gods guarding the entire house.

Other aediculae were small shrines within larger temples, usually set on a base, surmounted by a pediment and surrounded by columns. In Roman architecture the aedicula has this representative function in the society. They are installed in public buildings like the Triumphal arch, City gate, or Thermes. The Celsus Library in Ephesus (2. c. AD) is a good example. From the 4th century Christianization of the Roman Empire onwards such shrines, or the framework enclosing them, are often called by the Biblical term tabernacle, which becomes extended to any elaborated framework for a niche, window or picture.

Aegis

An aegis (pronounced /ˈiːdʒɨs/), from Greek αιγίς, is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small version of the shield appearing on the garment. It originally was derived from the protective shield associated with a religious figure when related in myths and images. The wearing of the aegis and its contents show sponsorship, protection, or authority derived from yet a higher source or deity. The name has been extended to many other entities, and the concept of a protective shield is found in other mythologies, while its form varies across sources.

The concept of doing something "under someone's aegis" now means doing something under the protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source. The word aegis is identified with protection by a strong force with its roots in Greek mythology and adopted by the Romans; there are parallels in Norse mythology and in Egyptian mythology as well, where the Greek word aegis is applied by extension.

Apse

In architecture, the apse (Greek αψις (apsis), then Latin absis: "arch, vault"; sometimes written apsis; plural apses) is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome. In Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral and church architecture, the term is applied to a semi-circular or polygonal termination of the main building at the liturgical east end (where the altar is), regardless of the shape of the roof, which may be flat, sloping, domed, or hemispherical.

Arch

An arch is a structure that spans a space while supporting weight (e.g. a doorway in a stone wall). Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.

The semicircular arch was followed in Europe by the pointed Gothic arch or ogive whose centreline more closely followed the forces of compression and which was therefore stronger. The semicircular arch can be flattened to make an elliptical arch as in the Ponte Santa Trinita. The parabolic and catenary arches are now known to be the theoretically strongest forms. Parabolic arches were introduced in construction by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, who admired the structural system of Gothic style, but for the buttresses, which he termed “architectural crutches”. The catenary and parabolic arches carry all horizontal thrust to the foundation and so do not need additional elements.

Architrave

In classical entablature the architrave (from Italian: architrave, also called an epistyle from Greek επίστυλο, epistylo or door frame) is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns. As such, it is the lowest part of the entablature consisting of architrave, frieze and cornice. The word is derived from the Greek and Latin words arche and trabs combined together to mean "main beam". They are mainly used in churches and cathedrals, and other religious buildings. They can also be seen in modern houses.

The architrave is different in the different orders. In the Tuscan, it only consists of a plain face, crowned with a fillet, and is half a module in height. In the Doric and composite, it has two faces, or fasciae; and three in the Ionic and Corinthian, in which it is 10/12 of a module high, though but half a module in the rest.

The word architrave is also used to refer more generally to the mouldings (or other elements) framing a door, window or other rectangular opening.

Archivolt

An archivolt (or voussure) is an ornamental molding or band following the curve on the underside of an arch. It is composed of bands of ornamental moldings (or other architectural elements) surrounding an arched opening, corresponding to the architrave in the case of a rectangular opening. The word is sometimes used to refer to the under-side or inner curve of the arch itself (more properly, the intrados).

The word originates in the Italian (or French) equivalents of the English words arch and vault.

Ante-Fixae

An antefix (from Latin antefigere, to fasten before) is a vertical block which terminates the covering tiles of the roof of a tiled roof. In grand buildings the face of each stone ante-fix was richly carved, often with the anthemion ornament. In less grand buildings moulded ceramic ante-fixae, usually terracotta, might be decorated with figures or other ornament, especially in the Roman period. By this time they were found on many large buildings, including private houses.

Amphiprostyle

In classical architecture, Amphiprostyle denotes a temple with a portico both at the front and the rear. This never exceeded the use of four columns in the front, and four in the rear. The best-known example is the tetrastyle small Temple of Athena Nike at Athens.

Bracket (architecture)

A bracket is an architectural member made of wood, stone, or metal that overhangs a wall to support or carry weight. It may also support a statue, the spring of an arch, a beam, or a shelf. Brackets are often in the form of scrolls, and can be carved, cast, or molded. They can be entirely ornamental and serve no supporting purpose. Among these types of brackets is the corbel.

A bracket is also defined as a decorative or weight-bearing structural element, two sides of which form a right angle with one side against a wall and the other under a projecting surface, such as an eave or a bay window.

Capital

In several traditions of architecture including Classical architecture, the capital (from the Latin caput, 'head') forms the crowning member of a column or a pilaster. The capital projects on each side as it rises, to support the abacus and unite the form of the latter (normally square) with the circular shaft of the column. The bulk of the capital may either be convex, as in the Doric order; concave, as in the inverted bell of the Corinthian order; or scrolling out, as in the Ionic order. These form the three principal types on which all capitals are based. The Composite order established in the 16th century on a hint from the Arch of Titus, adds Ionic volutes to Corinthian acanthus leaves.

Caryatid

A caryatid (Greek: Καρυάτις, plural: Καρυάτιδες) is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head. The Greek term karyatides literally means "maidens of Karyai", an ancient town of Peloponnese. Karyai had a famous temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in her aspect of Artemis Karyatis: "As Karyatis she rejoiced in the dances of the nut-tree village of Karyai, those Karyatides, who in their ecstatic round-dance carried on their heads baskets of live reeds, as if they were dancing plants" (Kerenyi 1980 p 149).

Cella

A cella (from Latin for small chamber) or naos (from the Greek Ναός meaning temple), is the inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture, or a shop facing the street in domestic Roman architecture. Its enclosure within walls has given rise to extended meanings, of a hermit's or monk's cell, and since the 17th century, of a biological cell in plants or animals.

Coffer

A coffer (or coffering) in architecture, is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit or vault. A series of these sunken panels were used as decoration for a ceiling or a vault, also called caissons ('boxes"), or lacunaria ("spaces, openings"), so that a coffered ceiling can be called a lacunar ceiling: the strength of the structure is in the framework of the coffers. The stone coffers of the ancient Greeks and Romans are the earliest surviving examples, but a seventh-century BCE Etruscan chamber tomb in the necropolis of San Giuliano, which is cut in soft tufa-like stone reproduces a ceiling with beams and cross-beams lying on them, with flat panels fillings the lacunae. Wooden coffers were first made by crossing the wooden beams of a ceiling in the Loire Valley châteaux of the early Renaissance.

Colonnade

In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building.

When in front of a building, screening the door (Latin porta), it is called a portico, when enclosing an open court, a peristyle. A portico may be more than one rank of columns deep, as at the Pantheon in Rome or the stoae of Ancient Greece. Paired or multiple pairs of columns are normally employed in a colonnade, but the porch of columns that surrounds a peripteral classical temple (such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.) can be termed a colonnade.

Column

A column in structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces. Other compression members are often termed "columns" because of the similar stress conditions. Columns are frequently used to support beams or arches on which the upper parts of walls or ceilings rest. In architecture "column" refers to such a structural element that also has certain proportional and decorative features. A column might also be a decorative or triumphant feature but need not be supporting any structure e.g. a statue on top.

Cornice

Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.

The function of the projecting cornice is to throw rainwater free of the building’s walls. In residential building practice, this function is handled by projecting gable ends, roof eaves, and gutters. The elimination of the cornice has been important enough in modernist architecture, that elaborate internal drainage systems are provided.

Crepidoma

Crepidoma is an architectural term related to ancient Greek buildings. The crepidoma is the platform of, usually, three levels upon which the superstructure of the building is erected. The levels typically decrease in size incrementally, forming a series of steps along all or some sides of the building. The crepidoma rests on the euthynteria (foundation), which is normally constructed of locally available stone for the sake of economy.

Crocket

A crocket is a hook-shaped decorative element common in Gothic architecture. It is in the form of a stylised carving of curled leaves, buds or flowers which is used at regular intervals to decorate the sloping edges of spires, finials, pinnacles, and wimpergs.

When used to decorate the capital of columns, these are called crocket capitals. This element is also used as an ornament on furniture and metalwork in the Gothic style. The name derives from the diminutive of the French croc, meaning "hook", due to the resemblance of crockets to a bishop's crosier.

Cupola

In architecture, a cupola (pronounced /ˈkjuːpələ/) is a small, most-often dome-like structure, on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome. The word derives, via Italian, from the lower Latin cupula (classical Latin cupella from the Greek kypellon) small cup (Latin cupa) indicating a vault resembling an upside down cup. Cupolas often appear as small buildings in their own right. They often serve as a belfry, lantern, or belvedere above a main roof. In other cases they may crown a tower, spire, or turret. The chhatri, seen in Indian architecture, fits the definition of a cupola when it is used atop a larger structure.

Decastyle (portico)

A portico (from Italian) is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls. This idea first appeared in Ancient Greece and has influenced many cultures, including most Western cultures.

Some noteworthy examples of porticos are the East Portico of the United States Capitol, the portico adorning the Pantheon in Rome and the portico of University College London.

Diocletian (thermal) window

Diocletian windows, also called thermal windows, are large semicircular windows characteristic of the enormous public baths (thermae) of Ancient Rome. They have been revived on a limited basis by some classical revivalist architects in more modern times.

Dome

A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory.

Corbel domes and true domes have been found in the ancient Middle East in modest buildings and tombs. The construction of the first technically advanced true domes in Europe began in the Roman Architectural Revolution, when they were frequently used by the Romans to shape large interior spaces of temples and public buildings, such as the Pantheon. This tradition continued unabated after the adoption of Christianity in the Byzantine (East Roman) religious and secular architecture, culminating in the revolutionary pendentive dome of the 6th century church Hagia Sophia. Squinches, the technique of making a transition from a square shaped room to a circular dome, was most likely invented by the ancient Persians. The Sassanid Empire initiated the construction of the first large-scale domes in Persia, with such royal buildings as the Palace of Ardashir, Sarvestan and Ghal'eh Dokhtar. With the Muslim conquest of the Sassanid Empire, the Persian architectural style became a major influence on Muslim societies. Indeed the use of domes as a feature of Islamic architecture has got its roots from Persia.

Eisodos

Eisodos (or eisodoi) is a term used for Ancient Greek Plays in order to describe any of two passageways leading into the orchestra, between theatron and skenê (also known as the parodos).

Entablature

An entablature (pronounced /ɛnˈtæblətʃər/; Italian intavolatura, from in 'in' and tavola 'table') refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave (the supporting member carried from column to column, pier or wall immediately above), the frieze (an unmolded strip that may or may not be ornamented), and the cornice (the projecting member below the pediment).

Euthynteria

Euthynteria is the ancient Greek term for the uppermost course of a building's foundations, partly emerging from groundline. The superstructure of the building (stereobate and stylobate, columns, walls, and entablature) were set on the euthynteria. Archaeologists and architects use the term in discussion of Classical architecture.

Exedra

In architecture, an exedra is a semicircular recess, often crowned by a semi-dome, which is usually set into a building's facade. The original Greek sense (a seat out of doors) was applied to a room that opened onto a stoa, ringed with curved high-backed stone benches, a suitable place for a philosophical conversation. An exedra may also be expressed by a curved break in a colonnade, perhaps with a semi-circular seat.

The exedra would typically have an apsidal podium that supported the stone running bench. The free-standing exedra, often originally supporting bronze portrait statues is a familiar type of Hellenistic structure, characteristically sited along sacred ways or in open places in sanctuaries, such as at Delos or Epidaurus; sometimes Hellenistic exedras were built in relation to a city's agora, as at Priene.

Finial

The finial is an architectural device, typically carved in stone and employed decoratively to emphasize the apex of a gable or any of various distinctive ornaments at the top, end, or corner of a building or structure. Smaller finials can be used as a decorative ornament on the ends of curtain rods or applied to chairs and furniture. These are frequently seen on top of bed posts or clocks. Decorative finials are also commonly used to fasten lampshades, and as an ornamental element at the end of the handles of souvenir spoons. Architectural finials were once believed to act as a deterrent to witches on broomsticks attempting to land on one's roof. Finial is also a term given to straw animals at the ridges of thatched cottages. Finial maker is the term given to the artisan that makes the straw animal.

Frieze

In architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order—decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon the architrave ('main beam') and is capped by the moldings of the cornice. A frieze can be found on many Greek and Roman buildings, the Parthenon Frieze being the most famous.

Gutta

A gutta (Latin pl. guttae, "drops") is a small water-repelling, cone-shaped projection used in the architrave of the Doric order in classical architecture. At the top of the architrave blocks, a row of six guttae below the narrow projection of the taenia (fillet) and cymatium formed an element called a regula. A regula was aligned under each triglyph of the Doric frieze. In addition, the underside of the projecting geison above the frieze had rectangular protrusions termed mutules that each had three rows of six guttae. These mutules were aligned above each triglyph and each metope. It is thought that the guttae were meant to represent the pegs used in the construction of the wooden structures that preceded the familiar Greek architecture in stone. Water drips over the edges, away from the edge of the building.

Imbrex and tegula - interlocking roof tiles used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture

The imbrex and tegula (plurals imbrices and tegulae) were overlapping roof tiles used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture as a waterproof and durable roof covering. They were made predominantly of fired clay, but also sometimes of marble, bronze or gilt. In Rome they replaced shingles, and were used on almost every type of structure, from humble outbuildings to grand temples and public facilities.

Keystone

A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry vault or arch, which is the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch to bear weight. This makes a keystone very important structurally. Although a masonry arch or vault cannot be self-supporting until the keystone is placed, the keystone experiences the least stress of any of the voussoirs, due to its position at the apex. Old keystones can decay due to vibration, a condition known as bald arch.

Metope (architecture)

In classical architecture, a metope (μετόπη) is a rectangular architectural element that fills the space between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze, which is a decorative band of alternating triglyphs and metopes above the architrave of a building of the Doric order. Metopes often had painted or sculptural decoration; the most famous example is the 92 metopes of the frieze of the Parthenon marbles depicting the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapiths. The painting on most metopes has been lost, but sufficient traces remain to allow a close idea of their original appearance.

Nave

In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" (Medieval Latin navis, "ship") was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting. The nave of a church, whether Romanesque, Gothic or Classical, extends from the entry - which may have a separate vestibule, the narthex — to the chancel and is flanked by lower aisles separated from the nave by an arcade. If the aisles are high and of a width comparable to the central nave, the structure is sometimes said to have three naves.

Opisthodomos

An opisthodomos (ὀπισθόδομος, 'back room') can refer to either the rear room of an ancient Greek temple or to the inner shrine, also called the adyton ('not to be entered'); the confusion arises from the lack of agreement in ancient inscriptions. In modern scholarship, it usually refers to the rear porch of a temple. On the Athenian Acropolis especially, the opisthodomos came to be a treasury, where the revenues and precious dedications of the temple were kept. Its use in antiquity was not standardised. In part because of the ritual secrecy of such inner spaces, it is not known exactly what took place within opisthodomoi: it can safely be assumed that practice varied widely by place, date and particular temple.

Architecturally, the opisthodomos (as a back room) balances the pronaos or porch of a temple, creating a plan with diaxial symmetry. The upper portion of its outer wall could be decorated with a frieze, as on the Hephaisteion and the Parthenon.

Ornament (architecture)

In architecture and decorative art, ornament is a decoration used to embellish parts of a building or object. Architectural ornament can be carved from stone, wood or precious metals, formed with plaster or clay, or impressed onto a surface as applied ornament; in other applied arts the main material of the object, or a different one may be used. A wide variety of decorative styles and motifs have been developed for architecture and the applied arts, including pottery, furniture, metalwork. In textiles, wallpaper and other objects where the decoration may be the main justification for its existence, the terms pattern or design are more likely to be used.

Orthostates

In the context of classical Greek architecture, orthostates are squared stone blocks much greater in height than depth that are usually built into the lower portion of a wall. They are so called because they seem to "stand upright" rather than to lie on their sides. It is typical in Greek architecture for pairs of orthostates to form the thickness of a wall, one serving as the inner and the other serving as the outer face of the wall. Above a course of orthostates, it is common to lay a course of stones spanning the width of the wall and joining its two faces (a binder course).

The term has been generalized for use in the description of the architecture of many cultures. In Assyrian practice, orthostates are often intricately carved. The term may be used more generally of other upright-standing stones, including megalithic menhirs.

Pediment

A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure (entablature), typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding. The tympanum, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with sculptures and reliefs demonstrating scenes of Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures.

Peristyle

In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain an internal garden. Tetrastoon (pronounced tetrastohon) (Greek: τετράστῳον, "four arcades") is another name for this feature. In the Christian ecclesiastical architecture that developed from Roman precedents, a basilica, such as Old St Peter's in Rome, would stand behind a peristyle forecourt that sheltered it from the street. In time the cloister developed from the peristyle.

Pilaster

A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile.

In discussing Leon Battista Alberti's use of pilasters, which Alberti reintroduced into wall-architecture, Rudolf Wittkower wrote, "The pilaster is the logical transformation of the column for the decoration of a wall. It may be defined as a flattened column which has lost its three-dimensional and tactile value."

A pilaster appears with a capital and entablature, also in "low-relief" or flattened against the wall.

Plinth

In architecture, a plinth is the base or platform upon which a column, pedestal, statue, monument or structure rests. Gottfried Semper's The Four Elements of Architecture (1851) posited that the plinth, the hearth, the roof, and the wall make up all of architectural theory. The plinth usually rests directly on the ground, or "stylobate". According to Semper, the plinth exists to negotiate between a structure and the ground. Semper's theory has been very influential in the subsequent development of architecture. In its most basic form, a plinth is a plain, rectangular block of stone (curved plinths are relatively rare).

The word is also used for the base of a cabinet or an audio turntable.

Portico

A portico (from Italian) is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls. This idea first appeared in Ancient Greece and has influenced many cultures, including most Western cultures.

Some noteworthy examples of porticos are the East Portico of the United States Capitol, the portico adorning the Pantheon in Rome and the portico of University College London.

Bologna, Italy, is famous for its porticos. In total, there are over 45 kilometres of arcades, some 38 in the city center. The longest portico in the world, about 3.5 km (2 mi), extends from the edge of the city to Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. In Turin, Italy, porticos stretch for 18 kilometres.

Palladio was a pioneer of using temple-fronts for secular buildings. In the UK, the temple-front applied to The Vyne, Hampshire was the first portico applied to an English country house.

Portico types - tetrastyle, hexastyle, octostyle, decastyle

Prostyle

Prostyle is an architectural term defining free standing columns that are widely spaced apart in a row. The term is often used as an adjective when referring to the portico of a classical building which projects from the main structure. First used in Etruscan and Greek temples, the Romans later on incorporated this motif in their temples.

Example: Temple of Athena Nike, Akropolis, Athens, Greece

This architectural style probably originated in the eastern Greek isles in the 8th century B.C., however there are also many examples in archaic temples in southern Italy.

Quoin

Quoins are the cornerstones of brick or stone walls. Quoins may be either structural or decorative. Architects and builders use quoins to give the impression of strength and firmness to the outline of a building. Rough-finished or rusticated masonry is also frequently used for foundation layers of buildings to give the same impression.

Quoining can be carried out in stone on a stone building, with stone on a predominantly brick building, or by laying brick masonry to give the appearance of blocks at the corner. If structural, quoins are usually part of load-bearing walls; if decorative, they may be made of a variety of materials including brick, stone and wood. The most common form of decorative use for a quoins uses an alternative pattern of rectangles that wrap around the wall, mimicking the pattern of stone blocks or brick as they would wrap around a corner and thus join the two walls. In Georgian architecture, wooden quoins were most often part of an overall theme to imply stone, and thus permanence.

Rustication (architecture)

In classical architecture rustication is an architectural feature that contrasts in texture with the smoothly finished, squared block masonry surfaces called ashlar. Rusticated masonry is usually squared-off but left with a more or less rough outer surface and wide joints that emphasize the edges of each block. Rustication is often used to give visual weight to the ground floor in contrast to smooth ashlar above.

Sima

In classical architecture, a sima is the upturned edge of a roof which acts as a gutter. Sima comes from the Greek simos, meaning bent upwards.

Stoa

Stoa (plural, stoas, stoai, stoae or stoæ) in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.

Later examples were built as two stories, with a roof supporting the inner colonnades where shops or sometimes offices were located. They followed Ionic architecture. These buildings were open to the public; merchants could sell their goods, artists could display their artwork, and religious gatherings could take place. Stoae usually surrounded the marketplaces of large cities.

Stylobate

In classical Greek architecture, a stylobate (Greek: στυλοβάτης) is the top step of the crepidoma, the stepped platform on which colonnades of temple columns are placed (it is the floor of the temple). The platform was built on a leveling course that flattened out the ground immediately beneath the temple.

Suspensura

Suspensura, the architectural term given by Vitruvius to piers of square bricks (about 20 cm X 20 cm) that supported a suspended floor of a Roman bath covering a hypocaust cavity through which the hot air would flow.

Term (architecture)

In Classical architecture a term or terminal figure is a human head and bust that continues as a square tapering pillarlike form. If the bust is of Hermes as protector of boundaries in ancient Greek culture, with male genitals interrupting the plain base at the appropriate height, it may be called a herma or herm. The crime of Alcibiades and his drinking-mates, for which Socrates eventually indirectly paid with his life, was the desecration of herm figures through Athens in the dead of night.

Tracery

Tracery is an architectural term used primarily to describe the stonework elements that support the glass in a Gothic window. The term probably derives from the 'tracing floors' on which the complex patterns of late Gothic windows were laid out.

Triglyph

Triglyph is an architectural term for the vertically channeled tablets of the Doric frieze, so called because of the angular channels in them, two perfect and one divided, the two chamfered angles or hemiglyphs being reckoned as one. The square recessed spaces between the triglyphs on a Doric frieze are called metopes. The raised spaces between the channels themselves (within a triglyph) are called femur in Latin or meros in Greek.

Volute

A volute is a spiral scroll-like ornament that forms the basis of the Ionic order, found in the capital of the Ionic column. It was later incorporated into Corinthian order and Composite column capitals. Four are normally to be found on an Ionic capital, eight on Composite capitals and smaller versions (sometimes called helix) on the Corinthian capital.

The word derives from the Latin voluta ("scroll"). It has been suggested that the ornament was inspired by the curve of a ram's horns, or perhaps was derived from the natural spiral of the ovule of a common species of clover native to Greece. Alternatively, it may simply be of geometrical origins.

Classical orders

Classical orders

A classical order is one of the ancient styles of classical architecture, each distinguished by its proportions and characteristic profiles and details, and most readily recognizable by the type of column employed. From the 16th century onwards, architectural theorists recognized five orders. The orders' origins come from Ancient Greece, later, they were used and modified by Romans. Each style has its proper entablature, consisting of architrave, frieze and cornice.

Composite order

The composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the Ionic order capital with the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order. The composite order volutes are larger, however, and the composite order also has echinus molding with egg-and-dart ornamentation between the volutes. The column of the composite order is ten diameters high.

Corinthian order

The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order. The Corinthian, with its offshoot the Composite, is the most ornate of the orders, characterized by slender fluted columns and an elaborate capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls.

Doric order

The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.

Ionic order

The Ionic order (Greek ιωνικός ρυθμός) forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian. (There are two lesser orders, the stocky Tuscan order and the rich variant of Corinthian, the Composite order, added by 16th century Italian architectural theory and practice.)

Tuscan order

Among canon of classical orders of classical architecture, the Tuscan order's place is due to the influence of the Italian Sebastiano Serlio, who meticulously described the five orders including a "Tuscan order", "the solidest and least ornate", in his fourth book of Regole generalii di Architettura... sopra le cinque maniere degli edifici... (1537). Though Fra Giocondo had attempted a first illustration of a Tuscan capital in his printed edition of Vitruvius (1511), he showed the capital with an egg and dart enrichment that belonged to the Roman Doric order. The "most rustic" Tuscan order of Serlio was later carefully delineated by Andrea Palladio. From the perspective of these writers, the Tuscan order was an older primitive Italic architectural form, predating the Greek Doric and Ionic, associated by Serlio with the practice of rustication and the architectural practice of Tuscany. Giorgio Vasari made a valid argument for this claim by reference to il Cronaca's graduated rustication on the facade of Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. Like all architectural theory of the Renaissance, precedents for a Tuscan order were sought for in Vitruvius, who does not include it among the three canonic orders, but peripherally, in his discussion of the Etruscan temple (book iv, 7.2-3). Later Roman practice ignored the Tuscan order, and so did Leon Battista Alberti in De re aedificatoria (shortly before 1452).

Types of building

Agora

The Agora (Greek: Ἀγορά, Agorá) was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history (10th century–8th century BC), free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the Agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later, the Agora also served as a marketplace where merchants kept stalls or shops to sell their goods amid colonnades. From this twin function of the Agora as a political and commercial space came the two Greek verbs αγοράζω, agorázō, "I shop", and αγορεύω, agoreýō, "I speak in public". The word agoraphobia, the fear of critical public situations, derives from Agora in its meaning as a gathering place.

Amphitheatre

An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment and performances. There are two similar, but distinct, types of structure for which the word 'amphitheatre' is used: Amphitheatres built by the ancient Romans were large central performance spaces surrounded by ascending seating, and were commonly used for spectator sports; these compare more closely to modern open-air stadia. They were given this name because their shape resembled that of two theatres joined together. Modern amphitheatres (incorrectly so named, but the word has come to be used in this sense) are more typically used for theatrical or concert performances and typically feature a more traditionally theatrical-style stage with the audience only on one side, usually at an arc of less than a semicircle; these compare more closely to the theatres of ancient Greece, and have been more commonly built throughout history as performance spaces. Amphitheatres are typically man-made, though there are also geological formations used in the same manner which are known as natural amphitheatres. Special events and games were held in ancient Roman amphitheatres, such as the gladiator games.

Heroon

A heroon (Greek ἡρῷον, plural ἡρῷα, heroa), also called heroum, was a shrine dedicated to an ancient Greek or Roman hero and used for the commemoration or cult worship of the hero. It was often erected over his supposed tomb or cenotaph.

The Romans and the Greeks practised an extensive and widespread cult of heroes. Heroes played a central role in the life of a polis, giving the city a shared focus for its identity. The cult typically centred around the heroon in which the hero's bones were usually believed to be contained. In a sense, the hero was considered still to be alive; he was offered meals and was imagined to be sharing feasts. His allegiance was seen as vitally important to the continued well-being of the city. This led to struggles between Greek cities for control of heroic remains.

Odeion

Odeon (from the Ancient Greek ᾨδεῖον, literally "building for musical competitions", from ἀείδω "I sing", which is also the root of "ode" and "aoidos") is the name for several ancient Greek and Roman buildings built for singing exe

Orchestra

An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus. The orchestra grew by accretion throughout the eighteenth and 19th centuries, but changed very little in composition during the course of the 20th century.

Skênê

In classical drama, the skene was the background building which connected the platform stage, in which costumes were stored and to which the periaktoi (painted panels serving as the background) were connected.

Stoa

Stoa (plural, stoas, stoai, stoae or stoæ) in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.

Later examples were built as two stories, with a roof supporting the inner colonnades where shops or sometimes offices were located. They followed Ionic architecture. These buildings were open to the public; merchants could sell their goods, artists could display their artwork, and religious gatherings could take place. Stoae usually surrounded the marketplaces of large cities.

Temple

A temple (from the Latin word templum) is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out on the ground by the augur. Templa also became associated with the dwelling places of a god or gods. This tradition dates back to prehistoric times. For the ancient Egyptians, the word pr could refer not only to a house, but also to a sacred structure since it was believed that the gods resided in houses. The word "temple" (which dates to about the 6th century BCE), despite the specific set of meanings associated with the religion of the ancient Rome, has now become quite widely used to describe a house of worship for any number of religions and is even used for time periods prior to the Romans.

Theatre

Theatre (or theater, see spelling differences) is a branch of the performing arts. Any performance may be considered theatre; however, as a performing art, theatre focuses almost exclusively on live performers creating a self-contained drama. A performance qualifies as dramatic by creating a representational illusion. By this broad definition, theatre had existed since the dawn of man, as a result of the human tendency for storytelling. Since its inception, theatre has come to take on many forms, utilizing speech, gesture, music, dance, and spectacle, combining the other performing arts, often as well as the visual arts, into a single artistic form.

Tholos

Τholos (Greek: θόλος "round building with conical roof") is the name given to several Ancient Greek structures and buildings:

* The Tholos at Athens was the building which housed the Prytaneion, or seat of government, in ancient Athens
* The Tholos at Delphi is a circular building located approximately 800 metres from the main site of the ruined Temple of Apollo
* The Tholos at Epidaurus is a circular building with an ornate astronomical floor design

Treasury

A treasury is any place where the currency or items of high monetary value (gold, diamonds, etc.) are kept. The term was first used in Classical times to describe the votive buildings erected to house gifts to the gods, such as the Siphnian Treasury in Delphi or many similar buildings erected in Olympia, Greece by competing city-states to impress others during the ancient Olympic Games. In Ancient Greece treasuries were almost always physically incorporated within religious buildings such as temples, thus making state funds sacrosanct and adding moral constraints to the penal ones to those who would have access to these funds.

 

 

Published - January 2011







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