Review key, classical terms by selecting alphabetically - above - or simply scroll down to see our comprehensive & illustrated set of terms and their definitions.
ABACUS a large slab placed above the column capital to support the architrave or an arch placed above it.
ACANTHUS a plant found on the shores of the Mediterranean and particularly admired by the Greeks and Romans for the elegance of its leaves. Found on many classical designs such as the Corinthian and Composite columns.
ACROTERIA plinths for statues or ornaments placed at the apex and ends of a pediment: also, more loosely, both the plinths and what stands on them.
AEDICULE a frame formed by two columns and an entablature with pediment.
AMORINO ornament from the Renaissance; alternatively referred to as a cupid.
AMPHIPROSTYLE when both façades have columns - but no columns on the sides. The number of columns never exceeded four (4) on each façade. An example is the Temple of Nike in Athens, Greece.
ANNULET a small flat fillet encircling a column. It is used under the echinus of a Greek Doric capital several times, and is also called a shaft ring. The term has also been applied to the fillets separating fluted in columns, and is also called a "list" or "listella."
ANTA (ANTAE) a species of pilasters used in Greek & Roman architecture to terminate the pteromata, or side walls, of temples - when they are prolonged beyond the face of the end walls. The first order of temples, according to Vitruvius, is called "in antis," because the pronaos, or porch, in front of the cell is formed by the projection of the pteromata terminated by the antae - with columns between them. They may be said to correspond to the "respond" in English architecture.
ANTEFIX ornamental blocks on the edge of a roof to conceal the ends of the tiles.
ANTHEMION Greek ornament of alternating palmettes and lotus motifs or two types of palmettes (one open, one closed) usually found on a cornice or neck of an Ionic capital; frequently used in the 1700s.
APOPHYGE the small curvature given to the top and bottom of the shaft of a column where it expands to meet the edge of the fillet.
APPLIED COLUMN an engaged column: one attached to a wall.
ARABESQUE geometric intricate surface decoration; no human figures; has interlaced patterns.
ARAEOSTYLE style of the Grecian temples in which the columns are placed at the distance of four (and occasionally five) diameters apart. This style is usually only appropriate to the Tuscan Order, but occasionally found in Hellenistic architecture.
ARCHITRAVE the lowest part of the entablature, the part below the frieze that rests directly on the abacus of the column capital.
ARRIS a sharp edge at the junction of two surfaces, e.g. the flutes of a Greek Doric column meeting in a sharp arris.
ART DECO popular in the 1920s-30s, decorative arts after the war, geometric, stylized, derived from Art Nouveau, bright colors, sunbursts, Egyptian motifs.
ART NOUVEAU popular in England in the 1880s. It was the name of a shop that opened in Paris in 1895 to sell objects of the modern style, a decorative arts design: flowing expressive lines, whiplash curves, flower and leaf motifs, female figures with long undulating hair, came from the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain. It was influenced by Japanese art, Rococo and Celtic art.
ASTRAGAL a small molding of a rounded, convex section. The ring that separates the capital from the column shaft of a Classical column, and may be ornamented.
ASTYLAR meaning, without columns or pilasters.
ATLANTID a sculpted male figure acting as a column to support an entablature, named after Atlas (a Titan in Greek mythology).
ATTIC BASE the base of a Classical column consisting of two torus moldings separated by a scotia with fillets (i.e. two large convex rings between which is a concave molding). This is used with all the Orders except the Greek Doric & the Tuscan.
ATTIC STORY the part placed above the entablature of a building, e.g.: often seen in triumphal arches.
BALUSTER a small column or a little, round, short pillar that is part of a balustrade. The word “baluster” comes from the Italian word blausto or balaustra meaning the flower of the pomegranate.
BALUSTRADE handrail supported by balusters; any of the small posts that support the upper rail of a railing, as in a staircase or porch rail.
BASE MOLDING a projecting molding or band of moldings near the bottom of a wall; it is sometimes placed immediately on top of the plinth, and sometimes a short distance above it, in which case the intervening space is frequently paneled in circles and quatrefoils.
BEAD & REEL a decoration of alternating, sometimes grouped, circular and oval beads generally small in scale and used to enrich the astragal. Also referred to as ''Bead & Barrel.''
BEAM appears formerly, as at present, to have been applied generally to the principal horizontal timbers of a building.
BED MOULD is a convex, rounded molding that is commonly of a semi-circular section. It is molding under a corona, between it and the frieze, or any molding under any projection.
BELL the body of a Corinthian or a Composite capital, supposing the foliage stripped off, is called the bell; the same name is applied also to the Early English and other capitals in Gothic architecture which in any degree resemble this form.
BELVEDERE a tower or turret built for the purpose of giving a view.
BOARD-AND-BATTEN a form of wood siding for exterior walls, consisting of long vertical boards and thin strips, or battens, which extend over adjacent boards or joints (the spaces between adjacent surfaces). Often seen as shutters.
BOAST to shape it into the simple form which approaches nearest to its ultimate figure, leaving the smaller details to be worked out afterwards. Sometimes capitals, corbels, - especially of the thirteenth century - are found in this state, never having been finished. A good example occurs in the crypt at Canterbury.
BOCAGE densely designed leaves and flowers as backgrounds to figures - common in Rococo decorations.
BOLSTER the return side of an Ionic capital resembling a baluster on its side; or a cushion.
BRACKET a small projection, usually decorated, that supports or appears to support a projecting eaves or lintel.
BUCRANE a carved representation of an ox-head or an ox-skull (or aegicrane if ram or goat), garlanded, and found in the metopes of the Roman Doric frieze - often alternating with rosettes or phialai.
CABLE FLUTING a round molding frequently worked in the flutes of columns & pilasters in Classical architecture, and nearly filling up the hollow part. They seldom extend higher than the third part of the shaft.
CAPITAL the crown which joins the top of a column with the abacus and aids in distributing weight. Different types include the simple convex Doric and the highly decorative Corinthian with stylized acanthus leaves.
CARYATID a sculpted female figure acting as a column to support an entablature, e.g.: in the Erechtheion.
CAULICOLI the eight stalks that spring from the upper row of the acanthus leaves in the Corinthian capital.
CAVETTO a concave molding of one quarter of a circle, used in the Grecian and other styles of architecture.
CHAIR RAIL the upper molding of a dado around a room to prevent the backs of chairs from damaging the walls or their coverings. It corresponds to the cornice of a pedestal.
CHAMFER an arris or angle which is slightly pared off is said to be chamfered: a chamfer resembles a splay, but is much smaller, and is usually taken off equally on the two sides.
CHERUB a baby male figure, winged - usually associated with clouds, funerary monuments, etc. in Baroque sculpture. Cherubs are usually podgy, and may be given overt displays of grief. They must be distinguished from putti - which are little boy figures who are wingless.
CHEVRON a zigzag molding (like an upside down V) in Norman architecture, Romanesque.
CIMBIA a band or fillet around the shaft of a column.
CINCTURE a ring of moldings around the top or bottom of the shaft of a column, separating the shaft from the capital or base.
COFFER an ornamental sunken panel, especially in a ceiling. Used to save weight on domed ceilings in ancient architecture.
COIN MOLDING molding that has a repeated series of overlapping discs.
COLONETTE small, thin columns - often used for decoration or to support an arcade.
COLONNADE a row of columns with an entablature. If four, the range is called tetrastyle; if six, hexastyle; if eight, octastyle; if ten, decastyle. When a colonnade stands before a building it is called a portico, and if it surrounds a building, it is called a peristyle.
COLOSSAL a large column more than a story in height. Also known as "Giant" columns.
COLUMN used to support the abacus and architrave without the necessity of a wall. There are several types including the simple and earliest the Doric. They may also be free-standing and often commemorate significant historical events such as Trajan’s Column.
COLUMNIATION an arrangement of columns.
COMPOSITE ORDER one of the five Classical Orders. A Roman elaboration of the Corinthian Order, having the acanthus leaves of its capital combined with the large volutes of the Ionic Order, and other details also elaborated. The column height should be (10) times the diameter.
CONCH (or CONCHA) also known as an apse, a recess in a wall often highly decorated or containing a statue. Often times, it reflects a shell pattern.
CONGE the echinus or quarter-round, and the cavetto. The former is a swelling conge, and the latter is the hollow conge.
CORBEL a block of stone, elaborately carved, projecting from a wall and sometimes supporting a load like the beams of a roof, floor or vault, or sometimes used for decorative effect only. Also: a projecting block supporting a beam or other horizontal element. Today, many corbels are made from wood & plaster.
CORINTHIAN ORDER the most slender and most ornate of the three Greek Orders, characterized by a bell-shaped capital with Volutes and two rows of acanthus elaborate cornice. It is considered one of the most lavish Orders of Architecture. The Corinthian Order was used by both the Greeks and the Romans. The column height should be (10) times the diameter.
CORNICE the decorative molded projecting part at the top of the entablature which also aided in drainage of rainwater.
CORONA the central component of the cornice, having a vertical face and horizontal soffit, often with drip moulding.
COVE a concave moulding often large in scale, like an inverted cavetto, supporting the eaves externally, or raising the ceiling of a room above the cornice.
CUPOLA a small dome, a rounded roof on a circular or polygonal base crowning a roof or turret. Also, a small, often squarish tower on a roof.
CYMA (or CYMATIUM) a moulding in the form of a reverse curve, used as the crowning component of a cornice and elsewhere.
CYMA RECTA a cyma moulding having a concave curve uppermost, with a convex curve below.
CYMA REVERSA a cyma moulding having a convex curve uppermost, with a concave curve below.
DADO the solid block or cube forming the body of a pedestal in Classical architecture, between the base-moldings and cornice: an architectural arrangement of moldings, around the lower part of the walls of a room, resembling a continuous pedestal.
DECASTYLE with ten columns at each façade, e.g.: the temple of Apollo Didymaeus at Miletus.
DECLINATION the angle which the planes of the wall and the soffits of the mutules of the Doric Order make with each other. All true Greek Doric mutules are inclined.
DEMI-COLUMN a column that is applied to a wall. An engaged column as distinct from a pilaster.
DENTILS a regular series of squares or rectangles used to decorate cornices. Teeth-like appearance.
DIASTYLE an arrangement of columns in Grecian and Roman architecture in which the inter-columniation or space between them is equal to three, or according to some, four diameters of the shaft.
DIPTERAL when there are a double row of columns on all sides, e.g.: the Parthenon.
DOME a convex covering over a circular, square, or polygonal space. Domes may be hemispherical, semi-elliptical, pointed or onion-shaped. Also, a large rounded roof or ceiling on a circular or many-sided base, cupola.
DORIC ORDER the column and entablature developed by the Dorian Greeks, sturdy in proportion, with a simple cushion capital. This Order was utilized by both the Greeks & the Romans. The column height should be (8) times the diameter. The Greek Doric column typically has an overall height between (4) - (6-1/2) diameters.
DRESSINGS (1) - the moldings and sculptured decorations of all kinds which are used on the walls and ceilings of a building for the purpose of ornament; (2) - applied to a square opening in the stonework of molding which surround it like a frame, such as a brick building with stone dressings.
DROPLETS the conical shapes of guttae under triglyphs and the mutules of the Doric Order.
EAVES the lower edge of a pitched roof which overhangs the face of a wall. An eaves cornice is therefore a cornice in that position.
ECHINUS the egg-and-anchor, or egg-and-tongue ornament, frequently carved on the ovolo in Classical architecture: the term is also applied to the ovolo molding, but in strictness it belongs to it only when then enriched.
EGG AND DART a typical feature of decoration on cornices. This style showcases egg-like motifs with arrow-like elements, alternating in between each egg shape. Egg & Tongue, and Egg & Anchor are commonly used terms.
EMPIRE a Neoclassical French style associated with Napoleonic times. Roman motifs were used to identify France with Imperial Rome, and Egyptian elements also were utilized.
ENCARPUS a festoon of fruit, flowers, and leaves used to decorate a frieze.
ENGAGED COLUMN columns which are attached to a wall. To be considered "engaged," the column must protrude more than half the column's width / diameter. Other associated terms are: "Applied," "Attached," & "Inserted."
ENTABLATURE the structure which lies horizontally above columns and which is composed of the architrave, frieze and cornice.
ENTAIL elaborate sculptured ornament.
ENTASIS the swelling of a column at its base and center to give the illusion of being perfectly straight.
ESCUTCHEON a shield on which a coat of arms is fixed.
EYE the decorative central disc of an Ionic volute, sometimes enriched with a flower of other motif.
the front face or elevation of a building. (All buildings have a facade though some are decorated more than the rest of the building).
FAME a winged female figure blowing a trumpet, often found in spandrels, as in triumphal arches.
FASCIA a broad fillet, band, or face, used in Classical architecture, sometimes by itself but usually in combination with moldings. Architraves are frequently divided into two or three fasciae, each of which projects slightly beyond that which is below it.
FESTOON a carved ornament in the form of a garland of fruit and flowers, tied with ribbons and suspended at both ends in a loop; commonly used on a frieze or panel also called a swag.
FLUTES the curved vertical channels carved in a column. Columns in the Greek Doric Order have (20) flutes, and the Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite Orders showcases (24) flutes. Typically, columns in the Tuscan Order are not fluted.
FRIEZE the widest and central part of the entablature often richly decorated with relief sculpture.
GARLAND ornaments of flowers, fruits, and leaves - usually found in friezes or similar positions.
GAZEBO a small apartment on a roof with a view - also called a belvedere. A summer house, or any ornamental structure commanding a view.
GLYPH a sunken channel, usually vertical. The perpendicular channels cut in the projecting tablets of a Doric frieze which are called triglyphs from their having three vertical channels, or, more correctly two whole channels with a half-channel at each side of the tablet.
GREEK KEY a labyrinthine fret used in bands, often on string-courses and sometimes on friezes.
GROTESQUE a wall decoration of Roman origin, having human and animal figures interspersed with scrolls and foliage, to form a pattern rather than a pictorial representation.
GROUPED COLUMNS more than two columns grouped together on one pedestal. When only two columns are used, they are called coupled columns.
GUTTAE small ornaments resembling drops, used in the Doric entablature on the under side of the mutules of the cornice, and beneath the taenia of the architrave, under the triglyphs. There are generally (18) of them under the mutules, set in three rows - each row parallel to the front, and (6) under the regula.
HALF COLUMN a column projecting approximately one half its diameter, usually slightly more from a wall.
HARMONY an agreement, balance, or repose between all the parts of a building - having connections with symmetry.
HELIX (pl. HELICES) little spiral ornaments or volutes, 16 in number, in the Corinthian capital - also called urillae, under the abacus. There are two at each angle of the abacus, and two in the center of each face - branching form the caulicoli, or stalks, that rise between the acanthus leaves. Vitruvius called the inner spirals only helices, calling the outer spirals a the corners volutae - which is also his term for the volutes of the Ionic capital.
HEM the spiral protruberant part of an Ionic capital.
HEXASTYLE with six columns at each façade, e.g. the Maison Carré at Nimes.
HIPPOCAMP a creature with the head and forelegs of a horse, and the tail of a fish.
HUSK a stylized, bud-like ornament - usually found in a string, margent, or festoon.
HYPOSTYLE a covered colonnade: a hall with many columns.
HYPOTRACHELION in the Doric order, the horizontal grooves at the junction of the lowest part of the capital – the trachelion – and the top of the column shaft.
INTERCOLUMNIATION the distance between columns measured from the lower parts of the shafts in multiples of the diameter of the column. Greek Doric intercolumniation was generally that of the monotriglyph (i.e. having one triglyph between two columns).
INTERDENTILS spaces between dentils: in Roman work, the dentils are set closer together than in Greek work.
INTERPILASTERS the space between pilasters.
IONIC ORDER the Classical order of architecture, originated by the Ionian Greeks, characterized by its capital with large volutes, a fascinated entablature, continuous frieze, usually dentils in the cornice, and by its elegant detailing, less heavy than the Doric, less elaborate than the Corinthian. The Ionic Order is the second of the Orders used by the Greeks, and the third used by the Romans. The column shaft is generally fluted, with fillets between the flutes. The column height should be (9) times the diameter.
JAMB the side of a window, door, chimney which bears the weight of the wall.
JOISTS the horizontal timbers in a floor, on which the flooring is laid: also the small timbers which sustain a ceiling.
KEYSTONE the central, topmost stone of an arch. It locks in the voussoirs before the centering scaffolding can be removed.
KNULLING a very flat bead-and-reel molding.
LAMBS TONGUE (1) - the end of a handrail which is turned out or down from the rail and curved so as to resemble a tongue. (2) - a cut moldings, usually two ovolos separated by a fillet and set off by fillets at the other ends.
MANSARD ROOF a roof having two slopes on each of its four sides; the lower slope is steeper than the upper.Mansard roofs have dormers in them so that a usable third floor is created as opposed to an attic.
MANTEL a decorative shelf, or horizontal beam over a fireplace. The mantelpiece is carried on the jambs of the chimney space.
MEDALLION a square, elliptical, circular, or oval tablet on which are figures, designs, or busts - usually carved in relief. Today's medallions can be made in a variety of materials, such as Plaster, Wood, Urethane, and more!
METOPE a square space in the frieze between two triglyphs, often filled with relief sculpture or ornaments such as shields. Prevalent with the Doric Order.
MITRE the line formed by the meeting of moldings or other surfaces, which intersect or intercept each other at an angle.
MODILLION Greek classical feature of large rectangular shapes closely placedbeneath the cornice, that are similar to a bracket in use, although modillions are purely ornamental as they formalize the look of beams protruding from beneath the roof of a early wood-framed building.
MODULE a measure of proportion by which the parts of an order or of a building are regulated in Classical architecture; it has been generally considered as the diameter, or semi-diameter, of the lower end of the shaft of the column.
MOLD the model or pattern used by workmen, especially by masons, as a guide in working moldings, ornaments, and other architectural products.
MOLDING a member of construction or decoration so treated as to introduce varieties of outline or contour in edges or surfaces, whether on projections or cavities, as on cornices, capitals, bases, etc.
MONOLITHIC COLUMN a column carved from a single piece of stone.
MOUCHETTE a teardrop-shaped Gothic tracery design.
MULLION a vertical bar on a window, door, and shutters that divide and support the panes or panels.
MUTULE a projecting block worked under the corona of the Doric cornice, in the same situation as the modillions in the Corinthian & Composite Orders. It is often made to slope downward towards the most prominent part, and has usually a number of small guttae, or drops, worked on the underside.
NECK in the Classical Orders, the space between the bottom of the capital and the top of the shaft, which is marked by a sinkage or a ring of moldings.
NEWEL the end post of a balustrade; an ornamented post at the top, bottom, or landing of a stairway that supports the handrail.
NEWEL CAP the cap is on the top of the newel.
NICHE a recess in a wall for a statue, vase, or other erect ornament. Among the ancients they were sometimes square, but more often semi-circular at the back, and terminated in a half-dome at the top.
OCTASTYLE with eight columns at each façade, e.g.: the temple of Bacchus at Baalbek.
OCULUS a circular opening / a round window.
OGEE an S-shaped double curve, one convex and the other concave. The cyma molding.
ORDER in Classical Architecture, an entire column, consisting of base, shaft, and capital, with an entablature. There are usually said to be five orders: the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite; but the first and last, sometimes called 'the two Roman Orders,' are little more than varieties of the Doric and Corinthian, and were not used by the Greeks.
ORNAMENT in architecture, every detail of shape, texture, and color that is deliberately exploited or added to attract an observer.
OVOLO a convex molding much used in Classical architecture; in the Roman examples it is usually an exact quarter of a circle, but in the Grecian it is flatter, and is most commonly quirked at the top.
PALAZZO an Italian palace, or any large extravagant building of a similar style.
PALLADIAN a style of architecture that evolved from the work of the sixteenth-century architect, Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), and was brought to Britain in publications. A revival of the style in the eighteenth century occurred in the area around Venice, but achieved considerable success in Britain largely through the efforts of Lord Burlington (1694-1753) & Colven Campbell (1676-1729).
a stylized palm leaf shape used as a decorative element in classical art and architecture. Take a look at some of Brockwell Incorporated's Palmette Molding designs.
PANEL any flat, rigid support prepared with a ground for painting on, can be recessed or protruding (raised).
PANEL MOLDING panels are usually held in place within a framework by means of molded beads. These moldings can be of various types, including: bead, flush, or bolection - while panels can be carved, raised and fielded, or have other decorations.
PANIER an upright corbel over a pilaster and under a truss.
PATERA a circular ornament resembling a dish, often worked in relief on friezes in Classical Architecture; the term has also come to be applied to a variety of flat ornaments used in all styles of architecture. When further embellished to become a stylized representative of a flower, it is called a rosette.
PEDESTAL the block on which stands a column or statue, composed of the plinth, torus, dado and fascia.
PEDIMENT the triangular space above the entablature at the short sides of a temple. Often richly decorated with sculpture in the round.
PENDANT a decorative piece (made of masonry or turned wood) suspended from a roof or vergeboard: used especially in Gothic architecture.
PERGOLA a covered walk in a garden featured by open space above with latticework. Regularly spaced with columns.
PERIPTERAL when all four external sides have columns.
PERISTYLE the rows of columns which surround a temple or courtyard.
PIEDROIT a pilaster with no base or capital, also known as a lesene, and often found in Neoclassical work.
PIER solid masonry supports with no base or capital; Romanesque and Gothic pillars; the solid support between openings in buildings.
PILASTER an ornamental column carved in relief on a wall surface. Has a square shaft that projects from the wall and is 1/2 or less the width of the column.
PILLAR a square post. It is distinct from a column.
PINEAPPLE a symbol of hospitality. Like the pinecone, acorn, and ball - a common form for a finial is atop a gate.
PITCH the angle between the slope of a roof or pediment and the horizontal.
PLINTH the square section that comes below the base of a column.
POLYSTYLE with many columns.
POMMEL the ornament on top of a pinnacle, finial, etc. Any globular ornament.
PORTICO a space for walking, usually columned, e.g.: at the front of a temple.
PRAIRIE HOUSE a house style associated predominantly with the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the design was influenced by the open prairie of mid-western American. The houses featured open plans with a low, horizontal emphasis.
PROFILE the vertical section, especially of a molding.
PRONAOS the space between the outer columns and cella entrance in a temple.
PROPORTION the just magnitude of each part, and of each part to another; the relationship existing between parts or elements that should render the whole harmonious in terms of balance, symmetry, and repose.
PROSTYLE a temple with columns only at the front façade.
PTERA the colonnade around the cell of a Greek temple.
PURLINS the horizontal pieces of timber which rest on the principals, or main rafters, of a roof, and support the common rafters. In some districts purlins are called ribs, and rafters spars. Purlins are a common component of pergolas.
QUADRA a square border or frame. The fillets of the Ionic base on the top and bottom of the scotia. The plinth or lowest member of apodium.
QUATREFOIL four-leafed Gothic design found in tracery.
QUOIN cornerstone of a building, rising the entire height of the wall, and distinguished from the main construction material by size, texture, or conspicuous joining. In masonry construction, they reinforce the corners,; in wood construction, they do not bear any load, are made of wood and imitate the effect of stone or brick.
RAFTERS inclined timbers which form the side of a roof, to which the roof covering is attached.
RAISED PANEL panels having a raised area in the center, connected with the plane of the panel by a moulding or a swept section.
RECESSED PANEL panels having a recessed area in the center, connected with the plane of the panel by a moulding or a swept section.
REEDED a convex molding that runs the full length of the shaft; the reverse of fluting.
REGLET a flat, narrow molding.
REGULA a band below the taenia and above the guttae in a Doric entablature.
RELIEF the projection of any sculpture or ornament from its background.
RESPOND anta, corbel, or element where an arcade or colonnade engages with a wall.
RETURN the continuation of a molding or projection in an opposite or different direction, with a terminating feature. The part that returns, usually at a right angle, from the front of a building.
RINCEAU a continuous wave of foliate ornament - often a vine - on a band.
ROCOCO a style where buildings were whimsical, playful, full of fantasy, and more lighthearted that the typical Baroque buildings.
ROSETTE a kind of rose was sometimes used as an ornament on the face of the abacus on Corinthian capitals. It is also used as a decorative ornament on a variety of surfaces with the purpose of adding an ornate touch.
RUNNING DOG Greek ornamental design to look like a course of waves. Also called Vitruvian Wave.
RUSTICATION masonry characterized by smooth or roughly textures block faces, and strongly emphasized recessed joint.
SATYR a creature with goat-like legs and hoofs, a human male torso and face, and horns. It represents fecundity, lust, and unbridled nature.
SCONCE an electric lamp, resembling a candlestick or a group of candlesticks, which is designed and fabricated for mounting on a wall.
SCOTIA a concave molding, usually found at the base of a column or a pilaster between the fillets of the torus moldings.
SCROLL a name given to a numerous class of ornaments, which in general character resemble a band arranged in undulations or convolutions. A scroll is also another term for the volute of an Ionic, Corinthian, or Composite capital.
SHAFT the portion of a column or pilaster between the base and the capital.
SIMA the gutter which collected rainwater from the roof of a temple, often containing decorative spouts at regular intervals.
SOFFIT exposed underpart of an arch, architrave, or overhanging cornice.
SPANDREL space between an arched opening and the rectangle formed by the outer moldings above and to one side - often filled with painted decoration.
SPHINX a recumbent lion, sometimes winged, with a human head.
STALK an ornament in the Corinthian capital from which volutes and helices spring.
STAVE one of the number of narrow boards used to build up a column or pillar.
STYLOBATE the foundation on which a row of columns stand. Often slightly curved to aid drainage.
SUNBURST an Eastlake decorative element shaped like a sun with radiating rays; often only a semi or quarter circle of the motif is used.
SUPERIMPOSED when the Orders are used to define the stories of a classical façade and set one above the other. They have a hierarchical order: Doric is used at the bottom (being tough, primitive, and masculine). Ionic is above the Doric; and Corinthian is above the Ionic. In taller buildings, the Tuscan is used first, then the Roman Doric, the the Ionic, then the Corinthian, and then the Composite.
SWAG a decoration resembling a garland of fruit, flower, or leaves draped between two points; a festoon.
SWANS NECK a pediment with an open apex; each side terminates in curves resembling a swan’s neck.
SYMMETRY uniformity or balance of one part of a building and another. Equal disposition of parts and the masses on either side of a center line, as a mirror-image.
TAENIA the fillet or band at the top of a Doric architrave, separating it from the frieze.
TAPER a gradual diminution of thickness in a column.
TEMPLATE a pattern or mold used by workmen, especially by masons and bricklayers as a guide for the shape of their work. It is usually formed of a thin board, or sheet of metal.
TETRASTYLE with four columns at each façade.
TORCH when turned upside down, this symbol that is usually placed on funerary monuments and often held by a putto, represents death (the extinguishing of the flame). Upright torches are often associated with candelabra, and occur as decorative motifs in Neoclassical Architecture. The upright torch also symbolizes life, truth, hope & enlightenment.
TORUS a bold projecting molding, convex in shape, generally forming the lowest member of a base over the plinth.
TRACERY elaborate ornamental pattern-work in stone subdividing the upper part of a Gothic window. Today, traceries are often seen as a plaster material, and used for ceiling decorations.
TRACHELIUM Greek word for "neck." In architecture, it is the name referring to the neck of the capitals in both the Doric & Ionic orders. In the Greek Doric capital, it is the space between the annulets of the echinus and the grooves which mark the junction of the shaft and capital. In the Roman Doric and the Ionic orders, the term is given by modern writers to the interval between the lowest moulding of the capital and the top of the astragal and fillet, which were termed the hypotrachelium.
TRANSOM a horizontal glazed opening above a door or window.
TREFOIL three-leafed as in Gothic tracery design.
TRELLIS a frame of thin bars of wood used as a screen or on which plants may climb. The structure is cross-barred or lattice-work.
TRIGLYPH a decorative element of a frieze with two vertical grooves. Often used in alteration with metopes.
TRIUMPHAL COLUMN a large, single column on a pedestal, erected as a public monument. The most celebrated example is that of Trajan (second century AD) with its spiral bands of sculpture and its massive base that contained the tomb-chamber of the Emperor.
TUSCAN ORDER a simplified version of the Roman Doric Order, having a plain frieze and no mutules in the cornice. The Tuscan Order is considered to be the simplest of the five Orders of Classical Architecture. Classically, the shaft of the column is never fluted, and the capital has a square abacus. The base consists of a square plinth and a large torus. The column height should be (7) times the diameter.
TRUMEAU a center post supporting the lintel that spans the width of an arch in a Romanesque portal ensemble.
TYMPANUM the area within a pediment, often decorated with scroll sawn ornaments, scalloped siding or sculpted figures as in Greek and Roman buildings.
URN large ornamental bulbous containers often containing floral arrangements that became a decorative end piece on roofs and newel posts in classical Greek architecture.
VELLAR CUPOLA a dome over staircases or salons, that is, over any compartment that is more than one story high. Also known as a sail dome.
VICTORIAN this style represents a break with the classical restrictions of proportion and order. The Victorian era was a time of “free expression” in architecture. On Victorian buildings you often see a loose interpretive style of Italian Renaissance design that is sometimes called “free classical”. Buildings were highly detailed and were built during the reign of Queen Victoria of England, hence the name “Victorian”).
VIGNETTE a running ornament consisting of leaves and tendrils, such as is frequently carved in the hollow moldings in Gothic architecture, especially in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles; also called ‘Trail.’
VIGNOLA Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola. He was an Italian architect in the 16th century who helped form the canons of classical architecture. He additionally helped create the system of columns being classified within the (5) Classical Orders of Architecture.
VILLA a house in the country, often large and luxurious.
VITRUVIAN SCROLL a peculiar pattern of scroll-work, consisting of convolved undulations, used in Classical architecture. The name given after the great architectural writer Vitruvius. It is essentially a series of stylized waves. Also called a Running Dog.
VITRUVIUS Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. He was a Roman author and architect during the 1st century BC, who significantly contributed to classical architecture with his multi-volume book, De architectura.
VOLUTES the scrolls of an Ionic capital, and also seen in the Corinthian & Composite Orders. The spiral elements of the capital.
WAINSCOT this term originally seems to have implied rough planks of oak timber, and subsequently to have been given to wooden paneling, to which they were converted for lining the inner walls of houses and churches. It was extensively employed during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I, and for a long period afterwards. The name has long ceased to be confined to oak paneling. It is also called Seeling-work.
WEATHERING an inclination given to horizontal surfaces to throw off water.
WREATH a twisted band, garland, or chaplet, representing flowers, fruits, leaves, etc. - often used as decorative elements.
Prevalent in Classical Greek & Roman eras, the wreath held several symbolic meanings, including: Victory, Strength, Eternity, and Remembrance.
WROUGHT IRON a tough, malleable, relatively soft iron that is readily forged and welded, having a fibrous structure containing approximately 0.2% carbon and a small amount of uniformly distributed slag.
YARD a paved area, generally at the rear of a house. An enclosed utilitarian area surround by walls or outbuildings.
ZIGGURATS platforms with the temple of the local god on them - shops, houses clustered around them. Found in Mesopotamia, built by the Sumerians.
ZOPHORUS a frieze decorated with reliefs featuring animals.
BIBLIOGRAPHY & CITED WORKS:
Curl, James Stevens. Classical architecture: an introduction to its vocabulary and essentials, with a select glossary of terms. London: Batsford, 2001.
Harris, Cyril M. Illustrated dictionary of historic architecture. New York: Dover Publications, 19831977. Print. Mark Cartwright. “A Visual Glossary of Classical Architecture,” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 10, 2013. http://www.ancient.eu /article/486/.
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