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Architectural Terms

Architectural Terms and their definitions

Abacus A slab forming the upper part of a capital.
Agora The Greek market place or meeting place.
Arcade A row of arches supported by columns.
Arch In architecture, a curved or pointed opening that spans a doorway, window or other space.
Baroque Architectural style of the 1600s and 1700s characterized by the flamboyant use of classical forms.
Bauhaus A school of arts and architrecture founded in Germany by architect Walter Gropius in 1919.
Buttress A Profecting support built into or against the exterior of a masonry wall to give added strength. A flying one is freestanding with a half arch transferring the thrust from the wall.
Cantilever A projecting bracket used primarily to carry the weight of a cornice or the protruding eaves of a building.
Capital The top part of a column supporting the entablature.
Cloister A covered walk surrounding a court, traditionally linking a church to monastery buildings.
Column An upright, often decorative pillar consisting of a shaft and a crown known as a capital.
Cornice The top, projecting section of an entablature, supporting a roof.
Eaves The lower edges of a sloping roof, projecting beyond the face of a wall.
Entablature The part of a classical building between the top of a colonnade adn the roof, consisting of architrave, friece, and cornice.
Frieze A decorative band atop an interior wall below the cornice. The middle section of an entablature.
Gable The triangular upper part of a wall at the end of a roof which has two sloping sides.
Gargoyle A spout projecting from a rain gutter to carry water down and away from a building. Gothic ones are known for their grotesque or monstrous images.
Geodesic Dome A strong, light dome constructed on a framework of triangular elements. Invented by architect Buckminster Fuller.
Gothic The dominant architectural style in Western Europe from around 1250 to 1550. Characterized by fine masonry and woodworking, pointed arches, and exterior flying buttresses.
Jamb The Side of a door or window.
Minaret A high tower, part of a mosque, with a balcony from which a muezzin calls Moslems to prayer.
Nave The principal interior section of a church, extending from the main entrance down the main aisle to the sanctuary and flanked by the aisles.
Ogee A double curve that resembles teh letter "S," formed by a joining a concave and convex line.
Orders In classical Greco-Roman architecture, a reference to the principal styles of columns with their bases, capitals, and entablatures. The three Greek ones are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The two Roman ones are the Composite and Tuscan
Composite Order Roman order column incorporating the scroll-shaped capital of the Ionic column with the ornate acanthus-leafs carving that distinguished the Corinthian capital.
Tuscan Order A Roman order modeled after the Greek Doric, but even simpler, having no flutes.
Doric Order The oldest and sturdiest of the orders. The columns are massive, fluted, and simple with a plain capital.
Ionic Order A fluted column, more slender than Doric easily distinguished by its scroll-shaped capital.
Corinthian Order The most slender and ornate of the three Greek columns. Known for its decorative capital of delicately carved acanthus leaves.
Rotunda A circular building, usually domed.
Stucco A textured exterior plaster finish consisting of cement, lime, sand, and water.
Ziggurat Pyramid-shaped, tiered tower used in Mesopotamia to support a temple.
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