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List of definitions of terms and concepts used in architecture
Vaulted semicircular or polygonal end of a chancel or chapel. That portion of a church, usually Christian, beyond the "crossing" and opposite the nave. In some churches, the choir is seated in this space.
A small moulded shaft, square or circular, in stone or wood, sometimes metal, supporting the coping of a parapet or the handrail of a staircase. A series of balusters supporting a handrail or coping is called a balustrade.
A structural member of inadequate capacity for its load or span that is augmented by one or two steel bars anchored to each bearing end at or above the centroid of the girder to assume the tension forces. The bar(s) runs down and below the girder and stand off the girder on one or more struts anchored to the girder at its bottom surface. The struts are sized to accept the compressive forces imposed without bending. The load limit to this member is the crippling capacity (horizontal failure) of the girder.
Originally a Roman, large roofed hall erected for transacting business and disposing of legal matters.; later the term came to describe an aisled building with a clerestory. Medieval cathedral plans were a development of the basilica plan type.
Internal compartments of a building; each divided from the other by subtle means such as the boundaries implied by divisions marked in the side walls (columns, pilasters, etc.) or the ceiling (beams, etc.). Also external divisions of a building by fenestration (windows).
Window of one or more storeys projecting from the face of a building. Canted: with a straight front and angled sides. Bow window: curved. Oriel: rests on corbels or brackets and starts above ground level; also the bay window at the dais end of a medieval great hall.
Uncut stone that is laid in place in a building, projecting outward from the building, to later be carved into decorative moldings, capitals, arms, etc. Bossages are also rustic work, consisting of stones which seem to advance beyond the surface of the building, by reason of indentures, or channels left in the joinings; used chiefly in the corners of buildings, and called rustic quoins. The cavity or indenture may be round, square, chamfered, beveled, diamond-shaped, or enclosed with a cavetto or listel.
Type of support. An arc-boutant, or flying buttress, serves to sustain a vault, and is self-sustained by some strong wall or massive work. A pillar boutant is a large chain or jamb of stone, made to support a wall, terrace, or vault. The word is French, and comes from the verb bouter, "to butt" or "abut".
Vertical member projecting from a wall to stabilize it or to resist the lateral thrust of an arch, roof, or vault. A flying buttress transmits the thrust to a heavy abutment by means of an arch or half-arch.
(plural: Cancelli) Barriers which correspond to the modern balustrade or railing, especially the screen dividing the body of a church from the part occupied by the ministers hence chancel. The Romans employed cancelli to partition off portions of the courts of law.
The inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture.
In Roman architecture, the vestibule or portico of a public building opening on to the forum, as in the basilica of Eumachia at Pompeii, and the basilica of Constantine at Rome, where it was placed at one end. See: Lacunar.
Style which became prevalent in Italy in the century following 1500, now usually called 16th-century work. It was the result of the revival of classic architecture known as Renaissance, but the change had commenced already a century earlier, in the works of Ghiberti and Donatello in sculpture, and of Brunelleschi and Alberti in architecture.
(plural: cippi) A low, round or rectangular pedestal set up by the Romans for military purposes such as a milestone or a boundary post. The inscriptions on some cippi in the British Museum show that they were occasionally used as funeral memorials.
One of the three orders or organisational systems of Ancient Greek or classical architecture characterised by columns which stood on the flat pavement of a temple with a base, their vertical shafts fluted with parallel concave grooves topped by a capital decorated with acanthus leaves, that flared from the column to meet an abacus with concave sides at the intersection with the horizontal beam that they carried.
Concealed or covered passage, generally underground, though lighted and ventilated from the open air. One of the best-known examples is the crypto-porticus under the palaces of the Caesars in Rome. In Hadrians villa in Rome they formed the principal private intercommunication between the several buildings.
A wedge-shaped division of the Roman theatre separated by the scalae or stairways. This shape also occurred in medieval architecture.
Peristyle round the great court of the palaestra, described by Vitruvius, which measured two stadia (1,200 ft.) in length, on the south side this peristyle had two rows of columns, so that in stormy weather the rain might not be driven into the inner part. The word was also used in ancient Greece for a foot race of twice the usual length.
A horizontal aisle in an ancient Greek theater that separates the lower and upper tiers of semi-circular seating and intersects with the vertical aisles.
One of the three orders or organisational systems of Ancient Greek or classical architecture characterised by columns which stood on the flat pavement of a temple without a base, their vertical shafts fluted with parallel concave grooves topped by a smooth capital that flared from the column to meet a square abacus at the intersection with the horizontal beam that they carried.
A structural element of a building that protrudes from the plane of a sloping roof surface. Dormers are used, either in original construction or as later additions, to create usable space in the roof of a building by adding headroom and usually also by enabling addition of windows.
Cubical block of stone above the capitals in a Byzantine church, used to carry the arches and vault, the springing of which had a superficial area greatly in excess of the column which carried them.
A plan for a structure that is two rooms deep but lacking a central corridor.
Entrance passage or avenue leading to a building, tomb or passageway. Those leading to beehive tombs are enclosed between stone walls and sometimes in-filled between successive uses of the tomb. In ancient Egypt the dromos was a straight, paved avenue flanked by sphinxes.
The application of a convex curve to a surface for aesthetic purposes. Its best-known use is in certain orders of Classical columns that curve slightly as their diameter is decreased from the bottom upward. It also may serve an engineering function regarding strength.
(Ancient Greek: ephebion) Large hall in the ancient Palaestra furnished with seats, the length of which should be a third larger than the width. It served for the exercises of youths of from sixteen to eighteen years of age.
Open vestibule behind the nave. The term is not found in any classic author, but is a modern coinage, originating in Germany, to differentiate the feature from the opisthodomos, which in the Parthenon was an enclosed chamber.
French term for a raised platform or dais. In the Levant, the estrade of a divan is called a Sopha, from which comes our word 'sofa'.
The decorative combination on the same flat plane of flint and ashlar stone. It is characteristic of medieval buildings, most of the survivors churches, in several areas of Southern England, but especially East Anglia. If the stone projects from a flat flint wall, the term is proudwork - as the stone stands "proud" rather than being "flush" with the wall.
A type of buttress that transmits the thrust to a heavy abutment by means of a half-arch.
An exposed structural beam over the uppermost part of a building which is not otherwise connected to the building at its highest point. A feature of H frame constructed concrete buildings and some modern skyscrapers.
An architectural device based on a symmetrical rendering of leaf shapes, defined by overlapping circles of the same diameter that produce a series of cusps to make a lobe. Typically, the number of cusps can be three (trefoil), four (quatrefoil), five (cinquefoil), or a larger number.
The area on a plane directly beneath a structure, that has the same perimeter as the structure.
The lower part of a pier in architecture. (A literal translation of "pedestal.")
French term for the wall-rib carrying the web or filling-in of a vault.
A triangular portion of an end wall between the edges of a sloping roof.
Triangular terminations to buttresses, much in use in the Early English and Decorated periods, after which the buttresses generally terminated in pinnacles. The Early English gablets are generally plain, and very sharp in pitch. In the Decorated period they are often enriched with paneling and crockets. They are sometimes finished with small crosses, but more often with finials.
(Greek: - often interchangeable with cornice) the part of the entablature that projects outward from the top of the frieze in the Doric order and from the top of the frieze course of the Ionic and Corinthian orders; it forms the outer edge of the roof on the sides of a structure with a sloped roof.
A structure formed of straight wood or metal members between points (or nodes) on a circular sphere (or part thereof) that are "pinned" at each connection point to two or more other members that transfer loads imposed on the structure to the base of the structure. The geometric areas between individual members may support a "skin" if the structure is to be enclosed. A "regular" geodesic structure have members of equal length but strengths of members may vary depending on location in the geodesic "grid".
A row of small figures along the unions of the roofs of Chinese official buildings.
A scheme of decoration employed in Romanesque and Gothic architecture, where arches are thrown from alternate piers, interlacing or intersecting one another. In the former case, the first arch mould is carried alternately over and under the second, in the latter the mouldings actually intersect and stop one another.
One of the three orders or organisational systems of Ancient Greek or classical architecture characterised by columns which stood on the flat pavement of a temple with a base, their vertical shafts fluted with parallel concave grooves topped by a capital with volutes, that flared from the column to meet a rectangular abacus with carved ovolo moulding, at the intersection with the horizontal beam that they carried.
A conductive bar(s) of copper or zinc coated steel mounted on the ridge or a roof or on the parapet of a building connected to a large capacity conductor, usually copper, routed to a ground rod(s) driven into the earth for the purpose of safely directing electrical charges caused by a lightning strike to the ground to avoid damage or fire to the structure.
(French roof) A curb hip roof in which each face has two slopes, the lower one steeper than the upper; from the French mansarde after the accomplished 17th-century French architect noted for using (not inventing) this style, François Mansart, died 1666.
Enriched block or horizontal bracket generally found under the cornice and above the bedmold of the Corinthian entablature. It is probably so called because of its arrangement in regulated distances.
Interval of the intercolumniation of the Doric column, which is observed by the intervention of one triglyph only between the triglyphs which come over the axes of the columns. This is the usual arrangement, but in the Propylaea at Athens there are two triglyphs over the central intercolumniation, in order to give increased width to the roadway, up which chariots and beasts of sacrifice ascended.
Type of decorative corbel used in Islamic architecture that in some circumstances, resembles stalactites.
Rectangular block under the soffit of the cornice of the Greek Doric temple, which is studded with guttae. It is supposed to represent the piece of timber through which the wooden pegs were driven in order to hold the rafter in position, and it follows the sloping rake of the roof. In the Roman Doric order the mutule was horizontal, with sometimes a crowning fillet, so that it virtually fulfilled the purpose of the modillion in the Corinthian cornice.
The central supporting pillar of a spiral staircase. It can also refer to an upright post that supports the handrail of a stair railing and forms the lower, upper or an intermediate terminus of a stair railing usually at a landing.
A circular opening in the center of a dome such as the one in the roof of the Pantheon in Rome or in a wall.
Arrow slits in the walls of medieval fortifications, but more strictly applied to the round hole or circle with which the openings terminate. The same term is applied to the small circles inserted in the tracery-head of the windows of the Decorated and Perpendicular periods, sometimes varied with trefoils and quatrefoils.
(Greek, standing upright) - Greek architecture term for the lowest course of masonry of the external walls of the naos or cella, consisting of vertical slabs of stone or marble equal in height to two or three of the horizontal courses which constitute the inner part of the wall.
(Greek?, straight, and , a column) - a range of columns placed in a straight row, as for instance those of the portico or flanks of a classic temple.
Is a millwork wall covering constructed from rigid or semi-rigid components. These are traditionally interlocking wood, but could be plastic or other materials.
Panelling was developed in antiquity to make rooms in stone buildings more comfortable. The panels served to insulate the room from the cold stone. In more modern buildings, such panelling is often installed for decorative purposes. Panelling, such as wainscoting and boiserie in particular, may be extremely ornate and is particularly associated with seventeenth and eighteenth century interior design, Victorian architecture in Britain, and its international contemporaries.
(Gr. , Lat. fastigium, Fr. ponton), in classic architecture the triangular-shaped portion of the wall above the cornice which formed the termination of the roof behind it. The projecting mouldings of the cornice which surround it enclose the tympanum, which is sometimes decorated with sculpture.
A temple or other structure surrounded on all sides by columns forming a continuous portico at the distance of one or two intercolumniations from the walls of the naos or cella. Almost all the Greek temples were peripteral, whether Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian.
The Peristasis (Greek) was a four-sided porch or hall of columns surrounding the cella in an ancient Greek peripteros temple (see also Peristyle). In ecclesial architecture, it is also used of the area between the baluster of a Catholic church and the high altar (what is usually called the sanctuary or chancel).
A steel girder formed from a vertical center web of steel plate with steel angles forming the top and bottom flanges welded, bolted or riveted to the web. Some deep plate girders also may have vertical stiffeners (angles) attached to the web to resist crippling (horizontal failure) of the web.
The base or platform upon which a column, pedestal, statue, monument or structure rests. A plinth is a lower terminus of the face trim on a door that is thicker and often wider than the trim which it augments
Finials or other ornaments which terminate the tops of bench ends, either to pews or stalls. They are sometimes small human heads, sometimes richly carved images, knots of foliage or finials, and sometimes fleurs-de-lis simply cut out of the thickness of the bench end and chamfered. The term is probably derived from the French poupee doll or puppet used also in this sense, or from the flower, from a resemblance in shape.
A porch- or portico-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building through which a horse and carriage (or motor vehicle) can pass in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather.
Temple similar to a dipteral temple, in which the columns surrounding the naos have had walls built between them, so that they become engaged columns, as in the great temple at Agrigentum. In Roman temples, in order to increase the size of the celia, the columns on either side and at the rear became engaged columns, the portico only having isolated columns.
In Classical architecture, the enclosed space of a portico, peristyle, or stoa, generally behind a screen of columns.
Term given by Vitruvius to the intercolumniation between the columns of a temple, when this was equal to one and a half diameters.
The diagonal outside facing edge of a gable, sometimes called a raking cornice or a sloping cornice. Rake is equivalent to slope which is the ratio of the rise to the run of the roof.
Vault of the internal hood of a doorway or window to which a splay has been given on the reveal, sometimes the vaulting surface is terminated by a small rib known as the scoinson rib, and a further development is given by angle shafts carrying this rib, known as scoinson shafts.
Receding edge of a flat face. On a flat signboard, for example, the return is the edge which makes up the board's depth.
An entrance door for excluding drafts from an interior of a building. A revolving door typically consists of three or four doors that hang on a center shaft and rotate around a vertical axis within a round enclosure.
The structure that tops a pyramid in monumental Mesoamerican architecture (also common as a decorative embellishment on the ridge of metal roofs of some domestic Gothic-style architecture in America in the 19th century).
The horizontal and vertical frame that encloses the glazing of a window. A sash may be fixed or operable and may be of several different types depending on operation (i.e. casement, single or double hung, awning, hopper or sliding).
Girder or main "summer beam" of a floor: if supported on two storey posts and open below, also called a "bress" or "breast-summer". Often found at the centerline of the house to support one end of a joist, and to bear the weight of the structure above.
A structural component made of straight wood or metal members, usually in a triangular pattern, with "pinned" connections at the top and bottom chords and which is used to support structural loads, as those on a floor, roof or bridge.
A rectilinear truss usually fabricated of steel or concrete with horizontal top and bottom chords and vertical web members (no diagonals) in which the loads imposed on it are transferred to the supports through bending forces resisted in its connections.
^Richard Taylor, AIA (10 April 2007). "Q & A about "heifunon."". All Experts, owned by About.com. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Question: In the film At First Sight the word "heifunon" was mentioned as a supposed architectural term... Is there really such a word? I can find nothing with that spelling. Answer: My guess is that they're talking about a "hyphen" ... a connecting piece between two larger masses of a building. It is most commonly used when referring to Colonial-era houses - especially the Georgian style. Take a look at the photo [of the James Brice house] at the top of this page. The hyphens are clearly visible on either side of the main house block. The masses connected to the main house by the hyphens are called dependencies.