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Abacus: Flat top of the capital of a column.

Apse: A half-circular space located at the end of a basilica. The apse usually has raised (also known as vaulted) ceilings.

Architrave: In classical architecture, the beam which rests across the top of the columns; it forms the lowest part of the entablature.

Basilica: A Latin word that originally described a public building in ancient Rome. When Christianity was introduced to Rome, the basilica became a place of worship, or a church. It is very large and is the most important place of worship in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Bauhaus: A German artistic style founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius. This style is known for its simplicity, functionalism, and craftsmanship.

Bay: Compartment or unit of division of an interior or of a façade (the face of a building) – usually between one window or pillar and the next.

Belvedere: Coming from the Italian word meaning “beautiful view,” it means a tower or building, which is not part of the house and was designed to provide views of the garden.

Boss: Projection, usually carved, at the intersection of stone ribs of Gothic vaults and ceilings.

Brutalist: A kind of modern architectural style that developed in the 1960s. Stylistic features range from block-like geometric forms to organic and sculptural looking forms. Such buildings are made of poured concrete, as well as brick, glass, steel, rough-hewn stone, and gabion.

Buttress: Vertical mass of brickwork or stonework (also known as masonry) built against a wall to strengthen it and to resist the outward pressure of a vault.

Capital: Crowning feature of a column, usually carved.

Caryatid: Sculptured female figure serving as a supporting column.

Classical: An artistic tradition derived from Greek and Roman antiquity that has qualities of simplicity, harmony, and balance.

Column: An upright cylinder-shaped post. It can be decorated and have the practical function of holding up a part of a building.

Cornice: Projecting upper part of the entablature in classical architecture.

Dado: Lower part of an interior wall that has wood panels or is painted differently from the main part of the room.

Dome: Round-shaped roof.

Drum: The dome is supported by the drum, which stands vertically and is in the shape of a cylinder.

Entablature: In classical architecture, this refers to the beam-like division above the columns; within it is found the architrave, frieze, and cornice.

Façade: The important face of a building, it usually describes the front.

Fleche: Slender wooden spire rising from a roof. The word is French for “arrow.”

Flying buttress: Arch conveying the thrust of a vault toward an isolated buttress.

Folly: A decorative or fancy building that does not have a function because it serves as decoration. Follies are often found in formal English gardens.

Frieze: A large piece of stone that has a picture carved on it. In classical architecture, the frieze is located on the entablature, which is between the architrave and cornice.

Gabion: A hollow metal cylinder used for constructing dams and foundations.

Keystone: Central, wedge-shaped stone of an arch, called keystone because the arch cannot stand up until the keystone is in position.

Lancet window: Window with a single, sharply pointed arch. The style is associated with the early English period of Gothic architecture, around the 13 th century.

Masonry: Stonework or brickwork.

Mezzanine: Lower storey of a building located between two higher ones; it usually includes the ground and first floors.

Order: Basic element of classical and Renaissance architecture; it is made up of the base, column, capital, and entablature.

Oriel: Bay window on an upper floor, supported by projecting stonework.

Pediment: In classical architecture it refers to the triangular area over the front entrance and it is usually decorated with carvings.

Pier: Vertical stack of bricks that supports a wall.

Pilaster: Upright square support beams common in buildings from India

Podium: A platform or base of a building .

Portico: Refers to a porch or walkway covered with a roof; it often leads to the entrance of a building.

Post and Lintel: The first and most basic form of construction. It consists of two posts, which are vertical standing columns, and a lintel, which is a horizontal column that rests across the top of the posts.

Renaissance: An Italian style of architecture developed in the 1400s and 1500s. Renaissance architectural qualities include simplicity, symmetry, and mathematical balance between structures.

Rustication: Heavy stonework that has a rough-looking surface; it is most commonly found in Renaissance architecture.

Tracery: Ornamental stonework in the upper part of a Gothic window.

Transept: A “T” or cross-shaped structure in a basilica.

Tympanum: Triangular surface bounded by the mouldings of a pediment; also the space, often carved, between the lintel and arch of a Gothic doorway.

Vault: A roof or ceiling built in stone, brick, or concrete, as opposed to wood. The simplest form is called a barrel vault and is one continuous arch.

Volute: Spiral scroll at each corner of an Ionic or Corinthian capital.


Sources for the Glossary:


Yahoo Geocities, Architecture Glossary

Grove Art Online



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