Neoclassical Architecture and Its Foundations

Topics: Doric order, Ionic order, Corinthian order Pages: 6 (2056 words) Published: March 30, 2006
Neo-Classical Architecture and its Foundations

Classical architecture is something that almost anyone can appreciate because there are traces of it everywhere. Greek and Roman cultures have had a major influence on today's architecture but it all stems from the classical architecture that was created centuries ago. The present example is Neoclassical Architecture which first appeared in 18th century France and in America, it was promoted by the legendary Thomas Jefferson as the Federal style. During the Neoclassical period, the ideas of balance, harmony, and idealism resurfaced and were once again popular. Now sit back and prepare to be taught a thing or two about architecture and where most of the main principles and ideas came from.

Modern architects really owe the ancient Greeks a round of applause for making so many attributions and really laying down the foundations and concepts that are used today. Greek life was dominated by religion and so it only makes sense why they put so much time and energy into building some of the biggest and most beautiful temples. Their buildings had political purposes and were often built to celebrate civic power, or to offer their thanks to the patron God of a city for success in battle.

The Greeks developed three architectural systems that wound up playing a large role in Neoclassical architecture. The systems, called orders, each have their own distinctive detailing and proportions. The Greek orders are: Dionic, Ionic, and Corinthian. These are all different styles of columns, which during this time period provided most of the structures support. However, later on in Neoclassicism , columns were used primarily for decorative purposes. The Doric style is the oldest and most sturdy, the column itself is thicker as well. The top part of the column is called the capital and is very plain, no decoration. This style was used in mainland Greece and in southern Italy and Sicily. The Parthenon, located on Acropolis in Athens, is a great example of the use of Doric columns. The Parthenon was originally constructed in the 5th century BC and even though it has suffered an enormous amount of damage it has been able to hold its own over the centuries and still maintain the ideals of order and harmony for which Greek architecture is known for.

The Ionic style column is much thinner and more delicate looking than the Doric. The capital on an Ionic column requires more skill to construct because it is decorated with a scroll-like design, known in the architectural world as a volute. This style was more prevalent in eastern Greece and the Mediterranean islands. The Erectheum, which is also located on Acropolis, was constructed sometime between 421 and 405 BC, displays the volutes of the Ionic columns. The Erectheum was originally built to contain sanctuaries to Athena Polias, Poseidon, and Erectheus. The building was to contain several shrines and the site it is located on happens to be at a slight tilt, it created sort of an unusual plan. From the main section of the building (the body), porticoes project on the east, north, and south sides. Porticoes are the porches that are created by the layout of the columns. The eastern portico provides access to the Shrine of Athena, which was separated from the western cella. A cella is what a person from Massachusetts might call a basement. Just kidding! A cella is the main room of a temple. The northern portico stands at a lower level and provides a way through the western cella and through a very fine doorway. The southern portico is known as the Porch of the Courtyards, named after the six sculptured female figures that support its' entablature and is the temples best feature that forms the tribune or gallery. All columns have an entablature. The entablature of a column is pretty much everything above the abacus. The abacus provides support for the entablature on top of the capital. The entablature includes the...
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