Portfolio: History of Western Architecture











Site : The Pisa Cathedral

* please note that this document is not free for distribution.It is solely for educational purpose.

Varun T

Department of architecture and planning

iit roorkee

This information has been accumalated from Fletcher, Notes of Prof SY Kulkarni, and from various sources on the world wide web.

This portfolio was adjudged as the best student portfolio of the year 2005-06.




Dad, to whom I owe my identity and everything that I am today. To Mom whose undaunted love and concern has always inspired me to excel.

To Professor Kulkarni my inspiration and guide whose thoughts have made History of Architecture one of the most interesting subjects of this semester. The Subject has greatly widened my perspective of Design.

To my friends who have pushed me by the hour to complete this portfolio in time.


I have to thank the Portfolio itself.. Whose making has brought me ever closer to Architecture.


History of Architecture ..Why?

For me (and for the movie buffs like me) all started....From the movies..

the huge arenas of the "Gladiator" and "Ben hur",the pyramids and temples of the "Mummy",the magnificent buildings of "Alexander" ,"Troy" and "The Fall of the Roman Empire"...Honestly.they have affected me to this extent that I have ,in fact chosen this very field -Architecture.

Now.. ARCHITECTURE. By the simplest definition, is the design of buildings,executed by architects. However, it is MORE. It is the expression of thought in building. It is not simply construction, the piling of stones or the spanning of spaces with steel girders. It is the intelligent creation of forms and spaces that in themselves express an idea.My first year here was totally exhausted in understanding these BIG sentences.

There were a lot of unanswered questions left at the end of third semester.. What makes people want to have a house? Or build a big palace? Why do people want to live in apartments? Why do people build temples? Why do churches look different from temples? What makes a building look balanced? Why are they mostly symmetrical? What makes a building look boring, or interesting? Why do people put decoration on? Why did they put it in those particular places?How do you roof a big room?This was the time when Prof Kulkarni came to our rescue..his first class was so touching that.. I paid a visit to the library the very evening(considering the fact that i hardly visit the library.. it was quite a surprise).

Shivers ran down my spine at the very sight of the book-history of architecture. Arguably the largest book of the library having prescribed course content for a semester!...as the course progressed from the prehistoric to the renaissance we learned about different faces of architecture.. changing in scale,definition and purpose.

The course turned out to be a very interesting and enjoying learning experiance. Prof Kulkarni taught us that..History of Architecture is not just history of a science but of mankind in totality. It is the Study of Human Evolution, their changing faith, their widening perspective, theirprosperity ,tyranny.. probably just about everything.

History tends to influence us in all spheres consciously or subconsciously. What we need to realize is that we never create anything new.. we add to the existing. So until we probe into what our predecessors had done we may never progress. It's the foundation on which the knowledge of today's world stands. Until and unless we are sure of it's strength, we cannot add new storeys to the built environment.

The relationship between design, history and theory was introduced using a wide range of cultural phenomena: philosophy, aesthetics cultural theory, etc.

This portfolio is a summary of my analytical and critical understanding of design issues and the ideas and processes, which lie behind the design artefact..

Before we start

Thank you Kulkarni sir for making the course such an enjoyable experience.

Architecture began when man started building buildings according to his own wishes.

During the early times man's choices were subject to his physical environment. However, man's superior wisdom enabled him to tame the physical environment, subject to his choices. The modus operandi, which he had adopted for this, is of interest to us.

Architecture was not created but it developed out of necessity. Man's need has been driving force in his progress. His need for food led him into cultivating fields. Agriculture in turn made him settle which necessitated the construction of a permanent structure. One need led to another and another to yet another. This endless cycle of need and its fulfillment gave birth to what we today call planning and technology. But as we know it "planning is limited by man's ignorance". One can never plan against problems he doesn't know or plan for goals he doesn't realize. It is the study of history, of our past, which makes us aware of our blunders and acquaints us with the procedures adopted by our ancestors in neutralizing a crisis.

History is a great tool in our hands. It enables us to understand, link and finally tame the factors that govern the architectural character of any region. These factors include

-The Geography

These factors in turn govern social, political and economical life of the people.

This definitely has an impact on the philosophy and idealogy of the designer and more importantly the patron.

It is iminent that the architecture should definitely be shaped accoringly. Besides, the building material (a dependant variable of the geology of the region) will definitely create an impact on construction technology, the design approach and the combined architectural style of the region.

All through the history the one thing that we shall realize from the examples that we take is that man has always faced hurdles in achieving a desired structure. Mans thought and its application has always been limited by nature and time. It seems however that the world isn't without a sense of irony, as limit is limitless. Just as needs never end, the human effort shall never die. Man will always find a better solution, a better answer to the questions that shall face him.

-The Geology

-The Climate and Sun

Prehistoric Architecture :

The very original plans were circular in shape, where the plants were planted along the circumference and when they grew to suitable heights, their free ends were tied. These plants were slowly replaced by wood and thatch made daub. A sone was usually kept on top for the stability of the structure. Finally the form of a hut came into being , initially rudimentary, then becoming more complex and sophisticated. The circular plans later gave way to rectangular ones. The building materials taken into use weer obtainable from natural sources. These included reeds, rushes, wattles and thatch made daub.

Apart from residential structures, man also built structures for other uses.

an introduction:

Prehistoric man was essentially a nomad living in the laps of nature. He was guided by nature's wisdom. But man had the absolute god gift, i.e. the power to think; the absolute motivator of man.This helped him to later become the master of nature. The concept of a settled life was unknown to him. His first thought on differentiating himself from animals, must have been towards providing a shelter for himself against other animals and the elements. Once man began cultivating land he hit upon the concept of property and the crops gave him the idea of permanence. The natural forces also motivated him to develop the concept of worship.

Man's first shelter was prefabricated-the cave, from where arose the concept of enclosures and ceilings. It protected him from the vagaries of nature and from beasts.

Trees gave him the idea of structural stability in the form of vertical supports.

Megalith building in prehistoric times

Sketches deptcting life of prehistoric man


The first man made shelter was created from sapplings. Sapplings were planted in a circle. They were allowed to grow. Later they were tied to one another at the top. A stone was placed on top for holding the structure in position. The weight of the stone kept the sapplings from spreading apart under action of elasticity. A circular plan was adopted for the ease of construction consturution and because the circle gives centrality (possessiveness) to space.


Shelter for the dead was just as big a problem as the shelter for the living.

Dolmen were type of prehistoric chamber consisting of two or more huge unhewn stone slabs, or megaliths, set edgewise in the earth and supporting a flat capstone that serves as a roof. Dolmens were sometimes covered with immense artificial hillocks or tumuli, but at times the covering of earth reached only the capstone. Many dolmens are surrounded by a circle of megaliths collectively called a cromlech. Archaeologists believe that dolmens were burial chambers. They are known to have served as altars, as on the island of Guernsey, where they were used by the Druids in theirreligious rites. Dolmens are particularly numerous in Ireland and Wales and in the English counties of Devon and Cornwall; in northwest France, especially in Bretagne; and in Spain.

Hut near jura (scotland)

Monolith, lockmariaker (britttany)

They are also found in northern Africa, in Syria, and in other countries ranging as far east as Japan. Sometimes the mound enclosing the dolmen was of great size, like that of Sidbury Hill, Wiltshire, England, which was 52 m (170 ft) high and 96 m (316 ft) along the slope.


Stonehenge is prehistoric ritual monument, situated on Salisbury Plain, north of Salisbury, England, and dating from the late Stone and early Bronze ages (circa 3000-1000 BC). It is the most celebrated of the megalithic monuments of England. Stonehenge is surrounded by a circular ditch, 104 m (340 ft) in diameter and 1.5 m (5 ft) deep, within which is a bank and a ring of 56 pits known as Aubrey holes (after their discoverer, the British antiquarian John Aubrey).

At the northeast end a break in the ditch affords access to a ditch-bordered avenue that extends in a generally northeastward direction to the East Avon River. The avenue is 23 m (75 ft) wide and nearly 3 km (2 mi) long.

The monument itself consists of four concentric ranges of stones. The outermost range is a circle, 30 m (100 ft) in diameter, of large, linteled, sandstone blocks called sarsen stones.

Within this circle is a circle of smaller blue stones consisting mainly of spotted dolerite, with four specimens each of rhyolite and of volcanic ash. The latter circle enclosed a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of five linteled pairs of large sarsen stones.Within this arrangement is a smaller horseshoe-shaped range of blue stones enclosing a slab of micaceous sandstone known as the Altar Stone.

The Stonehenge

The function of Stonehenge has long been a matter of conjecture. Acording to astronomers the Stonehenge complex could have been used to predict the summer and winter solstices, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, and eclipses of both the sun and moon. Moreover, a variety of other information pertaining to the sun and moon could also be predicted with remarkable accuracy. Hawkins concluded that Stonehenge functioned as a means of predicting the positions of the sun and moon relative to the earth, and thereby the seasons, and perhaps also as a simple daily calendar.

Near the entrance to the avenue lies the so-called Slaughter Stone, a sarsen stone that may originally have stood upright.

Grouped around the main structure are a number of barrows, some of which contain chips of a blue stone similar to that found in the concentric ranges. The blue stones are from the north flank of the Prescelly Mountains in Wales. The Altar Stone is believed to have come from the region near Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.

The Stonehenge

Egyptian Architecture

The inventors of the column.

Transforming their cosmos into the built environment.

The architect built his great heart into these sculptured stones,and with him toiled his children, and their lives were builded, with his own, into the walls,as offerings unto God .

  • Consider the momentous event in architecture when the wall parted and the column became.
  • Louis Kahn

Located on the west bank of the Nile River on the outskirts of Cairo, the pyramids at Giza, Egypt, rank as some of the best-known monuments in the world. The ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids to serve as royal tombs. Built without the use of cranes, pulleys, or lifting tackle, the massive structures stand as testaments to the engineering skills of their makers.

It is not the sense of height, or breadth or length or depth that is stirred, but the sense of immensity...After seeing the pyramid, all other architecture seems but pastry.

an introduction:

Egyptian civilization is said to be the oldest civilization of the world. It is today benign. Yet it has left its mark on the surface of the earth in the form of the immortal architecture that it created.

The Egyptian topography is basically plane with long spanning deserts, and governed by the flow of the Nile. The river Nile played an important role in the life of the Egyptians, be it trade, transport or agriculture. Such impact it had on their lives that they considered the Nile to be the axis in their architecture. Mud from the river's banks was the raw material for a well-established pottery industry as well as for the bricks used in construction. Egypt was gifted with abundant stones of rich quality, Limestone, granite, quartzite and basalt were found at quarries near Aswan,Tura,Ma'saraetc. Religion permeated life in ancient Egypt.

the architectural character:

The architecture of a building is conceived with two things in mind: Structural stability, and aesthetic design. In all structures, stability is obviously the aspect which takes precedence over aesthetics. A visually stunning building is worth nothing if it cannot stand the test of time. This is an idea which the Egyptians created, and then took to its utmost extreme.

Many view the Egyptian style of creation as the father of modern architecture, being as durable as it was stunning. Several common elements of architecture such as pillars were reputedly created by the Egyptians, and these are still used in the creation of modern buildings. The Egyptian engineers had a good grasp of fundamental physics, and the role it must play in the design of structures. The Architects then took this knowledge, and fused it with grand aesthetic design, creating buildings which would become a simple base of reference for all structures which were built in the future. Egyptian civilization is known primarily for the structures it left behind. Most of which still stand, either in whole or in part today. Although 3000 BC is considered almost prehistoric, the style of architecture which resulted from Egyptian building in this period is one which has endured as a major contribution to modern design and construction styles.

Egyptian architecture is characterized by preference for simple cubic masses, sense of weight, solidity, permanence. Massive tremendous scale, heavy walls and supports. Repetition of similar geometric forms: rectangular and polygonal piers, columns with capitals and shafts in simplified plant shapes. Allover decoration in low or sunken relief or painting. Axial organization. Architecture symbolic of eternal order, reflects natural order of environment of Nile Valley. The Egyptian orders show influence of the Egyptian cosmos. They represent papyrus trees. The colonnades together depict date palm plantations.

The Sanctum too in the Egyptian temples is of the shape of a boat showing what a significant role the Nile played in the life of the Egyptians.

The Egyptian pyramids were far more sophisticated and larger in size but similar symbolically: sacred stones. Apart from the pyramids, there were mortuary temples, valley buildings, offering chambers and minor structures consisting of pavilions, closed compound wall adjoining it were houses of preists , official buildings, stores, granaries etc. The temple of Khons, Karnak is an example.

The Temple of Abu simbel

the mastabas:

Mastaba tombs surround the pyramids of the Old Kingdom. Courtiers and families of the monarch were buried in these low rectangular brick or stone structures. Like the pyramids, they were built on the west side of the Nile (symbol of death, where the sun falls into the underworld).

The actual burial chamber was at the base of a deep vertical shaft below a flat-roofed stone structure. A false door was carved on the interior tomb wall near the entrance to the shaft. Often an image of the deceased was carved in the false door in order to entice the soul to enter the body. For the comfort and well-being of the deceased, the burial chamber was filled with material goods and food offerings, and the walls were decorated with scenes of daily activities. The mastabas were designed to ensure the well-being of the deceased for all eternity.

the stepped pyramids:

On the Pyramid of Sakarrah, most of the outer casing is gone. In some places the core masonry has disappeared as well. It is obvious there were different stages of construction. The eastern side gives the best picture, but it can be seen from the northern and southern side as well. He original structure was an underground burial chamber. This chamber was rare in that it was square; most mastabas were rectangular. The royal tomb is 28m underground with a vertical shaft leading to it. The entrance was sealed with a 3 ton piece of granite. The face of the mastaba was a fine Tura limestone. Apparently it was intended for this to be the finishing touches to the building. It was then enlarged all around with ten feet of additional limestone and then again with an extension on the eastern side. The extension was twenty-five feet of limestone to make the mastaba rectangular. Again, it was enlarged and a two-tiered structure was made. A series of corridors and a tomb chamber was dug. Some of the chambers are lined with blue tiles.

Top: Ruins of a Mastba

Right: Entrance to a Mastba in Gizeh

the great pyramids:

The most famous pyramids are found at Giza. They were built by three pharaohs - Cheops (or Khufu*), Chephren (Khafre*) and Mycerinus (Menkaure*) - during the second half of the third millennium B.C. This site is one of the seven classic wonders of the ancient world, the only one that has survived the passage of time.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops, the largest of the three at Giza, is estimated to comprise as many as 2.5 million limestone blocks with an average weight estimated at 2.5 tonnes (2.5 tons). The entire structure was encased in a fine white polished limestone brought from the hills at Tura, on the opposite side of the Nile.

When completed, the Great Pyramid stood 146.6 meters (481 feet) tall, and its base was 230.3 meters (756 feet) square. The capstones (pyramidions) of all the pyramids were made of solid polished granite. The King's burial chamber is located in the middle of the pyramid, high above ground, and a series of relieving chambers were built above it to prevent it from collapsing. Two narrow shafts(9"x6") that lead to the chamber for KA to pass.

Bottom:Section of The Great Pyramid of Cheops

The Great Pyramid of Cheops

the great sphinx:

The Sphinx is the oldest and longest stone sculpture from the Old Kingdom. During the eighteenth dynasty, it was called "Horus of the Horizon" and "Horus of the Necropolis", the sun god that stands above the horizon. In later times, many sphinx images were carved in smaller sizes or in cameos with the faces of the reigning monarchs. The face of the Great Sphinx is believed to be that of Chephren, the fourth-dynasty pharaoh who built the second-largest pyramid in the Giza triad. In the image of the Sphinx, the pharaoh was seen as a powerful god. Carved out of a natural limestone outcrop, the Sphinx is 19.8 meters (65 feet) high and 73.2 meters (240 feet) long. It is located a short distance from the Great Pyramid.

the great hypostyle hall:

The Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple was begun during the reign of King Sety I (c.1290-1279 B.C.) and was completed by his son, Ramesses II (c.1279-1213 B.C.). The north- south axis of the hall provides views which reveal not only the immensity but also the practicality of the architecture. The central row of 12 columns on the east-west axis are 69 feet/21 meters in height, about 33 feet/10 meters in circumference, and have open papyrus capitals. The 122 columns in the side aisles are 43 feet/13 meters in height, 27.5 feet/8.4 meters in circumference, and have closed papyrus-bud capitals. The difference in height between the central and the side aisle columns was used to provide natural light through clerestory windows which have vertical stone slats

West-Asiatic Architecture

( circa 3000 B.C. - 331 B.C. )

  • Mesopotamia - "the cradle of civilization"

The credit of the modern brick of today,coloured bricks, glazed bricks, and fire burnt bricks goes to this civilization.

The Arch was born here.

"courtyard planning"

Even whole cities were raised on plinths.To countre humidity, which was an overriding factor, well areated houses were made.The art of brack making however excelled primarily due to plentiful alluvial soil.The credit of the modern brick of today,coloured bricks, glazed bricks, and fire burnt bricks goes to this civilization. The binding material was made of gypsum. now beams couldnt be made hence arches were made, leading to the development of the arcuated system.

The Sumerian temple was a small brick house that the god was supposed to visit periodically. It was ornamented so as to recall the reed houses built by the earliest Sumerians in the valley. This house, however, was set on a brick platform, which became larger and taller as time progressed until the platform at Ur (built around 2100 BC) was 150 by 200 feet (45 by 60 meters) and 75 feet (23 meters) high. These Mesopotamian temple platforms are called ziggurats, a word derived from the Assyrian ziqquratu, meaning "high." They were symbols in themselves.They were structures of awe and wonder. The Ziggurat at Ur was planted with trees to make it represent a mountain.


To the east of Egypt another civilization appeared about 3000 BC, that of the Sumerians, the Assyrians and the Babylonians in the river valley of the Tigris and Euphrates called Mesopotamia, or the "land between the rivers."

The characteristics of the Mesopotamian society and the way in which developed were largely determined by the geography of the region. The rich fertile soil of the area, which was the result of the rich silt and water provided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, attracted settlers to Mesopotamia. The rich land meant the creation of food surpluses, which allowed some settlers to move away from agriculture and into trade. It also resulted in the growth of the population that, in turn, gave rise to the process of urbanization. Since the land was marshy they lived and harnessed the marshes, stone was scarce. It was therefore used carefully and rarely.Structures were built and rebuilt eventually ending up in solid foundation.

These holy mountains were constructed on earth mounds, with plinths of stone and an outer lining of brick. They were oriented such that the corners face the cardinal directions. Some outstanding ones re that at. Apart from the fortifications and the Ziggurats , buildings of all types were arranged around large and small courts, the rooms narrow and thick walled carrying brick barrel vaults and sometimes domes.The roofs were usually flat outside except where domes protruded.Burnt Bricks were used sparingly for facings Where special stress was expected. Walls were whitewashed ,or, as in the case of the Ziggurats were painted in colour.The Mesopotamian doorways were spanned by double semicircular arches. Windows were rare,square headed and high up the walls, tall doorways normally sufficed to admit light.

The architecture of the Persians was columnar and thus vastly different from the massive arcuatedstructures of the mesopotamian proples they conquered.Its light and airy charecter was due to the nomadic orogin of the persians and climate of their native table lands.Flat timber roofs rather than vaults served for coverings ,which allowed columns to be slender and graceful, while with their help rooms could be large where necessary and of square proportions rather than elongated as the Mmesopotamian brick vaults demanded.For ceilings ,wooden brackets and beams carried by the colums supported a covering of clayon a bedding of reeds on logs or planks. The use of double brick walls as at Persepolis, may have allowed small windows just below the ceiling level without their appearing on severe external facades. Stone was plentiful on the upland sites, but was used sparingly for such as fire temples and palace platforms, for door and window surrounds,rich ornate colums and relief sculpture.

Some highlights were courtyard planning, presence of sunken panels for extra strength, presence of battlements etc.

The ziggurat continued as the essential temple form of Mesopotamia during the later Assyrian and Babylonian eras. In these later times it became taller and more tower like, perhaps with a spiral path leading up to the temple at the top.

top:the ziggurat of urnammu

the temple oval at khafaje:

It is enclosed in an oval 328' x 230'. Within the oval the arrangement was rectilinear with corners oriented NSEW directions. Of the three ascending terrace levels the lowest made the forecourt approached through an arched and lowered gateway from the town and having many-roomed building on one side which was either an executive building or a dwelling for the arch-priest. The second terrace was surrounded by rooms used as workshops and stores. Near its staircase and against the side of the temple terrace, was a sacrificial altar.

the ziggurat of urnammu:

The Ziggurat of Urnammu is abot 20' high. It's base spans 205' x 141'. The ziggurat had a solid core of sun-dried bricks and the external facade was packed with burnt bricks. The Ziggurat was built in normal orientation. It featured three flights of stairs to reach the first out of the three levels.

the city of persepolis:

The various buildings stand on a platform They rise 50' above the plane of the base. Persepolis also features the Hall of Hundred columns. These columns were made of stone and mainly coloured.

Yet the most striking feature of the city is the excellent relief work done in brick. The bricks used were coloured.

temple of khafaje

Left:The ruins of the city of persepolis

The Idealists of form and proportions.

Carpentry in marble.

To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects.

LeCorbusier Greek architecture is the flowering of geometry - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Earth proudly wears the Parthenon

As best gem upon her zone.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Problem

Greek influence is visible in everything that we have today. Our laws, cities and even our system of government all come from aspects of Greek civilization, but maybe what we have been influenced the most by the Greeks is in architecture.

It was stated, . . . that the value of architecture depended on two distinct characters:—the one, the impression it receives from human power; the other, the image it bears of the natural creation. - John Ruskin,

top:Temple to Athena Parthenos, The Parthenon (448-432 BC) Iktinos and Kallikrates, architects Pentelic marble.

Ancient Greece consisted of islands and settlements in South Italy and Sicily, Western Asia Minor , Cyrenia and others distributed sporadically elsewhere around the Mediterranean and the black sea. The rugged nature of the peninsula , made sea the inevitable means of intercourse.

Greece and her domains had good ample supplies of building stone, but the mineral of greatest importance to her architecture was marble , the most beautiful and monumental of all building materials and one which facilitates the exactness of line and refinement of detail. They exploited the landscape to the fullest as in the creation of stadiums .The climate was intermediate between rigorous cold and relaxing heat, hence the Greek character, combining the energy of the north with the lethargy of the south, produced an unique civilization. The climate favored an outdoor life, thus porticoes and colonnades were important features of their architecture.

The Architectural Character:

Their democratic attitude is reflected in their extrovert buildings.i.e buildings with great clarity. They were idealists and were always on the quest of form and proportion. Owing to their innate desire for ideal forms , they worked a lot on harmonics and carried out their architectural activities in the human scale. Yet, monumentality was Juxtaposed with this, accompanied by dignity. The Greeks can be classified into two periods : the Hellenic and the Hellenistic.

Top:Front Elevation The Parthenon.

Right:Model of the Acropolis

The Hellenic period: Early Hellenic architecture had the features in common with its predecessor . Temples were of the chief building type. They resembled the agean Megaron in plan and having timber laced, sun dried brick walls, stucco covered, on stone dadoes, timber enframed portals( originators of the architrave), narrowing a little towards the top: timber antae or uprights projecting free ends of the naos walls where they embraced the porch, and low pitched roof showing pediments and gables over the narrow ends. Colonnades appear from front and surround the temple forming an essential part of it. Greek architecture was essentially columnar and trabeated and this gave it the simple straightforward character in which the constructive system is self evident. The wooden roof was untrussed, Rafters being supported by longitudinal beams- wall plates, purlins and ridge piece- laid on the walls and colonnades themselves or propped on struts from cross beams. Spans could not be large unless internal lines of columns were supplied. Greek columns and entablatures were at first entirely of timber, with terra-cotta decorations in the upper trabeation, but were converted into stone early in the period , about 600 B.C.

Walls too became wholly of stone, yet the tradition of dado survived. Almost all kinds of stone walls were used, from coffered rouble to the finest ashlar, well bonded- but always without mortar.

Several important refinements were carried out in Greek architecture, in order to correct optical illusions. Long horizontal lines like the stylobates, architraves and cornices were formed with slight convex outlines vertical features were also inclined inwards towards the top to correct the appearance of falling outwards. Various buildings came into the picture. Acropolis (The holy city), temples, tombs, theatres, agora, assembly halls, stadiums, hippodrome and polestar.

Democracy , extrovertness and understandability were aimed at. The orders of architecture were created These were the Doric (representing male character). Ionic (representing female character), and corinthian (representing nature).

top:Front facade of the The Propylaea

Left :Details of Triglyph

the architectural order:

By the end of the 7th century B.C., two major architectural styles, or orders, emerged that dominated Greek architecture for centuries: Doric and Ionic. The Doric order developed on the Greek mainland and in southern Italy and Sicily, while the Ionic order developed a little later than the Doric order, in Ionic and on some of the Greek islands. In addition to Doric and Ionic, a third order, the Aeolic, developed in northwestern Asia Minor, but died out by the end of the Archaic period, and a fourth, the Corinthian, emerged late in the 5th century B.C..

No matter what order it belonged to, a temple facade was made up of three main parts, the steps, the columns, and the entablature (the part that rested on the columns). Each of these parts also had three parts. There were three steps leading into the temple, the topmost of which was called the stylobate, and each column typically consisted of a base, shaft, and capital. The entablature consisted of an architrave (plain horizontal beam resting on the columns), a frieze, which corresponded to the beams supporting the ceiling, and a cornice, a set of decorative moldings that overhung the parts below.

Doric order:

The Doric order was the simplest and sturdiest of the three orders. Its tapering columns rest directly on the stylobate. Doric columns have no base. Shallow parallel grooves called flutes rise from the bottom to the top of the shaft and emphasize its function as a vertical support. Sharp ridges divide the flutes. At the top of the shaft a fluted ring called the necking provides a transition to the column's capital. The Doric capital consists of a rounded, cushion like element called the echinus, and a horizontal square element called the abacus, which bears the load of the building above. The Doric architrave is a plain beam left undecorated so as not to disguise its function. Above it, the Doric frieze consists of alternating triglyphs and metopes.

Triglyphs are thick grooved panels that help support the weight of the structure above. Metopes are thinner panels that do no work in holding up the temple and hence invite decoration in the form of painting or sculpture.

Overhanging the parts below is the decorative cornice molding. Like an eave it helps keep rainwater clear of the building. Above the horizontal cornice a low, pitched roof rises to produce a triangular pediment at either end of the temple. Sculpture fills the pediments of many Doric temples. The simplicity of the Doric order clearly emphasizes the structural function of each part. Originally, paint also enlivened its surfaces. Architectural elements (especially in the entablature) were often painted deep red, yellow-gold, white, or blue.

Ionic order:

The Ionic order is distinguished from the Doric primarily by its column and frieze. The Ionic column rests on an elaborate curving base rather than directly on the stylobate. The column shaft usually has deeper flutes and is more slender than the Doric. The height-to-base ratio of early Ionic columns was 8 to 1, compared with a ratio between 4 to 1 and 6 to 1 for Doric columns. The typical Ionic capital has two spiral volutes, elements that resemble partly unrolled scrolls. These straddle a small band at the top of the shaft, usually carved with an elaborate decorative pattern. The Ionic capital looks different from the sides than from the front or back. This difference caused problems in columns that stood at the corners, where volutes had to slant at a 45-degree angle so that their spiral pattern would look the same from the front of the temple as from the sides.

The Ionic architrave, unlike the plain Doric architrave, consists of three narrow bands. The frieze above it is often decorated with sculpture and is continuous, not divided into triglyphs and metopes as in the Doric order. Multiple rows of moldings decorate the Ionic cornice. They are generally carved in more intricate patterns than in Doric entablatures, and may include a row of square "teeth" called dentils. Over all, Ionic is a more ornamental and graceful style than Doric, but it lacks the clarity and power of the Doric style. As a result, ancient critics regarded the Doric order as masculine and the Ionic as feminine. Even so, architects used the Ionic order not only for small, delicate buildings such as the Treasury of the Siphnians at Delphi (525? B.C.), but also for more monumental structures. In fact, the first colossal Greek temples were Ionic—the Temple of Hera on the island of Sámos and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (both under construction by about 560 B.C.). Both featured double rows of Ionic columns, and were gigantic—the temple at Ephesus measured 112 m (366 ft.) in length, with columns some 18 m (60 ft.) tall. Although Doric and Ionic are often considered mutually exclusive regional styles, some buildings combined features of both orders.

Corintian order:

The Corinthian order resembles Ionic in most aspects, but Corinthian columns have tall capitals shaped like an upside-down bell and are covered with rows of acanthus leaves and small vine like spirals called helixes. The first known Corinthian column stood alone inside the cella of the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae (429?-405? B.C.). Indeed, the Corinthian order was at first used only for columns inside buildings—it did not appear externally until the 4th century B.C..

Top :Birds Eye view of the Acropolis

Left: Details of Corinthian order

the parthenon:

The Parthenon stands apart as the human victory in the achievement of desired span (though linear alone).

The Parthenon is built in Doric peristyle with 8 columns by 17 columns. Many optical refinements were incorporated to give the Parthenon the illusion of greater balance and proportion. The space between columns and thickness of the columns vary to create this effect. The columns are also convex to make them appear more straight from a distance. The flat base and steps of the Parthenon are actually a curve and the columns tilt inward slightly. These, and many more subtle techniques, combat the natural illusion of a square building being top heavy and its columns unproportioned. It is important to remember that many of the exterior surfaces on the Parthenon would have been painted to increase the temple's eye-pleasing effect. The frieze was highly decorated and the thick cornice supported the pediments with their sculptures. A marble tiled roof diverted the rain without gutters..

the acropolis:

The Acropolis in Athens has been in use by humans since the Neolithic period. In the late Helladic age, a Mycenaean settlement built a wall there, later to be called the Cyclopean wall on account of its large stones. Various Mycenaean buildings stood atop the Acropolis, including the tomb of Cecrops, supposed founder of the Athenian dynasty. Thus the Acropolis has developed a highly elevated platform . All the above temples and also the Parthenon later have been constructed one over the other..The access to the Acropolis is provided through the Propylaea, a magnificent structure and the route takes the individual right through the complex before leading to the entrance of the Parthenon, opposite to the propylaea.

the propylaea:

The Propylaea serves as a majestic gateway to the Acropolis. It was designed by Mnesikles, replacing an earlier entrance, and was built mainly of Pentelic marble. Built from 437-432 BC, its construction was abandoned during the Peloponnesian War and never completed. Pericles built the Propylaea with funds mainly from the temple treasuries of Athena and Hephaistos.

The Propylaea consisted of a central hall and two flanking wings. The central hall is a rectangle and its side walls have antae at each end. Facing east and west are two Doric hexastyle porticoes. The hall itself is divided by the portal, consisting of five gateways. A paved ramp leads through the center gateway while stairs lead up into the smaller side gateways. Both wings have porticoes, with the north wings portico screening a chamber behind, while the south portico has nothing behind it and is slightly smaller.

Above:The Caryatids

Below:The plan of the erecthion:

the erecthion:

The Erecthion was completed circa 409 BC, though it later burned and was rebuilt in 395 BC. In the 6th century AD, it was converted into a church. Later, in 1463, the Turks used the building as a harem. In 1801, Lord Elgin acquired various parts of the temple, including a Caryatid from the south porch, and removed them to England. Since then, the temple has undergone restoration, the most recent being finished in 1986. The entire temple was unified by a single frieze which ran all the way around the temple, nearly uninterrupted. The subject of the frieze is unknown, though it is known to have been of Pentelic marble figures attached onto a background of dark Eleusian marble.

Above :The front facade of the propylaea

The ancient Romans built their greatest masterpieces of architecture, their amphitheaters, for wild beasts to fight in.


They conquered by war, dominated by force of charecter and then ruled by laws and civilized by arts and letters

Their majestic buildings are ion accord with the grandeur of roman imperial power.

While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;

When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
And when Rome falls — the world.

— Lord Byron

  • Pantheon (front facade)

The etruscans, an immigrant people, whose civilizaion the Romans arrested and absorbed , occupied only the west central portion of italy, and not the whole, as did the Romans later on.

Map, Roman Empire

The central and commanding position of Italy in the Mediterrnaean Sea Enabled Rome to act asan intermediarary in spreading art and civilization over europe, west asia and north africa.

In their empire building the Romans proceeded logically:They conquered by war, dominated by force of charecter and then ruled by laws and civilized by arts and letters.The Romans could procure suitable earths for the making of terracota and bricks. There was ample stone and at that time adequate timber.The building stones included tufa, travertine besides excellent sand and gravel.The building material which led to great structural innovations was concrete.not only vaults and domes but also walls were frequently made of this concrete.Pozzolona a volcanic earth was found in the region of Naples.Pozzolona is a much superior substitute for sand and when mixed with lime and wetted, produces a mortar of very great strength and tenacity. With the advent of new material new construction styles developed.

They were:1) Opus Incertum- stone inserted in concrete as face work.2) Opus Reticulatum- diagonal right angeled joints on face work. 3) Opus Testaceum- brick facework over concrete.4) Opus Quadratum- use of rectangular stone blocks. Religious feeling had not so srtong a hold on the romans. Their architectural charecter was so pronounced and assertive as to leave very little choice in general design.The principal buildings were not only the temples but also public buildings, which were the material expression of roman rule and imperial power. The social life of the people is clearly revealed in the architecture- there were games and bathing, circusesfor races, amphitheatres for gladitorial contests, theatres for dramas, basilicas

They were:1) Opus Incertum- stone inserted in concrete as face work.2) Opus Reticulatum- diagonal right angeled joints on face work. 3) Opus Testaceum- brick facework over concrete.4) Opus Quadratum- use of rectangular stone blocks. Religious feeling had not so srtong a hold on the romans. Their architectural charecter was so pronounced and assertive as to leave very little choice in general design.The principal buildings were not only the temples but also public buildings, which were the material expression of roman rule and imperial power. The social life of the people is clearly revealed in the architecture- there were games and bathing, circusesfor races, amphitheatres for gladitorial contests, theatres for dramas, basilicas for lawsuits, state temples for religion and the apartment house domus.The forum was the centre of public life and national commerce.

The Architectural Charecter.

Romans adopted the columnar and trabeated style of the greeks and also developed the arch and the vault from the beginnings made by the etruscans.The combined use of column,beam, and arch is athe keynote of the roman style in its earliest stages.The orders of architecture which as used by the greeks ,weer essentially constructive weer frequently employed by the romans as decorative features.The romans added two orders The Tuscan and the Composite.

for lawsuits, state temples for religion and the apartment house domus.The forum was the centre of public life and national commerce.

The Architectural Charecter.

Romans adopted the columnar and trabeated style of the greeks and also developed the arch and the vault from the beginnings made by the etruscans.The combined use of column,beam, and arch is athe keynote of the roman style in its earliest stages.The orders of architecture which as used by the greeks ,weer essentially constructive weer frequently employed by the romans as decorative features.The romans added two orders The Tuscan and the Composite.

The architectural aims of the romans wee essentially utilitarian. They testify to the great constructive ability they posessed.Their majestic buildings are ion accord with the grandeur of roman imperial power.It was upon the capacity to span over enormous spaces that the charecter of roman architecture largely depended on.Concrete vaults were developed so that they could be accomodated into complicated planformswithout involving laborious stone cutting.The romans used theSemicircular Waggon headded vault,the cross vault,and hemispherical domes.The hemicycle or niche,the gothic-spur buttress and the principle of pinnacle was extensively used.

Forums,planThe Forum of Trajan dedicated in AD 112, and the Column of Trajan commemorate his military victories as well as providing public buildings for meeting, shopping, and conducting business. It was the most comprehensive forum yet built by an emperor in a tradition that suggested that emperors should continue to develop the grandeur and functionality of the heart of their capital city while also enhancing their own image.

It included not only the large courtyard, meeting area but also a large market and basilica with two libraries. Huge building projects like this spoke equally of Rome's glory and the emperor's.

the pantheon:

The building is designed in one of a large round shape of theoretical spherical and cubic geometry. The Pantheon is the historical example of a centralized building. The interior of the building is generated from a vertical centerline, an invisible axis passing through the center of the building. In any given horizontal plane, all distances outward from this vertical line to the walls are of equal radii. The main entrance of the Pantheon is impressive: double bronze doors, each 21 feet high, protected by 16 well arranged granite columns which support a gable style roof, welcomes visitors. The majestic rotunda has an inner diameter of 142.4 feet and is made mostly of concrete (4' thick).The eye of the Pantheon is an engineering marvel is 21' wide. The absence of the keystone is counteracted by the hidden buttresses in the thick rotunda walls. The dome was coffered not only to reduce the dead weight but also to reflect light into the inner space to create a magical effect. The absesnce of solid mass of the blind windows in the first level is balanced by the buttresses placed between them alternately.

Below:Front Facade

Cross section- Height of the drum is 1/2 of the 142' diameter- the dome is 1/2 of sphere. Below:The interior,Pantheon

The Colosseum:

It is elliptical shaped with radiating arches. It stood 160 feet high with four stories of windows, arches, and columns. Each of the three exterior floors consisted of 80 arches holding 80 different statues.

A wooden flooring was used to cover the subterranean chambers where the gladiators as well as the animals were kept prior to performance.The columns used in thedifferent levels belong to different orders. Basement and ground characterized by doric order, first by ionic and second and top by corinthian. As we can see the type of order selected was influence by the load on the floor. second and top by corinthian. As we can see the type of order selected was influence by the load on the floor.


Plan at ff level

Exterior view

the forum of trajan:

Forums were the centre of all trade and commerce in Rome. They were divided into three parts namely :

1) the forum proper

2) the marketing area

3) the basilica

The Basilica of Trajan had a central nave 385' long and 87' wide. The aisle sabout the nave were 23.75' wide. The total internalo height was 120'. due to the perishable nature the roof is not existent now but the structure indicates an inclined timber roof.

Internal view of the forum


Trajan'sMarket view of the upper level. The market is built into and steps up a hillside.

thermae of caracalla:

Southeast of ancient Rome's center are the red-brick ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. This huge 27 acre complex (11 hectares) housed bathing facilities with seats for more than 1600 people. At a time when Rome's crowded tenements had few sanitary facilities, the more than 50 baths in Imperial Rome played an important part in the lives of the Roman citizens. The ritual of bathing was a long process, starting with a hot bath in the calidarium (central circle). Next up was the lukewarm tepidarium (below calidarium), followed by the cold frigidarium (right in front of entrance). Then followed a swim in the natatio, an open air swimming pool. The complex was actually a multifunctional leisure center and also housed gymnasiums, libraries, gardens, art galleries, restaurants and even brothels. The Baths of Caracalla were known for its rich interior which featured marble seats, mosaic covered walls and floors as well as fountains and statues. The water for this facility was provided by means of an aqui-duct.

Interior view


Birds eye view

Early Christian Architecture

(313 A.D- 800 A.D)

"Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem." - ROLLO M

The Early Christians were the first to use glass in architecture

The Churches were raised high to provide an impression of a link between God and his children.

Early christian buildings hardly give the architectural value of a syle produced by the solution of constructive problems.

Christianity developed in the Roman Empire and, accordingly, early Christian art was strongly influenced by classical art in form, style and content.

The churches evolved its plan and arrangement from catacombs- hideouts for christianity preaches outside the city

  • The Archangel Michael

The architectural character:

The early christians , as roman craftsmen , continued old roman traditions,but prosperity was declining and it was natural thatfor the new buildings, they should utilise as far as possibible the materials from roman temples which had become useless for their original purpose.Early christian buildings hardle give the architectural value of a syle produced by the solution of constructive problems.

Evolution of the church form:The basilicas of the romans wereideal for their function dedicated to serve of the kings.The churches evolved from the roman buildings which had the main room used to assemble people fro scholarly talks.The churches evolved its plan and arrangement from catacombs- hideouts for christianity preaches outside the city.The plan also owes its form from the navis-than nave of the ship.

Early christian architecture in Rome was influenced by and was the logical outcome of ,existing roman art, and it was modified in other parts of the empire according to the type aldredy recognised as suitable for the geographical situation of those countries, such as Syria, Asia Minor,North Africa and Egypt.

The development wasslow and low.The ruins of roman buildings often provided the quarry whence materials were obtained.This influenced the style , both as regards construction and decoration for the colums and other archittectural features , as well as fine scupltures and mosaics from older buildings, were worked into basilican churches of the new faith.By the name itself early christian architecture was inspired fro the new born religion - christianity.The in 326 Constantine made Christianitythe official religion of the roman empire.Constantine changed his capital from Rome to Byzantium.

  • Interior of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Rome

Basilican churches had either closely spaced columns carrying the enablature,or more widely spaced colums carrying semicircular arched.The basiclican church with three of five aisles , covered by a simple timmber roof , is typical of the Early Christian style.The architectural charecter of the basilican churches is rendered impressive and dignified by the long perspective of colums which carry the eye along to the sanctuary, a treatment which combined with the comparitively low height of interiors, makes theese churches appear longer than they really are.

The Early Christians were the first to use glass in architecture. It was also used in the clearstorey windows that lit up the central nave.

The planning was axial. The apse, nave and the altar are all axially lined up. This planning was a consequence of the linear planning which the Romans had adopted on account of the heavy stone as their building material and the lack of good bonding technology.The plan of the church clearly shows an external open courtyard. The courtyard is flanked by colonades on each side. Infront of the courtyard is the narthex. This forms a transition space between the outer environment and the inner holy space. In any religious building this transission space is a very important aspect.

It is rightly said that adversities make a man. If it wasn't for the lack of funds who would know what form would have characterized the churches of today. Thus we can say that te History, economy, social life and religion not only influence the buildings built in the present but also those to be built in the future.

  • Below:Elements of Church Architecture