The Origin of Architecture Our word “architecture” comes from the Greek architecton, which means “master carpenter.” Early Greek architecture therefore employed wood, not stone. These early structures, as well as those of mud-brick, have not survived.
The Origin of Architecture Greek temples, like the earlier Egyptian hypostyle halls that their designs are based upon, used basic post-and-lintel construction. This type of design – which is based on right angles and not curves – is sometimes referred to as trabeated architecture.
Petrified Architecture However, by the 6th Century BCE, stone had replaced wood in the construction of important temples. This transformation in material from wood to stone is referred to as petrification. Designs still reflected their origins in wood, however.
Petrified Architecture In fact, the three-barred design of the triglyph, which alternates with the square, sculpted metope, was designed to mimic the grooves of a wooden truss’s end .
Petrified Architecture In moving from wood to stone, builders had to adapt to the differing properties of their building materials. Stone has greater compressive strength (resistance to crushing) than wood, but lacks wood’s tensile strength (tolerance of bending or twisting).
Petrified Architecture As a result, the Greeks designed temples that could have towering, widely-spaced columns, but their superstructures (the parts of the building held up by the columns) had to be solid, unified masses capable of being held together by multiple columns. This part must be solid. This part can have open space.
Petrified Architecture Some experts feel that the entasis, the outward bulging in the middle of Greek columns, may originally have been an imitation of the effect of great compression on the wooden posts of early Greek temples. It also serves as a kind of correction to an optical illusion, however, as will be discussed later.
Petrified Architecture Early temples had massive pillars, as architects worried about their ability to support the weight above. As a result, the earliest Greek temples, like the Temple of Hera I at Paestum, look low & wide. Later Greek temples, like the Temple of Hera II at Paestum, appear taller & more elegant.
The Purpose of a Temple Unlike modern churches or mosques, Greek temples’ interiors were not meant to be meeting places for worship. They were seen as earthly homes for the community’s god or goddess and a place to keep offerings. A cult image was centrally located within the naos, or central interior space.
The Purpose of a Temple In the mild climate of Greece, ceremonies honoring the temple’s god or goddess generally took place outdoors. Even the altar, upon which animal sacrifices were made, were outside the temple structure, usually proceeding the temple’s façade or front.
The Anatomy of a Greek Temple There are four distinct parts, or sections, that are used to construct a Greek temple. The lowest, horizontal part of the temple is its foundation, which looks like steps. Most Greek temples had three of these “steps”. Collectively, this section is called the stylobate.
The Anatomy of a Greek Temple The next section is the vertical, Capital height-building section that is referred to as the column. Most columns had a base (though not the Doric), at the Shaft bottom, a shaft in the middle, and a capital at the top. The shaft may also be smooth or fluted (a series of grooves that run the length of the Base shaft).
The Anatomy of a Greek Temple Above that, supported by the column, is the entablature. The entablature forms the ceiling of the temple. If the column is like a table leg, think of this as the tabletop. It has three parts: Architrave: the beam that rests on the capital. Frieze: A sculpted band. Cornice: A crowning trim.
The Anatomy of a Greek Temple The angled top section that forms the roof is called the pediment. The angled beam at the top is called the sloping cornice. The triangular part below is called the tympanum; this is often carved and decorated. Sometimes there are carved features attached to the roof; these are called antefixes (2D on roof edges) & acroterion (3D, on corners).
The Greek Architectural orders Greek temples, like Egyptian temples, tended to follow set design patterns, which were regarded as unchangeable, ideal forms. Resultantly, design variations are few in any given period. Instead, the architects choice of a particular Greek order (decorative detail style), expressed his creativity.
The Greek Architectural orders In order of chronological development, the three classical Greek orders are: The Doric The Ionic The Corinthian
The Doric Order The Doric order’s columns are – by comparison – the shortest and widest, making these temples the heaviest in appearance. The tripartite capital is plainly carved. Doric columns have thick shafts (though it loses some of its mass over time) that are constructed with cylindrical blocks called drums. The columns are baseless.
The Doric Capital As stated, the capitals of the Doric order’s columns consist of three separate elements. From top to bottom, they are: The Abacus The Echinus The Necking
The Temple of Zeus c. 470 – 456 BCE; Olympia, Greece
The Ionic Order Temples of the second Greek order, the Ionic, appear more elegant than the Doric. Besides basic proportion, the Ionic is distinguishable from the Doric order by its capital’s distinctive scroll-like volutes. The columns that they surmount also have shafts that are thinner and taller than the Doric. Finally, the Ionic order adds a base to the column.
The Ionic Capital As with the Doric order, Ionic order capitals also have three component elements. From top to bottom they are: The Abacus The Volute The Necking
The Temple of Artemis c. 323 BCE; Ephesus, Turkey
The Corinthian Order Of the three ancient Greek temple orders, the Corinthian order temples are by far the tallest, most elegant, and most majestic in their appearance. Their towering columns are topped by foliated capitals that are delineated by acanthus leaf carvings. As with the Ionic order, column bases are also employed.
The Corinthian Order Like the earlier Doric & Ionic orders’ capitals, the Corinthian also have three component elements. From top to bottom they are: The Abacus The Acanthus Leaves The Necking
Column Refinement Entasis Columns of all Greek orders feature a swelling of the shaft called entasis. Entasis counteracts the eye’s tendency to reach upward & forces it to look both ways. Also, columns that are straight appear thinner in the middle when seen against harsh light, making them appear flimsy. The shaft’s middle bulge visually counteracts this.
The Plans of Greek Temples The grandeur and evident expense of a temple can be determined by the number of columns that were used to construct it. Simple, early temples were only blank walls surrounding the naos. Later, an open area or porch was added in front, called a pronaos, supported with either two or four columns.
The Plans of Early Greek TemplesTemple In Antis Prostyle Amphiprostyle Simple naos, no A naos with a A naos with a pronaos pronaos in front pronaos at either end
The Plans of Greek Temples Later, grander temples, like the Parthenon in Athens, had both a front and back pronaos (like an amphiprostyle temple), but added a colonnade that surrounded the entire structure called a peristyle. A structure with this type of floor plan is referred to as a peripteral temple.
The Plans of Greek Temples Grandest of all, and generally constructed during the late Greek period (what is known as the Hellenistic Age), are dipteral temples. These are essentially peripteral temples, but with a second colonnade surrounding them, creating a double peristyle.
The Temple of Apollo c. 300 BCE; Didyma, Turkey
The Acropolis c. 450 BCE; Athens, Greece Perhaps the greatest concentrated collection of Greek architecture sits atop the Acropolis, the sacred sanctuary of Athena in Athens. This sanctuary’s collection of buildings includes: The Propylaia: The gatehouse The Temple of Athena Nike: The temple dedicated to victory. The Parthenon: The temple of Athena as patron goddess of Athens The Erechtheum: The temple dedicated to the early kings of Athens & the god Poseidon
The Parthenon c. 427 BCE; Athens, Greece This building is the culmination of Classical Greek architecture, and is the template that many other structures would go on to emulate. To create this temple, the architects (Kallikrates & Iktinos) included many subtle optical refinements. The result is a building that reflects the Greek concept of arete, visual perfection.
The Greek Legacy The forms and designs of ancient Greek architecture had a lasting impact on the world. The Romans went on to adopt its plans and orders as ideals, but would modify them to meet their more pragmatic building requirements, creating structures like the Pantheon in Rome.
The Greek Legacy As a result, the Greek forms of Greek architecture have become an integral part of the vocabulary of world architecture. In fact, the architecture of Rome would strongly influence the development of the United States’ federal architectural language, centuries after the Classical era.
Homework for Next Class Identify a building in the local area that uses the Greek architectural language that we learned in class today. Hint: Prime suspects for your building include banks, churches, and government buildings. Using a piece of graph paper & a pencil, sketch the façade, or front, of the building. Then, trace over your pencil sketch in black ink pen. Next, identify and label all of the Greek architectural elements from today’s lecture that you can in your sketch of that building’s façade. On the back of your sketch, please write your name, the name of the building, and its physical address. Your sketch will be due at the beginning of next class.