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Greek Architecture 
Kevin J. Benoy
Origins 
• Our word “architecture” 
comes from the Greek 
architecton, which 
means “master 
carpenter.” 
• Early Greek ar...
Wood Features in Stone 
• By the 6th Century 
BC, stone replaced 
wood in the 
construction of 
important temples. 
• Desi...
Origins 
• The trigyph, which alternates with the 
metapes, began as wooden beam ends.
Origins 
• In moving from wood to stone, 
builders had to adapt to the 
differing properties of their 
building materials....
Origins 
• Greek temples, like 
Egyptian temples, 
used basic post-and-beam 
construction. 
• This is sometimes 
referred ...
Origins 
• Early temples had 
massive pillars as 
architects worried 
about their ability to 
support the weight 
above. 
...
Origins 
• Some experts feel that 
the entasis, the outward 
bulging in the middle of 
Greek columns, may 
originally have...
Entasis 
• Entasis counteracts the tendency of 
the eye to reach upward, forcing it 
to travel up and down the shaft. 
• C...
Temples - Purpose 
• Unlike modern churches or 
mosques, Greek temples 
were not meant to be 
meeting places for 
congrega...
Temples - Purpose 
• In the mild climate of Greece, ceremonies 
generally took place outdoors. 
• Even the alter, upon whi...
Temple Forms 
• Greek temples, like 
Egyptian ones, tended 
to follow set patterns, 
which were regarded 
as ideal forms. ...
The Classical Orders 
• The three 
classical orders 
are: 
– Doric 
– Ionic 
– Corinthian
The Doric Order 
• Doric columns are the 
heaviest in appearance 
• The capital is plain. 
• The shaft is thick – 
though ...
The Ionic Order 
• These have greater 
elegance. 
• The capital has 
distinctive volutes. 
• The shaft is thinner 
than it...
The Corinthian Order 
• This is also a tall, 
elegant form. 
• The capital has 
distinctive acanthus 
leaf decoration. 
• ...
Parts of a Greek Temple 
• There are four 
distinct parts to a 
greek temple. 
– The bottom, 
horizontal part is the 
step...
Parts of a Greek Temple 
• The next section is 
vertical and is the 
column. 
– Most columns had a 
base (though not the 
...
Parts of a Greek Temple 
• Above the column is 
the entablature. If 
the column is the leg, 
think of this as the 
tableto...
Parts of a Greek Temple 
• The top section is angled 
and is called the pediment. 
– The sloping top part is 
called the s...
Plans of Greek Temples 
• The grandeur and 
evident expense of a 
temple can be seen in 
the number of columns 
employed. ...
Designs of Greek Temples
Designs of Greek Temples 
• Grander temples, like 
the Parthenon, had 
both a front and back 
porch, as well as a 
colonna...
Designs of Greek Temples
Designs of Greek Temples 
• Grander still, and 
generally from 
the Hellenistic 
age, are dipteral 
temples. 
• They have ...
Designs of Greek Temples
Important Structures – The 
Acropolis 
• The most 
famous Greek 
buildings 
topped the 
Athenian 
Acropolis. 
• These incl...
The Propylaea 
• This is the 
monumental 
entry point to 
the acropolis.
Temple of Athena Nike 
• This is a small temple 
dedicated to the 
victorious Athena. 
• The ratio of height to 
diameter ...
The Parthenon 
• This is the most 
important and 
perfectly formed 
temple on the 
acropolis. 
• Dedicated to Athena, 
it ...
Parthenon 
• This building is the 
culmination of 
Classical Greek 
architecture. 
• Optical refinements 
are many, and th...
The Parthenon 
• One of the Parthenon’s 
most impressive features 
was not seen by most 
worshippers – the great 
frieze s...
The Erechtheum 
• This is a complex 
building of up to four 
distinct spaces. 
• It is also built on a 
slope, so its wall...
The Erechtheum 
• The most distinctive element of this building is the 
Porch of the Maidens.
Important Structures – The Great 
Altar of Pergamum 
• This Hellenistic 
building broke 
completely with 
traditional styl...
The Greek Heritage 
• Greek architecture 
had a lasting 
impact on the 
world. 
• The Romans 
adopted it as an 
ideal, but...
The Greek Heritage 
• Today, elements of 
Greek architecture 
surround us 
everywhere, from the 
Doric columns gracing 
lo...
The Greek Heritage 
• Greek forms 
have become an 
integral part of 
the vocabulary 
of world 
architecture 
The Supreme C...
Finis
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Greek architecture

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Greek architecture

  1. 1. Greek Architecture Kevin J. Benoy
  2. 2. Origins • 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.
  3. 3. Wood Features in Stone • By the 6th Century BC, stone replaced wood in the construction of important temples. • Designs still reflected their origins in wood, however.
  4. 4. Origins • The trigyph, which alternates with the metapes, began as wooden beam ends.
  5. 5. Origins • In moving from wood to stone, builders had to adapt to the differing properties of their building materials. • Stone has greater compressive (resistance to crushing) strength than wood, but lacks tensile strength (resistance to bending or twisting). Therefore, while columns/posts might be relatively thin, the entablature/beams, must be quite thick.
  6. 6. Origins • Greek temples, like Egyptian temples, used basic post-and-beam construction. • This is sometimes referred to as trabeated.
  7. 7. Origins • Early temples had massive pillars as architects worried about their ability to support the weight above. • Later temples appear more elegant. Temple of Hera, Paestum Hephaistion, Athens
  8. 8. Origins • 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 in wooden posts. • It also serves as a kind of correction to an optical illusion, however.
  9. 9. Entasis • Entasis counteracts the tendency of the eye to reach upward, forcing it to travel up and down the shaft. • Columns that are straight appear thinner in the middle when seen against light, making the supports appear flimsy. • The middle bulge counteracts this. • The upper 2/3 of the shafts to the right are tapered.
  10. 10. Temples - Purpose • Unlike modern churches or mosques, Greek temples were not meant to be meeting places for congregations. • They were homes for the community’s god or goddess and a place to keep offerings • A cult image was centrally located within a naos, or chapel.
  11. 11. Temples - Purpose • In the mild climate of Greece, ceremonies generally took place outdoors. • Even the alter, upon which sacrifices were made, were outside the temple structure.
  12. 12. Temple Forms • Greek temples, like Egyptian ones, tended to follow set patterns, which were regarded as ideal forms. • Variations are few in any given period, tending to reflect the choice of a particular classical order, rather than new and novel design.
  13. 13. The Classical Orders • The three classical orders are: – Doric – Ionic – Corinthian
  14. 14. The Doric Order • Doric columns are the heaviest in appearance • The capital is plain. • The shaft is thick – though it loses some of its mass over time. • There is no base.
  15. 15. The Ionic Order • These have greater elegance. • The capital has distinctive volutes. • The shaft is thinner than its Doric equivalent. • A base is apparent.
  16. 16. The Corinthian Order • This is also a tall, elegant form. • The capital has distinctive acanthus leaf decoration. • A base is also employed.
  17. 17. Parts of a Greek Temple • There are four distinct parts to a greek temple. – The bottom, horizontal part is the steps. Most Greek temples had three of them. – This part is called the stylobate.
  18. 18. Parts of a Greek Temple • The next section is vertical and is the column. – Most columns had a base (though not the Doric), at the bottom, a shaft in the middle, and a capital at the top. – The shaft may be smooth or fluted.
  19. 19. Parts of a Greek Temple • Above the column is the entablature. If the column is the leg, think of this as the tabletop. – It has 3 parts: the architrave, a kind of base. – The frieze, a decorated part – The cornice the top.
  20. 20. Parts of a Greek Temple • The top section is angled and is called the pediment. – The sloping top part is called the sloping cornice. – The triangular part below is called the tympanum. This is often carved and decorated. – Sometimes there are caved features sticking up from the room. These are called antifixae or acroterions.
  21. 21. Plans of Greek Temples • The grandeur and evident expense of a temple can be seen in the number of columns employed. • Simple tempes have blank walls around a naos, or chapel. With an open area or porch in front, called a pronaos, with two or four supporting columns.
  22. 22. Designs of Greek Temples
  23. 23. Designs of Greek Temples • Grander temples, like the Parthenon, had both a front and back porch, as well as a colonnade surrounding the entire structure. • This is called a peripteral temple. Reconstruction of the Parthenon in Nashville.
  24. 24. Designs of Greek Temples
  25. 25. Designs of Greek Temples • Grander still, and generally from the Hellenistic age, are dipteral temples. • They have a double colonnade surrounding them. Artist’s reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis, Ephesus, Turkey
  26. 26. Designs of Greek Temples
  27. 27. Important Structures – The Acropolis • The most famous Greek buildings topped the Athenian Acropolis. • These include: the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Parthenon, and the Erectheum.
  28. 28. The Propylaea • This is the monumental entry point to the acropolis.
  29. 29. Temple of Athena Nike • This is a small temple dedicated to the victorious Athena. • The ratio of height to diameter of the columns is 7:1 and not the 9:1 or 10:1 generally found in Ionic temples.
  30. 30. The Parthenon • This is the most important and perfectly formed temple on the acropolis. • Dedicated to Athena, it housed an enormous cult image.
  31. 31. Parthenon • This building is the culmination of Classical Greek architecture. • Optical refinements are many, and the result is a building reflecting the Greek concept of arete, perfection. Click here to see a NOVA video clip on the Parthenon’s optical refinements.
  32. 32. The Parthenon • One of the Parthenon’s most impressive features was not seen by most worshippers – the great frieze showing the Panathenaic Procession. • The colour of this reconstruction is indicative of what much of the structure would have looked like before being bleached by centuries of Mediterranean sun.
  33. 33. The Erechtheum • This is a complex building of up to four distinct spaces. • It is also built on a slope, so its walls are of differing heights. • It is dedicated to Athena Polias and Poseidon Erechtheus.
  34. 34. The Erechtheum • The most distinctive element of this building is the Porch of the Maidens.
  35. 35. Important Structures – The Great Altar of Pergamum • This Hellenistic building broke completely with traditional style. • The frieze was brought down to the level of outside observers. • The colonnade was raised above it.
  36. 36. The Greek Heritage • Greek architecture had a lasting impact on the world. • The Romans adopted it as an ideal, but modified it to meet their practical needs.
  37. 37. The Greek Heritage • Today, elements of Greek architecture surround us everywhere, from the Doric columns gracing local homes to the great Ionic capitals of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
  38. 38. The Greek Heritage • Greek forms have become an integral part of the vocabulary of world architecture The Supreme Court of the United States
  39. 39. Finis

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