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Architectural Detail: Columns
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Architectural Detail: Columns

If you visualize the buildings of ancient Greece what do you see? How about most government building especially those in our nation's capitol?

The architectural detail that holds those buildings and roofs up is called a column. Columns or pillars were used in ancient Greece and later ancient Rome and were a part of one of the very first architectural movements. Classical architecture is all about columns also known as pillars. The significance of such a simple architectural detail is such that it has inspired generations of architects. Classical architecture elements are used to day to instill a feeling of permanence to the buildings they are used on.

So what makes a column or pillar an architectural detail. First is has to be more than just a pole that protrudes from the ground holding up the ceiling or roof above it. Just like there is a difference between a building and architecture there is a difference between and post and a column. Posts basically just hold things in the air they are used to form the bones of a building normally. There is little to no ornamentation as their primary function is to be a support they really don't have a secondary function.

A column has functional and decorative purpose. It holds up the building but does so in style. Columns customarily follow the classic orders though there are some that are designed specifically for a company or home. All classically designed or inspired columns have the same parts. They consist of the capital, the shaft and the base.

As you could probably guess the base is the very bottom of the column and as such has very little decoration if it even exists sometimes the shaft just protrudes from the ground without the use of a base at all.

The shaft of the column is the main part. Customarily with the classical orders it is fluted. By this we are referring to the grooves that run vertically on the column's facade. The shaft can be fluted, smooth or even spiraled which is the case with Solomonic columns. The Greeks weren't the only civilization to use columns and if you research you will find that there are column types outside of the classical orders which may or may not follow the same standards.

At the top of the column is the capital. It customarily has the most ornamentation. This makes sense if you think about the fact that most people when experiencing architecture look up. The classical orders fall into three categories each with their own style and traits.

Think about using these if you feel that your house needs a little more curb appeal or if you want to inject some classical style into your home.


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