Friday, March 7, 2014

Architectural Word of the Day; 51 - 60


The representation of a human or at least partially human face, often caricatured or grotesque.
Historically utilized as a means of warding away evil spirits, ‘mascarons’ or ‘masks’ represent some of the most delightful, personal and playful expressions of ornamentation.


‘Acanthus’, both the spinosus (thorny) and mollis (smooth), are herbaceous plants native to the shores of the Mediterranean. Their leaves are one of the most utilized for stylization of foliage in Classical Architecture.

For the ancient Greeks the acanthus came to symbolize death, re-birth, immortality. The first know use of the Corinthian column, prominently featuring the acanthus leaf in its capital, was at the Temple of Apollo Epicurius in Arcadia, circa 450 B.C.E.

Courtesy of Plâtres Vieujot


An advancement in groin vault design reached dizzying heights of articulation in the Gothic cathedrals of the late Medieval period. Stone ‘ribs’ gave increased support to the vaults, allowing clerestory windows to be placed higher and enlarged resulting in increased light into the interior.  

Courtesy of Vicat

A thin, decorative column having a cylindrical shaft.


‘Mashrabiya’ can refer to a geometrically ornamented window screen of traditional Islamic architecture or the entire oriel window balcony that contain such screens. Mashrabiyas allows for the passage of air and light while providing a level of privacy.

Courtesy of Plâtres Vieujot


‘Atlas’ was the Greek Titan who had to hold up the sky as punishment from Zeus. ‘Atlante’ was the Titan’s Roman name whereas ‘Telamon’ was a companion of Jason from the legend of the Argonauts.

These titles are used interchangeably for the strained male figures that hold up the weight of a building in the place of columns or corbels.


Meaning “between the antae”. In temple architecture they occasionally are used to terminate the portico, framing the entry.


Plural of ANTA, antae are engaged piers that terminate either side of a colonnade. Antae do not have entasis or diminution and typically have a unique capital not associated with the main order.

Contributed by Patrick Webb

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