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Greek Architecture

Date. 29th May 2021


Ancient Greek Architecture is best known from its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, and the Parthenon is a prime example of this, mostly as ruins but many substantially intact. The second important type of building that survives all over the Hellenic world is the open-air theatre, with the earliest dating from around 525–480 BC. Other architectural forms that are still in evidence are the processional gateway.

The heart of ancient Greek architecture were the Classical orders. There are three basics style of architecture.

Here are the following




These styles are determined by the style of columns, the form of structure and the decoration that followed on from them. The styles developed one after another, but each stemmed, initially, from a different part of Greece philosophy.

The capitals of Greek columns were representations of natural forms, as in the rams' horns of the Ionic style or the stylised acanthus leave of the Corinthian style.

Elements of Greek Architecture

Greek architecture has followed a highly structured system of proportions that related individual architectural components to the whole building. This system was developed according to three styles, or orders.

Each order consists of an upright support called a column that extends from a base at the bottom to a shaft in the middle and a capital at the top -much like the feet, body and head of the human figure. The capital was often a stylised representation of natural forms, such as animal horns or plant leaves. It, in turn, supports a horizontal element called the entablature, which is divided further into three parts.

Architrave. Lowest

Frieze. Middle

Cornice. Top part

These elements were further elaborated with decorative moulding and ornamentation. Each component of a classical order was sized and arranged according to an overall proportioning system based on the height and diameter of the columns.

The Greeks first constructed their order with wood and then transferred them with materials such as marble, stone and using the same shapes. The ends of the wooden beams holding up the roof, for example, were translated into stone, marbles as a decorative element, called a triglyph, three grooves, in the entablature above the column capital.

The Greeks began by using only one order per building, but after a few hundred years of development, they became more creative and sometimes used one order for the exterior and another for the interior. The proportions of the orders also became lighter and more refined.


The oldest, simplest, and most massive of the three Greek orders is the Doric, which was applied to temples beginning in the seventh century BC. The columns are placed close together and are often without bases. Their shafts are sculpted with concave curves called flutes. The capitals are plain with a rounded section at the bottom, known as the echinus, and a square at the top, called the abacus.

The entablature has a distinctive frieze decorated with vertical channels, or triglyphs. In between the triglyphs are spaces, called metopes, that were commonly sculpted with figures and ornamentation.

The frieze is separated from the architrave by a narrow band called the regular. Together, these elements formed a rectangular structure surrounded by a double row of columns that conveyed a bold unity. Some argue that the Doric order reached its pinnacle of perfection in the Parthenon / Athens built between 447-432 BC, by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates.


The Ionic order. Called Ionic, because of its development on the Ionian islands West and South of mainland Greece in the sixth century BC. Roman historian, architect and engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio 80/70 BC died after 15 BC, perhaps best known for his multi-volume work entitled De Architectura compared this delicate order to a female form, in contrast to the stockier male Doric order.

The Ionic order was used for smaller buildings and interiors. It is easy to recognise because of the two scrolls, called volutes, on its capital. It has been suggested that the volutes may have been based on nautilus shells, animal horns, e.g. the Minotaur of ancient Greek mythology or even the female fallopian tubes, giving weight to Vitruvis' ideas on the Ionic order being a female form.

Between the volutes is a curved section that is often carved with oval decoration known as eggs and darts. Above the capital, the entablature is narrower than the Doric, with a frieze containing a continuous band of sculpture. One of the earliest and most striking examples of Ionic order is the Temple to Athena Nike at the entrance to the Athens Acropolis. It was designed by Callicrates from about 448-421 BC.


The Corinthian order is similar to the Ionic order in its base, column, and entablature, but its capital is far more ornate, carved with two tiers of curly acanthus leaves.

The Corinthian order is named after the city of Corinth located about 78 km/48 miles southwest of Athens. According to Vitruvius, it is Corinth where the capital was created by the sculptor Callimachus working in the second half of the fifth century BC, who invented it after spotting a votive basket surrounded by leaves. In fact, the oldest known Corinthian capital was found inside the temples of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, 427 BC.

It is sometimes called the feminine order because it is used on the top level of the Colosseum in Rome, therefore holding up the least amount of weight. The Corinthian order has the slenderest column in terms of width to height ratio of all the classical orders at about 10:1.


The concept of structural engineering is an essential discipline in construction industry Structural engineers are the persons that is responsible for ensuring all materials used in a structure follow certain standard crucial for the overall construction. From the type of the reinforcing bars, the strength of concrete, roof types and members, overall aesthetics required for the project. They promote economic materials without compromising quality. They ensure function and safety without increasing any unnecessary costs.

Finally, be aware that whilst the engineer may have been around for some time. Ensure that the structural engineer or company you employed should have the necessary experience. So, scrutinise the individual structural engineer as well as the overall company.

Greek Architecture
Jewel Cameron Sign


Construction- Quantity Surveyor- Valuer/ Appraiser. Project Management

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