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Melgrand Architectural Terms

See below for an explanation of fine art terminology used in Architecture, history and practice.


A flat slab forming the uppermost member or division of the capital of a column.


Subsidiary space alongside the body of a building, separated from it by columns, piers, or posts.


Vaulted semicircular or polygonal end of a chancel or chapel. That portion of a church, usually Christian, beyond the "crossing" and opposite the nave. In some churches, the choir is seated in this space.


Passage or walkway covered over by a succession of arches or vaults supported by columns. Blind arcade or arcading: the same applied to the wall surface.


A curved structure capable of spanning a space while supporting significant weight.


Formalized lintel, the lowest member of the classical entablature.


Sharp edge where two surfaces meet at an angle such as the corner of a square column or shaft.


Articulation is the manner of describing parts such that each part is clear and distinct in relation to the others.


Masonry of large blocks cut with even faces and square edges.


Small top story within a roof above the uppermost ceiling.


A small moulded shaft, square or circular, supporting the coping of a parapet or the handrail of a staircase.


A series of balusters supporting a handrail or coping is called a balustrade.


A board fastened to the projecting gables of a roof.

Barrel vault

An architectural ceiling element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance.


Lowest, subordinate storey of building often either entirely or partially below ground level.


Originally a Roman, large roofed hall erected for transacting business and legal matters.


Internal compartments of a building, divided by columns or vault design.

Bay window

Window of one or more storeys projecting from the face of a building.

Bond brickwork

Brickwork with overlapping bricks. Types of bond include stretcher, English, header, Flemish.


An ornamental projection, a carved keystone of a ribbed vault at the intersection of the ogives.


Weight-bearing member made of wood, stone, or metal that overhangs a wall.


Vertical member projecting from a wall to stabilize it or to resist the lateral thrust of an arch, roof, or vault.


An unsupported overhang acting as a lever, like a flagpole sticking out of the side of a wall.


The topmost member of a column (or pilaster).

Casement window

Window hung vertically, hinged one side, so that it swings inward or outward.


A structure which provides ventilation.


Upper part of the nave of a large church, containing a series of windows.


A coffer, in architecture, is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon, usually in a ceiling or vault.


A structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below.


The capping or covering of a wall.


A structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight.

Corinthian order

One of the three orders of classical architecture characterised by columns, their vertical shafts fluted with parallel concave grooves topped by a capital decorated with acanthus leaves.


Upper section of an entablature, a projecting shelf along the top of a wall often supported by brackets or corbels.


A small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building.


A small block used as a repeating ornament in the bedmould of a cornice.

Doric order

One of the three orders classical architecture characterised by columns, their vertical shafts fluted with parallel concave grooves topped by a smooth capital.


A structural element of a building that protrudes from the plane of a sloping roof surface.

Dutch gable

A gable whose sides have a shape made up of one or more curves and has a pediment at the top.

The underside of a roof projection over building walls.

A superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals.


The application of a subtle convex curve to a surface for aesthetic purposes.


An exterior side of a building, usually the front.


Window, semicircular or semi-elliptical in shape, with glazing bars or tracery sets radiating out like an open fan.


Horizontal board attached to the lower end of rafters at the eaves.

Flying buttress

A type of buttress that transmits the thrust to a heavy abutment by means of a half-arch.


An architectural device based on a symmetrical rendering of leaf shapes, defined by overlapping circles.


A triangular portion of an end wall between the edges of a sloping roof.

Gauged brickwork

Brickwork constructed of soft bricks rubbed to achieve a fine smooth finish with narrow joints between courses.

Hip roof

A type of roof where all sides slope downwards from the ridge to the eaves.

Ionic order

One of the three orders of classical architecture characterised by columns, their vertical shafts fluted topped by a capital with volutes.


The architectural piece at the crown of a vault or arch and marks its apex, locking the other pieces into position.


An ornamental, lattice framework consisting of small strips in a criss-crossed pattern.


The openings in a window between mullions and muntins through which light enters an interior space.


A horizontal block that spans the space between two supports usually over an opening such as a window or door.


A gallery formed by a colonnade open on one or more sides. The space is often located on an upper floor of a building overlooking an open court or garden.


A small window or opening into unoccupied attic or spire space.

Mansard roof

A hip roof in which each face has two slopes, the lower one steeper than the upper.


Enriched block or horizontal bracket generally found under the cornice of the Corinthian entablature.


Decorative finishing strip.


Vertical bar of wood, metal or stone which separates two or more windows in a series.


A vertical or horizontal piece that divides a pane of glass into two or more panes or lights in a window.


Rectangular block under the soffit of the cornice of the Greek Doric temple, which is studded with guttae.


An enclosed passage between the main entrance and the nave of a church.


The main body of a church where the congregants are usually seated. It provides the central approach to the high altar.


The central supporting pillar of a spiral staircase


In classical architecture is an exedra or an apse that has been reduced in size, retaining the half-dome heading usual for an apse.


A circular opening in the center of a dome such as the one in the roof of the Pantheon in Rome or in a wall.


A term for a standard arrangement of architectural features.


Is a wall covering constructed from rigid or semi-rigid components.


A low wall built up above the level of a roof, to hide the roof.

Patera, Paterae

Small circular or oval ornamental disc.


A free standing structure near the main building or an ending structure on building wings.

Pedestal (also Plinth)

The base or support on which a statue, obelisk, or column is mounted.


In classic architecture the triangular-shaped portion of the wall above the cornice which formed the termination of the roof behind it.


Three-dimensional spandrels supporting the weight of a dome over a square or rectangular base.

Piano nobile

The principal floor of a large house, built in the style of renaissance architecture.


An upright support for a superstructure, such as an arch or bridge.


A slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall.


The base or platform upon which a column, pedestal, statue, monument or structure rests.


A porch-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building through which a motor vehicle can pass.


A series of columns or arches in front of a building, generally as a covered walkway.


The cornerstones of brick or stone walls. Quoins are also common in some brickwork corners that are alternately recessed and expressed.


Receding edge of a flat face. On a flat signboard, for example, the return is the edge which makes up the board's depth.


Rib vault

Vault built around several structural ribs.


A large and high circular hall or room in a building, usually but not always, surmounted by a dome.


The horizontal and vertical frame that encloses the glazing of a window. A sash may be fixed or operable and may be of several different types depending on operation (i.e. casement, single or double hung, awning, hopper or sliding).


Ornamental element featuring a sequence of spiraled, circled or heart shaped motifs.


A tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a building.


The lowest voussoir on each side of an arch.

Trabeated arch

A simple construction method using a lintel, or architrave as the horizontal member supported by two vertical columns.


The stonework elements that support the glass in a Gothic window.


Window or element, fixed or operable, above a door but within its vertical frame.


A structural component made of straight wood or metal members, usually in a triangular pattern.


Triangular space enclosed between the horizontal cornice of the entablature and the sloping cornice of the pediment.


A spiral, scroll-like ornament that forms the basis of the Ionic order.


A wedge-shaped or tapered stone between the springer and the keystone used to construct an arch.

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