You might have heard the expression classic architecture, but what does it mean? How can modern building be built in the classical way? In this blog we try to answer these and other questions about classic architecture, and throw some light on the terminology used. Classic architecture strictly refers to architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, dating from the 5th Century BC in Greece and the 3rd Century BC in Rome.
Classic Architecture in Rome
Roman architecture of the period emphasized the pediment and column, whilst the Greek was mainly based on the post and beam system. This system relied on decorative columns carrying the weight of the load, most of this architecture was built in stone and marble. Classic types of classical architecture started appearing, Doric, Ionic, Hellenistic, Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite.
Doric style was austere and simple, and used many columns and capitals. The column is made up of a main shaft with a base and at the top a capital. This then supports the horizontal part of the building which is the entablature.
The Ionic style is easy to spot, as at the top of the column were decorative twin volutes which look like spiral scrolls. This style was developed on the eastern Greek mainland and was mainly utilized in temples and the interior of buildings.
The Hellenistic period was mainly enjoyed by the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean shortly after the reign of Alexander the Great. This period of architecture lasted for almost three hundred years and the style was highly ornate, and the huge buildings were richly decorated. The landscape also changed during the Hellenistic period with new realms being created by the vacuum caused by the demise of Alexander, namely Ptolemaic, Seleucid and Macedonian.
A great many of the Corinthian style buildings were not religious, the great civic architecture of the time was for secular buildings. The Romans also were using this Greek style of construction, but made two additions which were Tuscan and Composite.
At the time the Romans used columns for their functionality and also for decorative purposes, whilst keeping to symmetry they also utilized spatial forms. Roman temples were situated with other buildings in mind, thus they fitted into the urban design. Their columns also used arches and entablatures which gave far more freedom of design and space. When the early forms of concrete was discovered, the design of Roman architecture and buildings went to another level with domes, vaults and fantastic arches. This all contributed to fabulous buildings, such as amphitheatres, basilicas, baths and triumphal arches, that we all respect as classical Roman architecture.
These Greek and Roman styles of buildings are what made up the Classical architecture period, as it progressed it moved from Doric to Corinthian with everything in between. The term classical architecture may also have reference to later periods in history that used the same forms and styles that the Greeks and Romans did. The classic period was instrumental for the building of many grand and opulent buildings centuries after, if it were not for this period then many civic, religious and ceremonial buildings would not command the majesty they were intended for.