Architectural Glossary

These are some common Architectural Terms that should help you understand the buildings you are looking at a little better. If you come across terms that need to be added into this glossary or better explanations, please add them to the comments.

Architectural Terms

Doors and Windows;

Broken Pediment; Broken pediment means the raking (top) cornice is left open at the apex.
Open Pediment; The open pediment is open along the base
Double Hung Sash Window Double-hung refers to two panes that share the same frame and operate independently of one another.
Dressed stone windowsill  Prepared and carved stone around the windowsill
Oriel window An oriel window is a window projecting from the outer face of a wall, in plan semi- hexagonal, semi-octagonal, or rectangular, thus having three or more sides, divided by mullions and transoms into different bays and other projections, and supported by brackets or corbels. A projecting window rising from the ground is sometimes called an oriel window, but is more properly a bay window.
Equilateral arch This is a common “pointed” arch. It has curves with two centres. The left curve is an arc of a circle centred on the right springer while the right curve is an arc of a circle centred on the left springer.
Flat Arch A straight horizontal arch consisting of mutually supportive wedge-shaped blocks.
Segmented Arch An arch that is less than half a semi circle
Frieze A horizontal band of ornament on buildings, sometime carved with sculpture. Often above the architrave and below the cornice
Pilastered door Case Pilasters (a column with the appearance that it is embedded into the wall) around door, sometimes with a pediment above
Casement window A window hinged vertically to open like a door
Lancet Window A window formed as one or more slender arch
Crittall windows Type of steel window frames that are hot tipped galvanized to prevent corosion



Crested Ridge A decorative ridge that first became popular in the Victorian era
Pan Tile A roof tile with a curved s-shape designed to interlock
Half Hip Roof A half hip roof is a combination of gable and hip roof styles in which a hip roof plane builds upward from a partial gable wall.
Cross Gable A Gable that is set Parallel to the ridge
Laced Valley A valley formed by interweaving slate, eg. Collyweston slate
Decorative bargeboard
Cupola A structure that crowns a roof or turret
Finial A carved decoration at the top of a gable, spire or arched structure
Bellcote A structure on top of the roof that houses bell/ bells
Mansard Roof A roof with a double slope, the lower slope has a steeper pitch.
Pediment A low pitched gable above a portico
Kneeler A large approximately triangular stone at the foot of a gable, cut to have a horizontal bed and a top conforming, wholly or in part, to the slope of the gable.


Dentil Course Usually at the eaves, refers to a cornice made up of small square blocks
Dog tooth Course Bricks lad at 45 angle to the other courses. Decorative for corbelling out at eaves
Corbel In architecture a corbel is a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry any extra weight. The technique of corbelling, where rows of corbels deeply keyed inside a wall support a projecting wall or parapet
Console bracket Is type of bracket or corbel, particularly one with a scroll-shaped profile
Corbelled brick string Projecting String course supported by a range of Corbels
Soldier course a course of bricks laid with the long sides upright
Drip Stone A protective drip made of stone, as on a cornice over a door or window. Sometimes called a hood mould.
Springer stone The bottom stone of an arch, which lies on the impost
Eaves Cornice A projecting decorative moulding found along the top of a building
Polychromatic brick work Made from a range of different coloured brick in decorative features ranging from simple band courses of contrasting colour to complex patterns.
Coping Coping (architecture) consists of the capping or coveringof a wall
Castellation Furnished with battlements in the style of a castle
Pargeting decoration in relief of the plastering between the studwork on the outside of half-timber houses, or sometimes covering the whole wall
Stucco Textured render, appearance like stone
Parapet Wall-like barrier at the edge of a roof, terrace, balcony or other structure. It extends above the roof.
Anchor plate An anchor plate or wall washer is a large plate or washer connected to a tie rod or bolt
Tie bar A round tie bar is inserted right through the house from one side to the other and the large washer and nut screwed on at each end
Patress Plate Round wall tie


Signage / Shop front

Fascia The boarding where usually the shop name and logo goes
Beading The frame around a sign

Classical Influences

The English architect Indigo Jones was the, founder of the English school of classical architecture. Although Jones’ work often lacks originality, he was an important figure in architecture because he was the first person to introduce the classical architecture ofRomeand the Italian Renaissance to Gothic England.

This period in architecture saw lots of new different Architectural features.

Pedimented Bay A projecting part of the building with a pediment; triangular space at end of gable, especially ornamented.
Raised Basement Popular in the classical style, allows light into the basement so that it is a usable space, but maintains a felling of below street level.
Quoins The term is commonly applied to one of the selected pieces of material by which the corner is marked.
Rusticated Quoins Are masonry cut to appear strong, often by having deeply cut joints or a deliberately roughened stone finish
Raised Quoins If the quoins project above the surface of the adjacent wall they are described as raised.
Moulded Cornice Moulded horizontal detailing across the building
Portico (from Italian) is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, with a roof structure supported by columns or enclosed by a wall.
Volute A volute is a spiral scroll-like ornament that forms the basis of the Ionic order, found in the capital of the Ionic column

All classical architecture of the Greco-Roman tradition is composed or written in one language or form. These can be distinguished between.

Orders are never applied after the building is designed, as they are generative.

Over time 5 orders have been developed;

– The Tuscan Order

– The Doric Order

– The Ionic Order

– The Corinthian Order

– The Composite Order

Roman Orders; – Tuscan
– Composite
Greek Orders; – Doric
– Ionic
– Corinthian

The Doric column, has a height that is only four to eight times its diameter, this makes it the most squat of the columns. It appears on lower floors of buildings as it has more weight to support. The Doric order is much plainer and has little decoration. It is thought to be the masculine order. The shaft of the Doric order is channeled with 20 flutes. It has plain round capitals and no base. The echinus is convex and the abacus is square.

Ionic, order this is decorated with two opposed volutes at the capital. The column is slender with a long base. They are slightly slimmer that the Doric order. It has a 24 fluted shaft.

Corinthian order, this is the feminine order, with a slimmer taller appearance. The capital is much more decorated that the other 2, it is characterised by an ornate fluted capital with 2 rows of acanthus leaves. This also has 24 flutes on the shaft.

The roman orders are adapted from the Greek orders.

Tuscan order is The Tuscan order has a very plain design, with a plain shaft, and a simple capital, base, and frieze. It is a simplified adaptation of the Doric order by the Romans. The Tuscan order is characterized by an unfluted shaft and a capital that only consist of an echinus and an abacus. In proportions it is similar to the Doric order, but overall it is significantly plainer. The column is normally seven diameters high. Compared to the other orders, the Tuscan order looks the most solid.

The Composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the Ionic with the leaves of the Corinthian order. Until the Renaissance it was not ranked as a separate order. Instead it was considered as a late Roman form of the Corinthian order. The column of the Composite order is ten diameters high.



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