Doric order

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The Doric order (or in Greek Δωρικός ρυθμός) was one of the three orders or organizational systems of Ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.



In their original Greek version, Doric columns stood directly on the flat pavement (the stylobate) of a temple without a base; their vertical shafts were fluted with 20 parallel concave grooves; and they were topped by a smooth capital that flared from the column to meet a square abacus at the intersection with the horizontal beam (entablature) that they carried.

Pronounced features of both Greek and Roman versions of the Doric order are the alternating triglyphs and metopes. The triglyphs are decoratively grooved with three vertical grooves (tri-glyph) and represent the original wooden end-beams, which rest on the plain architrave that occupies the lower half of the entablature. Under each triglyph are peglike stagons or guttae (literally: drops) that appear as if they were hammered in from below to stabilize the post-and-beam (trabeated) construction. They also served to "organize" rainwater runoff from above. A triglyph is centered above every column, with another (or sometimes two) between columns, though the Greeks felt that the corner triglyph should form the corner of the entablature, creating an inharmonious mismatch with the supporting column. The spaces between the triglyphs are the metopes. They may be left plain, or they may be carved in low relief.

The architecture followed rules of harmony. Since the original design came from wooden temples and the triglyphs were real heads of wooden beams, every column had to bear a beam which lay in the middle of the column. Triglyphs were arranged regularly; the last triglyph met the mid of the last column (illustration, right: I.). This was regarded as the ideal solution which had to be reached.

Changing to stone cubes instead of wooden beams required full support of the architrave load at the last column. At the first temples the final triglyph was moved (illustration, right: II.), still terminating the sequence, but leaving a gap disturbing the regular order. Even worse, the last triglyph was not centered with the corresponding column. That “archaic” manner was not regarded as a harmonious design. The resulting problem is called The doric corner conflict. Another approach was to apply a broader corner triglyph (III.) but was not really satisfying.

Because the metopes are somewhat flexible in their proportions, the modular space between columns (“intercolumniation”) can be adjusted by the architect. Often the last two columns were set slightly closer together (corner contraction), to give a subtle visual strengthening to the corners. That is called the “classic” solution of the corner conflict (IV.). Triglyphs could be arranged in a harmonic manner again, and the corner was terminated with a triglyph. However, final triglyph and column were often not centered.

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