Pillar order

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Doric, Ionic and Corinthian column order ( Temple of Poseidon in Paestum , Temple of Athena in Priene and Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, reconstructions partially outdated)

The five classical column orders are the most important system of structure in ancient and modern architecture from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. In terms of building history, the term order always refers to a system of vertical components with a base and capital . It is therefore to be formally separated from pillar or other column constructions .

The common theme of the five pillar orders is the relationship between the pillar and the beams , the mediation and logical relationship between the structural members and their integration into the overall design of a building. The various details developed from this task were also transferred to pillar and arch systems in antiquity , a development that continued to have a fruitful effect in modern times.

According to the understanding of the Renaissance, the five column orders build on each other and represent in their entirety an image of the hierarchically ordered world. However, approaches to this hierarchization - without a world-interpretative view - are already familiar to classical antiquity.

Dissemination of the system of column orders

The architecture of the Greeks, and subsequently also of the Romans, was based on certain rules, which were increasingly condensed into special regulations without ever having been fixed in a binding manner. The basis for this was the landscape styles that were initially linked to the Greek tribes and the areas populated by them, which developed in the course of the 7th and 6th centuries BC. With the Doric and Ionic order . The Doric order was mainly widespread on the Greek mainland and in Greater Greece , but was also found in the rest of the Doric settlement area, especially Rhodes . The name Doric order goes back to the Dorians , one of the Greek tribes, in whose settlement area - large parts of the Peloponnese , Rhodes, Crete and parts of Asia Minor  - the architectural style was mainly developed. In contrast, the Ionic order was particularly widespread in Ionia in Asia Minor , on the Ionian islands of the Aegean Sea and in Attica . The name Ionic order is derived from the Ioni , the older Greek tribe expelled from the original settlement area by the Dorians. In the course of development, this strict landscape connection was lost and both column orders were used throughout the whole of Greek architecture and culture.

The Corinthian order is the youngest of the three architectural styles of ancient Greek architecture . Their development began in 'historical' times towards the end of the 5th century BC. With the 'invention' of the Corinthian capital. Its canonical apparatus of forms, which turned the originally pure column order into a self-contained building code, was not binding until the middle of the 1st century BC. BC before.

Since Marcus Vitruvius Pollio ( Vitruvius ) these three main orders and some secondary orders that arose from them have been distinguished, whereby for Vitruvius the Corinthian order was limited to the formation of columns and capitals, but a canonical entablature structure was not associated with it. The classical column orders are formative for the history of European architecture. In architectural history, the Renaissance and Classicism of the 19th century are the most important phases in which architecture was renewed through a return to the ancient canon.

While these styles were originally only applied to single-storey architectures or in two-storey structures, such as the columns placed on top of each other in some temple interiors, both column positions followed the same order, since Hellenism it has been observed that the arrangement of different column orders over several floors of a building or a facade follows certain rules and an order hierarchy. Since a description of the underlying rules can be found for the first time in Vitruvius, one also speaks of the Vitruvian column order . Nevertheless, the underlying thought is much older and can be traced back to at least the 5th century BC. Trace back to BC. Because the Hellenistic "below - above" of the hierarchy was already preceded by an "inside-outside" in classical buildings. The Corinthian column can initially only be found in the interior of the temple, in particular. Later it appears on the sides of the gateways facing the sanctuary, i.e. in the interior of the sacred area. The interweaving of both aspects finally meets in the Stoa that Attalus II donated to Athens . There the lower outer column position is Doric order, while the inner columns of the hall are Ionic. At the same time, however, the outer half-column pillar gallery on the second floor is also of Ionic order.

The system of column orders was spread in modern times through tracts relating to Vitruvius. The term "column order" itself is borrowed from the Italian ordine and was not used for the architectural styles in antiquity. Vitruvius mostly only speaks of genus (Vitruv III, 6, 15), i.e. the type, or of proportiones of a style (Vitruv IV, 6, 3), the relationships between the structural elements that have to be observed within an order.

The most important treatises of modern times on the classical orders come from Leon Battista Alberti , Sebastiano Serlio , Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola , Vincenzo Scamozzi and Andrea Palladio .

Modern authors on the pillars in Germany were Wendel Dietterlin and Leonhard Christoph Sturm .

The five classic column orders

Capitals of the five orders in a representation from the 18th century.

The five orders are composed of the same types of components, namely pedestal , column (with and without base , column shaft and capital ) and an entablature . If columns of different orders are used in an elevation, they are proportioned according to a common unit of measurement, the lower column shaft diameter, called the module in the tracts . According to the hierarchical structure, the columns must be placed one above the other in the following order (from bottom to top):

While the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders arose in the classical architecture of Greece, the Tuscan and the composite order are an invention of the classical Roman architecture.


The Church of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius in Paris
1st floor Doric columns,
2nd floor Ionic columns,
3rd floor Corinthian columns

The stacking of each floor is called superposition. The arrangement of the columns on top of one another is based on the increasing complexity of the capitals . In the case of three storeys, the lowest colonnade has simple Doric or Tuscan bulge capitals, the middle Ionic volute capitals and the uppermost designed Corinthian or composite chalice capitals.

The columns in the Romanesque and Gothic

Romanesque column row ( Canterbury Cathedral )

In the Romanesque the column order, as it was known from antiquity, is not continued. The massive, thick stone wall is the defining element of Romanesque architecture. Columns are built in much smaller dimensions (see Santa María del Naranco , Oviedo), and when they do, they usually carry arches or arches. The ratio of column diameter to column height is often increased, the columns appear compressed compared to their ancient models. The capitals are sculpturally highly variable. The spectrum ranges from simple cubes, which are rounded to form a pillar, to elaborate sculptures with biblical themes, animals, grimaces.

In the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic there are columns with a well-designed capital and base, mostly they are freely borrowed from the Corinthian order. Bundle pillars, which initially end in front of the column's capital, displace the columns in the High and Late Gothic periods, as they are now brought to the ground.

The development of the column order in the Renaissance

In the Renaissance , the column arrangements became part of the contemporary architecture discussion, which can also be seen in the treatises . Rules are formulated that see the column in a context with the entablature above and also differentiate whether the column is free as a load-bearing element or is integrated into a wall. The column therefore consists of the shaft, the capital and the base, for which the same word is used in the Italian tracts as for feet. The entablature is also divided into three parts (cornice - frieze - architrave), as does the pedestal (di Giorgio and Serlio call this stylobate) on which the column is placed, consists of three parts.

The column order at Alberti

In his main text, Ten Books on Architecture , Alberti (in the seventh book) describes the way in which columns are to be designed, in particular depending on the width to be bridged. So the columns should be narrower when the distances are small. In describing the capitals, he can hardly hide irony when he describes how the ancient Greeks developed the Doric and Ionic capitals. In his further descriptions Alberti gives fixed measurements in feet and often changes in relative sizes. It is his successors who formulate a system from this. He is the first to describe how the entasis is to be constructed with slender columns.

In his buildings, Alberti deviates significantly from the classic models in the design of the capitals. So he invents new forms for the facade of the Palazzo Rucellai .

The order of the columns at Serlio

Serlio describes the column order much more systematically than Alberti. In the fourth book of his Sette Libri d'architettura he arranges the column arrangements, processing information from Vitruvius and Alberti. For the intercolumns (distances between the columns) he gives different information, depending on whether the column is free or integrated into a wall. In his richly illustrated volume, he suggests using the same column order for several floors. However, he achieved more convincing examples if, like his successors, he applied the change of order. He distributes his measurements in his texts.

The order of the columns at Palladio

For Palladio , the columns should be used in such a way that the strongest type of column (the one with the greater ratio of diameter to height) should always be arranged at the bottom. The Doric column should always be placed under the Ionic column, the Ionic under the Corinthian and the Corinthian under the composite.

He also gives information about the intercolumnium, the distance between the columns. If the columns are free, the distance between them is approximately 4 modules (diameter) for the Tuscan order. He increases this distance to 5 1/2 modules for the Doric order and reduces it to 2 modules for the Corinthian and 1 1/2 modules for the composite order. If the columns are integrated into a wall (pilaster strips), the distance is significantly further: in the Tuscan order 6 modules, in the Corinthian 6 1/2 modules.

In some of his buildings, Palladio changes the order of the columns very freely. At Villa Sarego (from 1569) he designed the Ionic column in colossal order. He forms the shaft in studs , which he borrowed from antiquity as a design element.

The column order at Vignola

The five orders, from Vignola's Regole delle cinque ordini d'architettura

Vignola , belonging to the same generation as Palladio, systematizes the column orders as far as possible. In his Regola delle cinque ordini d'architettura (rules of the five orders of architecture) he does not start from the diameter of the column as a module, but from the radius. The column is 2 modules wide. The change to the radius allows him to specify integer ratios for the individual components of the column (capital and base), and he is also able to structure the entablature more easily. Similar to Palladio, his system can be adapted to different regional lengths, as only the dimension for the column radius has to be specified.

His book became part of the training of architects ( Der kleine Vignola ) until the 19th century . There you will find detailed information on the construction of the capitals, bases, entablature, pilaster strips, distances and the formation of the respective entasis for the individual orders.

The order of the columns at Scamozzi

In the last volume of his treatise L'idea della architettura universale , a six-volume work, Vincenzo Scamozzi only briefly describes the proportions and the integration of columns into the facade. Although a pupil of Palladio, he deviates in the proportions. And although it belongs to the generation after Vignola, it does not achieve its systematics.

Comparison of the column proportions in the Renaissance

The following table shows the ratios as moduli for the lower column diameter to the height of the column (including capital and base).

order Alberti di Giorgio Serlio Palladio Vignola Scamozzi
Tuscan k. A. k. A. 1: 7 1: 6.5 1: 7 1: 7.5
Doric 1: 7 1: 7 1: 8 1: 7.5 1: 8 1: 8.5
Ionic 1: 9 1: 8 1: 9 1: 9 1:10 1: 8.75
Corinthian 1: 8 1: 9 1:11 1: 9 1:12 1: 9.75
Composites k. A. k. A. 1:12 1:10 1:12 1:10

The proportions between the column diameter and the base and capital as well as the entablature are shown in Vignola's specifications for the Tuscan order. The base and the capital each receive a module (= radius) for their height. The entablature above is divided into an architrave, frieze and cornice. The architrave receives the height of one module, the frieze a module plus 2/12 module (Vignola divides the module into 12 parts, analogous to the usual foot measurements) and the cornice is a module plus 4/12 module high. As the distances increase upwards, the uppermost parts of the beam should appear the same as the lower ones, and the visual shortening effect should be reduced. Vignola makes similar stipulations for the other orders. The architects listed above specify different proportions for the various components and arrangements.

The column order in classicism and historicism

The creators of classicism referred themselves to their models from antiquity and the Renaissance, they did not seek any changes in the order of the columns. Rather, they varied the integration of the column into the building (e.g. Schinkel in the Altes Museum ). Claude Perrault translated Vitruvius into French and wrote a standard work on the column orders: Ordonnance des cinq espèces des colonnes selon la méthode des anciens (order of the five types of columns according to the method of the ancients). He consistently applied its rules to the facade of the Louvre . Also, Inigo Jones and the circle around Lord Burlington , whose work in architecture Palladian be classified, yet created innovations.

In historicism , new construction techniques and materials ( cast iron and Portland cement ) are developed, but initially this does not lead to a new formal language (“new technology in an old dress”). The neo-renaissance and neoclassical epochs in particular live out their historical models faithfully (e.g. Gottfried Semper's buildings in Dresden ).

The order of the pillars from modernity to the present

The use of steel in architecture since the middle of the 19th century and a little later the new concrete allowed the skeleton structure to emerge as the dominant form of construction. At first it was hardly distinguishable from the column order. In the early modern era ( Art Deco , Art Nouveau , Werkbund ) there are still clear echoes of the classic column order. They were increasingly stylized and freely redesigned until their role models were unrecognizable.

As examples of new forms of column order: Otto Wagner built the Villa Wagner in the style of neo-historicism, he opened up his variant of the classical order in dealing with the fluting of the columns, which he gave only a third of the column height. His light rail pavilion is made of cast iron columns, for which he reformulated the classic column order. The crematorium in the Pragfriedhof in Stuttgart also has clear echoes of the classic column order. Heinrich Tessenow placed pillars in free Tuscan order instead of pillars at the Festspielhaus in Hellerau. On the facade of the Elisabethhalle in Aachen, pillars structure the window front and thus create an arrangement of console and eaves. At the Hackesche Höfe in Berlin, the pillars are used as pilasters and the eaves suggest an entablature. At the Hebbel-Theater , also in Berlin, it is integrated with an implied entablature. At the Hope Church in Pankow, the entablature consists of a simple frieze. At Spitalgasse 19 (Coburg) , artfully structured columns with cornices are integrated into the facade. At the Prinzregententheater in Munich, the pillars of the entrance have lion heads instead of the triglyphs , the motif can be found in various places in the building. Fritz Höger built partly true to the order of the columns, but increasingly used brick, for example at the Klöpperhaus in Hamburg. At the Chilehaus he reformulated the order of the columns in an expressionist manner. Fritz Schumacher also redesigned the order of the columns in bricks, for example in the design for the Emil-Krause-Gymnasium in Hamburg- Dulsberg , where the Tuscan order can still be guessed at.

At Casa Batlló , Antonio Gaudi expanded the classic column arrangement in the most innovative way. The entablature above the columns is divided into gables and nestles up the facade in organic forms in statically optimized lines. At Gaudi, the columns are also seen more as sculptures and are being artfully developed. In his design for the Sagrada Familia, he finally broke away from the classic order and only used columns at an angle, which follow the chain lines for static and artistic optimization .

The pillars are revived during fascism and the Nazi era . In 1926 , Marcello Piacentini propagated his own column order by attaching bundles of rods and ax blades to the 14 columns of the Bolzano victory monument and establishing the bundle of lictors as a fascist symbol of rule. Speer reformulated the pillars at the Reich Chancellery . In the garden front, the columns were given simple bases (based on the Ionic order), and the capitals were stylized in flat relief and seem to be borrowed from the Corinthian order. But mostly the bases and capitals were reduced to simple plinths , the shafts made smooth without fluting or entasis. The entablature was usually reduced to its cuboid shape or stylized excessively, as in the Haus der Kunst in Munich or the entrance front in the Germania design of the “Hall of the People”.

It was not until postmodernism that the column order was used again: Charles Willard Moore (1925–1993) created a cheerful revival of the Renaissance and the column order in New Orleans with the Piazza d'Italia . Rob Krier reinterpreted in his Cité Judiciaire (in Luxembourg from 1992) by compressing the Tuscan pilaster strips and also simplifying the entablature and designing the cornice and the frieze. Ricardo Bofill and Paolo Portoghesi acted in a similar way.

Further column orders

  • While classical Greek and Roman architecture only knows orders that adhere to the floors, even with more storey buildings, columns and half-columns begin to overlap larger sections from the Renaissance onwards . This design element is known as the colossal order .
  • In the Romanesque period , the columns are sometimes formed with a significantly larger diameter. Detached from the classical order, a multitude of capital forms emerged that were handed down to the Gothic.
  • In the Gothic , especially in the High and Late Gothic, the column orders are replaced by services .
  • A baroque variant of the Ionic order is also called the German column order .
  • Spirally twisted column shafts were already known in Constantinian times. In the architectural theory of the 16th century, a so-called Solomonic column order appears (→ Weblink), but it was Gianlorenzo Bernini who, in 1624, with the canopy resting on four rotated columns over the Peter's grave in St. Peter's Basilica, initiated the extensive development of the Solomonic Columns , which reached its peak in (colonial) Spanish churriguerism .
  • Liang Sicheng speaks of a " Chinese column order" of the classic East Asian wooden skeleton construction .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Raymond Oursel, Henri Stierlin: Romanik , Berlin (no year, no ISBN)
    Henri Stierlin: Enzyklopädie der Weltarchitektur , Cologne 1994, ISBN 3-8228-8925-3 , p. 121 ff
  2. ^ Leon Battisti Alberti: Ten books on architecture. Darmstadt 1975, ISBN 3-534-07171-9 .
  3. z. B. Book IV Chapter 6, Fol. 30
  4. Andrea Palladio: Quattro Libri. Book 1, chapter 12.
  5. Andrea Palladio: Quattro Libri. Book 1, chapters 13-18.
  6. ^ Lionello Puppi: Andrea Palladio. Munich 1982, ISBN 3-423-02881-5 , p. 216 ff.
  7. ^ Vignola: Regola delle cinque ordini d'achtettura. P. 11 ff.
  8. Vincenzo Scamozzi: L'idea della architettura universale. 6 books published in Venice in 1615. Bologna 1982.
  9. Ordonnance for the five kinds of columns after the methods of the ancients ( Ordonnance des cinq espèces de columns selon la méthode des anciens ). Getty Center for the history of art and humanities, Santa Monica, Calif. 1993, ISBN 0-89236-232-4 (repr. Of the Paris 1683 edition).
  10. Sabrina Michielli, Hannes Obermair (Red.): BZ '18 –'45: one monument, one city, two dictatorships. Accompanying volume for the documentation exhibition in the Bolzano Victory Monument . Folio Verlag, Vienna-Bozen 2016, ISBN 978-3-85256-713-6 , p. 89 and 95 (with ill.) .
  11. ^ Wilma Fairbank (ed.), Liang Szŭ-ch‛êng [= Liang Sicheng]: Chinese Architecture. A Pictorial History . Reprint: Dover, 2005; ISBN xxx; P. 10, 73 and passim.