apse: A recess, usually singular and semi-circular, at the east end of a Christian church.
arcade: A series of arches supported by columns or piers.
architrave: The lowest of the three primary divsions of the entablature. The word is loosely appled to any moulding round a door or window and such mouldings do, in fact, most frequently borrow the profile of the architrave in the strict sense.
axonometric projection: Method of demonstrating the construction of a building with measured geometrical drawings in three dimensions.
baluster: An upright, often vase-shaped, support for a rail.
Baroque: A style that flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, characterized by exuberant decoration, curvaceous forms, and a grand scale generating a sense of movement; later developments show greater restraint.
basilica: The early Greek name for a royal palace; a large oblong building with double columns and a semicircular apse at one end, frequently used by Christian emperors of Rome for religious purposes.
beton brut: Used to describe concrete left in its natural state upon removal of formwork; beton brute is literally ‘concrete in the raw’.
cantilever: A beam, or a part of a building supported by such beams, which is supported at one end only, the other end hovering in the air.
capital: The top portion of a column or pilaster.
centring: A timber framework or mould, upon which the masonry of an arch or vault is supported until the key is placed which renders it self-supporting…
cladding: A term used to describe the siding or materials covering the exterior of a building.
clapboard: A long, narrow board with one edge thicker than the other, overlapped to cover the outer walls of frame structures; also known as weatherboard.
Classical: Of or relating to the Classical period of architecture and civilization, i.e., Greek and Roman.
clearstorey: The upper wall of a building pierced by a row of windows.
coffer: From Middle English, coffre, “box;” and Latin cophuinus, “basket.” A recessed box-like panel in a ceiling or vault; usually square but some-times octagonal or lozenge-shaped (see Fig. 63).
collar: A band or molding encircling a shaft. 2. Collar beam.
conversion: Sawing logs parallel to their lengths to reduce them to rectangular cross sections.
coping: A flat cover of stone or brick that protects the top of a wall.
corbel: A block of stone projecting from a wall to support a beam or other weight.
cornice: In classical architecture, the upper, projecting section of an entablature; projecting ornamental molding along the top of a building or wall.
cross vault: A vault formed by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults.
crown post: Any vertical member in a roof truss, especially a king post.
crucks: Also see crutch.
De Stijl: A Dutch gemoetric abstract movement in the arts between 1917 and 1931 which had a lasting effect on the development of modern architecture and industrial design.
dentils: Small rectangular blocks placed in a row, like teeth, as part of a classical cornice.
detail: A graphic representation of a part, usually at larger scale than the design to which it belongs. 2. A part of the whole.
dry joint: A joint without mortar between the stories of a wall.
elevation: One face or side of a building, generally on the exterior.
entablature: The whole assemblage of parts supported by the column. The three primary divisions are architrave, frieze, and cornice. Of these, only the architrave and cornice are subdivided.
entasis: The slight inward curve or taper given to the upper two-thirds of a classical column.
facade: The front, or principal, exterior face of a building; may refer to other prominent exterior faces as well.
faience: A fine pottery glaze adapted to architectural décor.
fascia: A plain horizontal band. A common form of architrave consists of two or three fascieae each slightly oversailing the one below and perhaps separated from it by a narrow molding.
fenestration: From Latin, fenestra, “window.” A general term used to denote the pattern or arrangement of windows.
flying buttress: An inclined bar of masonry carried on a segmental arch and transmitting an outward and downward thrust from a roof or vault to a solid buttress that through its mass transforms the thrust into a vertical one.
formwork: A structure of wood (recently, sometimes of other materials) used to mold the surfaces of a concrete structure to the required shape and removed after the concrete has dried out.
freestone: Stone that is adapted to squaring up for use as a building stone.
frieze: The middle section of a classical entablature between the architrave and the cornice. Also the name of any long, horizontal section at the top of a wall just below the ceiling, or below the eave line if on the exterior.
frog: Indentation on the bed face of a brick to reduce its weight.
gauged brick: Sawn and rubbed, or ground bricks made to precise (or gauged) dimensions. When found in doorway or window arches they are frequently referred to as arch bricks.
geodesic dome: A steel dome having members which follow three principal sets of great circles intersectiong at 60 degrees, subdividing the dome surface into a series of equilateral spherical triangles.
Gothic: An architectural style prevalent in western Europe from the 12th through the 15th century and characterized by pointed arches, rib vaulting, and flying buttresses.
groin vault: Also see groined vault.
hammerbeam: A short roof timber cantilevered out to carry an upright.
hypostyle hall: A large space with a flat roof supported by rows of columns. Prevalent in ancient Egyptian and Achaemenid architecture. 2. A structure whose roofing was supported, within the perimeter, by groups of columns or piers of more than one height; clerestory lights sometimes were introduced.
infill: The nogging in a half-timbered house. 2. A term mainly applied to the insertion of a new building between two existing ones.
inflatable: The term refers to modern lightweight enclosures which are held up by air. There are two main types – those that are held up by inflated ribs and those where the internal air pressure is kept slightly above atmospheric air-pressure in order to support the structure itself. The latter requires an air-lock at entrances.
International Style: A functional architecture devoid of regional characteristics, developed in the 1920s and 1930s in Western Europe and the U.S. and applied throughout the world: characterized by simple geometric forms, large untextured, often white surfaces, large areas of glass, and general use of steel or reinforced concrete construction.
I-section: A section of I-shaped rolled steel used in structural steelwork.
joinery: The craft of connecting members together through the use of various types of joints; differs from carpentry in that the latter involves framing and rough work. Joinery is used extensively in trim work (e.g., doors, panels, etc.) and in cabinet work. Also, through an extension in its meaning, joinery refers to the connecting and securing of the structural members in framing, especially timber framing.
load-bearing: Usually refers to a wall which is supporting other elements in a building (roof, floors, etc.).
loggia: A pillared gallery or porch open on at least one side. Usually an integral part of the building’s mass rather than an appended porch.
machicolation: On castles and fortifications in the middle ages, parapets were often extended out on corbels so that they projected beyond the wall and left an opening through which missiles could be launched at advancing assailants. Later this design was used as a decorative accent on towers. See also castellation and scalloping.
masonry construction: The craft of stone wall building including the preparation and fixing of the stones. Also loosely applied to any form of construction involving the layout of bricks or blocks.
metope: The square space between two triglyphs in the frieze of the Doric order. Often left plain but sometimes decorated with bukrania, trophies, or other ornaments.
Modern Movement: A term referring to the new European architectural style of the early twentieth century. It was characterized by undercorated cuic forms, white render and large windows providing a horizontal emphasis.
mortice and tenon: A joint or connection in wood construction consisting of a squared-off cavity (mortise) made to receive a projection on the end of a piece of wood (tenon).
motte and bailey: A defence system consisting of an earthen mound (often placed within an enclosure bailey).
mullion: The vertical member separating windows, doors, or other panels set in a series.
mushroom column: A colun used in reinforced concrete construction which is flared at the top in order to support the floor slab directly instead of via beams.
nave: The large central volume of a church or cathedral flanked by side aisles. From the Latin navis for ship or naval.
Neo-Gothic: A revival of Gothic forms, such as occurred both in England and the United States in the nineteenth centuries.
neoprene gasket: A section of extruded neoprene (synthetic rubber) into which window glazing is set to give a weatherproof joint.
orders: The five accepted styles of Classical columns and entablatures.
organic: Refers to an architectural expression loosely based on natural organic forms, and related to fundamental physical structures.
oriel window: A projection from an upper floor of an exterior wall surface that contains one or more windows.
pediment: A wide, low-pitched gable surmounting the facade of a building in a classical style; any similar triangular crowning element used over doors, windows and niches.
pendentive: A triangular segment of vaulting used to effect a transition at the angles from a square or polygon base to a dome above.
piano mobile: The main floor of a house containing the principal reception rooms, raised one floor above ground level, with a higher ceiling height than the other floors.
pilaster: The representation in relief of a column against a wall. The pilaster is sometimes considered as the visible part of a square column built into the wall. Pilasters are necessarily ornamental. They have a quasi-structural function, however, when acting as responds, i.e. as the thickening of a wall opposite a column whose entablature carries over to the wall.
pilotis: Column on an unenclosed ground floor carrying a raised building above.
pise de terre: Walling made of cob – an unburnt brick.
pitched roof: Also see gable roof.
plan: A graphic representation of a building as cut by an arbitrary, horizontal plane, although it may include surrounding objects (paths, steps, planting) as seen from above.
plastic: A generic term for materials that may be molded, including those formed by extruding.
podium: A low wall or base serving as a platform for a building.
pointed arch: An arch composed of two curves with radii equal to its span (width).
portico: A place for walking under shelter. The word is usually applied to the columned projection before the entrance to a temple or similar building. Porticos of this kind are described according to the number of frontal columns viz. Tetrastyle (4), Hexastyle (6), Octastyle (8), Decastyle (10) and Dodecastyle (12). Where there are only two columns between pilasters or antae the expression used is Distyle in Antis.
post-and-beam: A simple framing system that used vertical posts and columns to support horizontal beams and rafters.
quoin: The dressed or finished stones at the corners of a masonry building. Sometimes faked in wooden or stucco buildings.
regula: In the Doric entablature, one of a series of short fillets beneath the taenia, each corresponding to a triglyph above. 2. Any long stright piece of lath (either wood or metal) used in ancient Roman construction. 3. A rule used by ancient carpenters and masons for drawing straight lines and making measurements.
Renaissance: The rebirth or revival of the Classical Greek and Roman worlds, their humanism, individual creativity, and, in architecture, the adaptation of the Classical vocabulary to new building types, such as churches and palazzi.
render: To add the finishing stage of a drawing, usually in washes. 2. To make a presentation drawing.
rib: A relatively slender, molded masonry arch that projects from a surface. In Gothic architecture, the ribs form the framework of the vaulting.
Roman arch: Round arch.
Romanesque: A style of European architecture containing both Roman and Byzantine elements, prevalent especially in the 11th and 12th centuries and characterized by thick walls, barrel vaults, and relatively unrefined ornamentation.
roof light: A type of window.
sarsen: A sandstone boulder found on chalk downs.
scotia: A hollow molding, most often seen between the tori in bases of columns.
section: An architectural scale drawing that shows a structure as though cut by a vertical plane; typically used for construction detail.
services: Commonly, mechanical services within a building, such as heating, plumbing, ventilation, power, IT, etc.
set-back: The withdrawal of a building line, usually on upper floor, forming a stepped configuration to the building.
Shingle style: An architectural style characterized by: uniform wall covering of wood shingles, hip or gable roofs with dormer windows, irregular roof line, small-paned windows, no corner boards, and a generally toned down appearance from that found with the Queen Anne style.
shuttering: Wooden boards between which concrete is poured in the construction of a concrete wall or pier and which are removed after the concrete has dried out.
skin: A term referring to the oter “clothing” or membrane of a building – the brick walls, the glass and steel cladding and so on.
space frame: A three-dimensional framework in which all the members are interconnected to act as a single entity. Space frames are used for covering large spaces uninterrupted by supporting columns.
span: The interval between two terminals of a construction. 2. The distance apart of any two consecutive supports, esp. as applied to the opening of an arch. 3. A structural member (or part of a member) between two supports.
string course: A narrow, continuous ornamental band set in the face of a building as a design element; also known as a cordon.
studwork: A frame construction of intermediate horizontal and vertical members, over which wallboards are laid and nailed to the studs.
stylobate: Greek origin stylobates, “column foundation or base.” The upper layer of the stereobate upon which the columns rest.
suspended structure: A structure whereby the floors are hung from a support above, rather than being propped from below.
trabeated: A structure based on post and beam construction as opposed to arched or vaulted construction.
transept: The part of a cruciform church with an axis that crosses the main axis at right angles.
transom: In North America a transom is generally the light above the doorway, also called a fanlight. In Europe, a transom is the horizontal structural member that separates the door from the window above it.
triglyphs: A feature of the frieze of the Doric order, consisting of a vertical element with two sunk vertical channels and two half-channels at the edges. The triglyph is related to the mutule above and to the guttae below. The whole system is a paraphrase in masonry of features deriving from timber construction.
truss: A frame assembled of small members (of wood or metal) in triangular sections; used to span large distances.
tufa: A building stone, of consolidated volcanic material, having a cellular texture, easily cut by bronze tools; used by the ancient Romans, especially for opus quadratum. Volcanic tufa forms the various hills on which Rome stands.
vernacular: A style of architecture exemplifying the commonest building techniques based on the forms and materials of a particular historical period, region, or group of people.
volumetric: A term referring to the three-dimensional spatial qualities of a space.
voussoir: The wedge-shaped stone or brick used to form an arch or vault.
Foster, Michael. The Principles of Architecture: Style, Structure, and Design. Bdd Promotional Book Company, 1990.