Architecture / Design / Principle

  • abstract: Of or pertaining to shapes and forms having an intellectual and affective content dependent solely on their intrinsic lines, colors, and relationship to one another. 2. Thought of without reference to concrete reality or a particular instance.
  • abstraction: Omission or severe simplification of details in drawings of a building or landscape, leaving essentials of massing, form, and solids, so that the basis of a design can be explained.
  • accessory: Aesthetically enhancing element in a composition, inessential (unlike an accompaniment to a building’s use or character).
  • accident: A fortuitous circumstance, quality, or characteristic.
  • aesthetics: The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art. Also, esthetics.
  • Beautiful: One of three 18th century aesthetic categories, with the Picturesque and the Sublime…
  • beauty: The aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives intense pleasure to the senses or deep satisfaction to the mind or spirit, whether arising from harmony of form or color, excellence of craft, truthfulness, originality, or other, often unspecifiable property.
  • esthetics: The science and philosophy of beauty.
  • Sublime: An 18th century aesthetic category concerned with aspects of Nature and Art (e.g. ruggedness, vastness, overwhelming grandeur, etc., emphasizing Man’s relative insignificance in the face of Nature) affecting the mind with an intense sense of irresistible power, terror, and awe, inspiring lofty emotions, and stimulating the imagination. It was therefore distinct from the Beautiful and the Picturesque (though some have seen the latter as a synthesis of the Beautiful and the Sublime), and was of profound importance in relation to an appreciation of the visceral violence of natural phenomena and rugged, mountainous scenery, with massive waterfalls, etc…
  • algorithmic design: Method of designing in a prescribed set of computational procedures for solving problems. Known as a/d, it can be a set of equations or a series of mechanical processes (e.g. analog or digital). The algorithms are in essence instructions or patterns for the efficient completion of a task, so a/d involves steps taken in code to reach a result.
  • all’antica: Based on antique models.
  • alternative: One of the propositions or courses of action to be chosen from a set of two or more mutually exclusive possibilities.
  • ambiance: The mood, character, or atmosphere of an environment or milieu. Also, ambience.
  • ambiguity: The state or quality of being susceptible to uncertainty of meaning or multiple interpretation.
  • amenity: Any feature that provides or increases comfort, convenience, or pleasure.
  • analogy: A similarity in some particulars between things otherwise dissimilar: specifically, a logical inference based on the assumption that if two things are known to be alike in some respects, then they will probably be alike in other respects.
  • applied: Made separately and applied later.
  • architectonic: Having the constructive characteristic of architecture.
  • architectonical: Having the constructive characteristic of architecture.
  • architectural: Pertaining to architecture, its features, characteristics, or details. 2. Pertaining to materials used to build or ornament a structure, such as mosaic, bronze, etc.
  • architecture: The art and science of designing and constructing buildings adapted to their purposes, one of which is beauty. 2. The products of architecture.
  • architecture parlent: Literally, “speaking architecture.” First used in 18th-century France to describe an architecture that clearly expressed its functional purpose.
  • anomaly: A deviation from the normal or expected form, order, or arrangement.
  • balance: The pleasing or harmonious arrangement or proportion of parts or elements in a design or composition.
  • feng shui: Chinese practice of arranging elements to achieve the greatest harmony and balance.
  • harmony: The orderly, pleasing, or congruent arrangement of the elements or parts in an artistic whole.
  • interquarter: The space between two quarters. Also see interquarter.
  • ordonnance: French term for the proper arrangement and composition of any architectural work leaning upon traditional law.
  • organization: The systematic arranging of interdependent or coordinated parts into a coherent unity or functioning whole.
  • quadrifrons: Having four fronts or faces looking in four directions. 2. Same as tetrapylon.
  • quadripartite: Divided by the system of construction employed into four compartments, as a vault.
  • quincunx: An arrangement of elements so that four are symmetrically placed around a central one.
  • retreat: A falling back, retirement, or withdrawal, as of one surface behind another in a panel, or of a part of a building, or of a whole building, behind or to the rear of another.
  • superimposed: One element placed above another; when referring to the orders, the order of superimposition is typically composite over Corinthian over Ionic over Doric over Tuscan.
  • superposed: One element placed above another; when referring to the orders, the order of superimposition is typically composite over Corinthian over Ionic over Doric over Tuscan.
  • articulation: Articulation is the manner or method of jointing parts such that each part is clear and distinct in relation to the others, even though joined.
  • back: The rear, reverse, unseen, more remote, or less important part of a structure, tool, or object. 2. The support for a more prominent or visible element. 3. The top or exposed side of a slate, tile, or the like, in contrast to the bed. 4. The ridge or top of a horizontal member or structure like a joist, rafter, or roof. 5. A principal rafter. 6. The extrados or top surface of an arch, often buried in the surrounding masonry.
  • bare: In roofing or siding, that part of a slate, shingle, or roof tile which lies exposed to the weather. The bare and the cover comprise between them the whole surface of the slate, shingle, or the like.
  • barocco: Irregular; informal; unexpected; not according to the traditions of the schools. The term seems to be the Italian form of an original Spanish or Portuguese word, the French form of which is baroque. According to the tastes and opinions of the person who used it, the term is either one of reproach, or a mere qualification descriptive of the decorative art of a certain period.
  • blank: Bare; without important features, especially without openings. Said of the wall of a building having no doors or windows; or of a more or less deceptive representation of a door, window, or the like, having no opening. Usually in combination, as blank wall; blank window. 2. A piece of metal ready to be drawn, pressed, or machined into a finished object.
  • break: A change in direction, as of a wall.
  • caprice: A caprice is a design element that is whimsical, light, and fanciful.
  • chaos: A state of utter disorder or confusion.
  • coherent: Logically or aesthetically ordered or integrated to afford comprehension or recognition.
  • collage: Work constructed of assemblages of disparate fragments, e.g. a picture made from scraps of paper, newspaper cuttings, and oddments pasted onto a backing. In architecture it is associated with Adhocism.
  • command: To contain within itself the only or the principal passage to another room or set of rooms; said of a room other than a corridor or hall
  • commodity: Something of value, use, or convenience.
  • complexity: The state or quality of being a whole composed of complicated, intricate, or interconnected parts.
  • CAD: Computer-aided design.
  • concatenation: A series of linked or interconnected things or events. 2. Union by chaining parts together, as with separate architectural elements in a long façade (each with its own roof and separate composition), the fronts being brought forward or recessed, also called staccato composition
  • content: The significance or meaning of an artistic work, as distinguished from its form.
  • contradiction: The state or condition of being opposed, inconsistent, or logically incongruous.
  • contrast: Opposition or juxtaposition of dissimilar elements in a work of art to intensify each element’s properties and produce a more dynamic expressiveness.
  • counterpoint: A parallel but contrasting element or theme in a narrative or concept.
  • counterpoise: A weight which tends to balance the action of another weight; in architecture, especially, a weight considerably greater than another and which prevents an injurious action by the latter…
  • criterion: A standard, rule, or principle on which a judgment or decision may be based.
  • deaden: To make dead; to construct so as to be dead.
  • deconstruction: An approach to building design which attempts to view architecture in bits and pieces. The basic elements of architecture are dismantled.
  • delight: A high degree of pleasure or enjoyment.
  • detached: Insulated or free-standing, the opposite of engaged, as with a column.
  • detail: An individual, minute, or subordinate part of a whole.
  • direction: The line along which something is moving, pointing, or facing, with reference to the point toward which it is directed.
  • distribution: The placing of any one part of the building, or of any one principal design, with its appurtenances.
  • double: Any repeated two-fold building, architectural feature, or motif, forming a pair.
  • dynamics: The branch of mechanics that deals with the motion and equilibrium of bodies or material systems under the action of forces. 2. The pattern of change, growth, or development of an object or phenomenon.
  • economy: Careful, thrifty, and efficient use and management of resources.
  • elision: Omission of part of an architectural element. If a frieze is elided from an entablature, an architrave-cornice is created.
  • emphasis: Stress or prominence given to an element of a composition by means of contrast, anomaly, or counterpoint.
  • equilibrium: The state of repose of a body under the application of forces which mutually counteract each other.
  • expression: The manner in which meaning, spirit, or character is symbolized or communicated in the execution of an artistic work.
  • facing: Any non-structural material (e.g. wood, stucco, plaster, metal, terra cotta, etc.) that acts to cover a less attractive or rougher wall surface.
  • false: Anything that seems to be what it is not, such as a false or pseudo-arch, false Attic (wall concealing a roof, but not containing rooms), false door, or false front (façade extending beyond the side walls and/or roof of the building to make a building seem grander than it is).
  • fancy: The play of the mind through which visions are summoned, especially mental inventions that are whimsical, playful, and characteristically removed from reality.
  • firmness: The state or quality of being solidly constructed.
  • flank: A side, as of a building or arch.
  • form: The shape and structure of something as distinguished from its substance or material. 2. Boarding or sheathing of wood, metal, plastic, or fiberglass for containing and giving a desired shape to newly placed concrete until it sets and gains sufficient strength to be self-supporting.
  • genius loci: Latin term meaning ‘the genius of the place’, referring to the presiding deity or spirt. Every place has its own unique qualities, not only in terms of its physical makeup, but of how it is perceived, so it ought to be (but far too often is not) the responsibilities of the architect or landscape-designer to be sensitive to those unique qualities, to enhance them rather than to destroy them…
  • hierarchy: A system of elements ranked, classified, and organized one above another, according to importance or significance.
  • homogenous: Uniform in structure throughout or composed of parts that are all of the same nature or kind.
  • idea: A thought or notion resulting from mental awareness, understanding, or activity.
  • image: Any representation of form or features, but especially one of the entire figure of a person; a statue, effigy, bust, relief, intaglio, etc. 2. A mental representation of something previously perceived in the absence of the original stimulus.
  • imposition: Something laid or superimposed on, e.g., an existing building.
  • in situ: In position or location. It refers to work done on site, e.g. concrete poured on the site rather than pre-cast in a factory.
  • interrupted: Architectural element from which part has been omitted. 2. Broken or open pediment.
  • jog: An offset; a change of direction in a surface.
  • jut: To project beyond a given surface.
  • juxtaposition: The state or position of being placed close together or side by side, so as to permit comparison or contrast.
  • lap: To overlap one surface with another, as in shingling. 2. The actual length of such overlap.
  • match: To bring to equality, uniformity, or similarity. Thus the planks of a floor are required to be matched in thickness; or in width, as is customary in all floors of any elegance or finish; or in color; or in surface, as for greater smoothness or a coarser or finer grain.
  • merge: To combine, blend, or unite gradually by stages so as to blur identity or distinctions.
  • metaphor: An object, activity, or idea used in place of another to suggest a likeness between them.
  • artistic design: Buildings with unusual appearances, which derived from the use of architectural details as attention-getting devices.
  • Bauhaus Design School: Avant-garde school of architecture and crafts in Weimar, founded by Walter Gropius (1883-1969).
  • computer-aided design: Also CAD or CAM. From the 1970s computers have been used in design as representations of complicated three-dimensional forms can be easily stored and manipulated. Images can be printed, architectural projections produced, and interiors explored in virtual reality…
  • Eastlake design: A decorative design in the style of British designer Charles Eastlake, marked by rich ornamentation.
  • Palladian design: A revived classic style in architecture based on the works of Andrea Palladio; often used for large, formal buildings but sometimes encountered in vernacular architecture.
  • parametric design: Method of designing complex forms using computers in parametric and algorithmic procedures based on relationships between lines, figures, or quantities: the generation of geometries form families of initial parameters and the design of the relationships of these to each other determine the outcome…
  • pattern book designs: Imported beginning in the 18th century, a book of drawings intended as a guide for American housewrights and carpenters to the popular English styles of the time. In the 19th century, pattern and plan books were published in the United States by American designers and were very influential in promoting specific styles and philosophies for living.
  • structural design: The process of arranging, interconnecting, sizing, and proportioning the members of a structural system in order to safely carry a given set of loads without exceeding the allowable stresses of the materials employed.
  • monotony: The state or quality of lacking variety.
  • mutilated: Broken or discontinued, e.g. a pediment.
  • neat: Used without the addition of other materials, as “neat cement.”
  • opposition: The state or position of being placed opposite another, or of lying in corresponding positions from an intervening space or object.
  • organic: Refers to an architectural expression loosely based on natural organic forms, and related to fundamental physical structures.
  • orientation: The placement of a structure on a site with regard to local conditions of sunlight, wind, and drainage. 2. The siting of a Christian church so that the main altar is housed toward the east end of the building, a common ritual disposition. 3. The ability to locate oneself in one’s environment with reference to time, place, and people.
  • originality: The creative ability to imagine or express in an independent and individual manner.
  • palimpsest: A surface that has been reused for writing, symbols, or carving, only partly obliterating a previous message underneath.
  • pasticcio: Also see pastiche.
  • pastiche: An artistic composition consisting of forms or motifs borrowed from different sources.
  • postiche: Superadded; done after the work is finished, especially when superfluous, inappropriate, or in poor taste.
  • postique: Also see postiche.
  • personification: Representation of a human figure with attributes to suggest an abstraction, such as Hope with Anchor. Cesare Ripa’s (c.1560-c.1645) Iconologia (1593) was an important sourcebook for personification.
  • body: The principal volume of a building such as the nave of a church. 2. The structural portion of a ceramic article or the clay material or mixture from which it is made.
  • design principle: A fundamental and comprehensive concept of visual perception for structuring an aesthetic composition.
  • principle: A fundamental and comprehensive law, truth, or assumptions governing action, procedure, or arrangement.
  • Sixteen Principles of Urbanism: Agreed with Moscow (1948), the Principles were drawn up in Communist East Germany as a radical alternative to the Le Corbusier-CIAM-Athens Charter dogmas so widely accepted in the West after 1945. Among the Principles were the rejection of urban motorways cutting swaths through the urban fabric, the abandonment of zoning that played havoc in Western cities, and the reestablishment of the urban block and traditional street as essentials, all of which were reassessed at the end of the 20th c. as part of New Urbanism.
  • protoma: Foremost or upper part of a figure, such as those on the angles of some Romanesque capitals.
  • protome: Also see protoma.
  • purpose: The reason for which something exists or is done, made, or used.
  • reduct: A small piece, as a quirk, taken out of a larger piece for the sake of conformity, symmetry, or balance, as in a room, a corner replaced by a diagonal wall to correspond with a corner fireplace or window.
  • rhythm: Movement characterized by a patterned repetition or alternation of formal elements or motifs in the same or a modified form.
  • program: A list of requirements, conditions, and other governing data in an architectural competition or architectural problem. 2. A plan of operation with time and financing elements, division of responsibilities, and the like, for a building project. 3. A procedure for solving a problem, as a statement setting forth the context, conditions, requirements, and objectives for a design project.
  • projet: An architectural problem. 2. The main elements of an architectural scheme, more or less roughly sketched in advance. 3. The original scheme for a design presented in the form of a sketch outlining its specific character, to be developed in detail in later studies.
  • scheme: The chief elements of a composition and their interrelationship; usually the preliminary stage of a design; a parti. 2. An underlying organizational pattern or structure for a design.
  • adjacent spaces: Two spaces abutting or contiguous with each other, especially when having a common boundary or border.
  • Cartesian space: Ordinary two- or three-dimensional space in which Euclid’s definitions and axioms apply. Also called Cartesian space.
  • embedded space: A space enveloped or incorporated as an essential part of a larger space.
  • Euclidean space: Ordinary two- or three-dimensional space in which Euclid’s definitions and axioms apply. Also called Cartesian space.
  • interlocking spaces: Two spaces interwoven or fit into each other so as to form a zone or field of shared space.
  • junk space: Coined by Rem Koolhaas to describe the undifferentiated space of large urban buildings such as shopping centers and exhibition halls.
  • linked spaces: Two spaces joined or connected by a third intervening space.
  • personal space: The variable and subjective distance at which one person feels comfortable talking to another. Also called personal distance.
  • primary spaces: The most important rooms in a building.
  • secondary spaces: Those areas of a building, such as stairs, hallways, or restrooms, that make the primary spaces usable.
  • space: The three-dimensional field in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction, especially a portion of that field set apart in a given instance or for a particular purpose. 2. The area at the corner of a turning stair, limited approximately by lines drawn through the newel or angle perpendicular to each of the two strings, or by such a line and one drawn in prolongation of the string. Commonly used as synonymous with pace.
  • spatial: Relating to, occupying, or having the character of space.
  • volumetric: A term referring to the three-dimensional spatial qualities of a space.
  • staccato: See concatenation.
  • stock: Commonly used and commercially available patterns, as stock window sash, stock doors, etc.
  • architectural symmetry: A characteristic (particularly of classical architecture) by which the two sides of a facade or architectural floor plan of a building present mirror images of one another.
  • asymmetrical: Something with sides which do not match.
  • symmetrical: Having identical forms or masses on either side of an axial line.
  • symmetry: The exact correspondence in size, form, and arrangement of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane, or about a center or axis.
  • synecdoche: A figure of speech in which a part is named for the whole, or the whole for a part, as a hearth for a home, or marble for a piece of sculpture. 2. A ciborium.
  • taste: Critical judgment, discernment, or appreciation of what is fitting, harmonious, or beautiful prevailing in a culture or personal to an individual.
  • tripartite: Describing an architectural element divided in three parts.
  • uniformity: The state or quality of being identical, homogenous, or regular.
  • unity: The state or quality of being combined into one, as the ordering of elements in an artistic work that constitutes a harmonious whole or promotes a singleness of effect.
  • view: A particular manner or mode of looking at or regarding something.
  • visualize: To form or recall a mental image of.

Also see Architecture index.