Architecture glossary



abacus : A tablet placed horizontally on the capital of a column, aiding the support of the architrave.

abutment : A solid piece of masonry used to support a projecting part of a structure, for example, the supports that connect a bridge with a river bank.

acanthus : Mediterranean plant. The leaves are thick, fleshy, and scalloped. A stylization of the acanthus leaf began in Greek and Roman decoration, especially on the Corinthian capital.

acropolis : The citadel in ancient Greek towns. The symbolic center of a Greek city-state, bringing together its most important sacred and civic buildings in one urban space, as in Athens where the Parthenon forms the heart of the Athenian acropolis.

adobe : Sun-dried brick used in places with warm, dry climates, such as Egypt and Mexico; the clay from which bricks are made; the structures built out of adobe bricks.

aisle : The portion of a church flanking the nave and separated from it by a row of columns or piers. In general, the space between the arcade and an outer wall.

altarpiece : A panel, painted or sculptured, situated above and behind an altar.

ambulatory : A continuous aisle in a circular building, as in a church.

amphitheater : The circular structure characterized by rising tiers of stone seats contained within an arched stone outer wall that was used by Romans for circus performances and gladiatorial contest.

applied or engaged column :A column which is attached to the wall so that only half of the form projects from the wall.

apse : A semicircular area; in most churches it contains the altar.

arabesque : Ornament consisting of garlands of foliage with figures, fancifully interlaced to form graceful curves and painted, inlaid, or carved in low relief.

arcade : A series of arches supported by columns or piers, or a passageway formed by these arches.

arcading : An uninterrupted series of arcades

arch : A curved structure that supports the weight of the material above it.

architrave : The lowest part of an entablature resting on the capital of a column; also, the holdings around a doorway. The lintel or flat horizontal member which spans the space between the columns; in classical architecture, the lowest member of an entablature.

Arts and Craft : Galvanized by William Morris’s disgust at what he perceived as the dehumanizing tendencies of mass production and the factory system, a group os architects and designers attempted to revive the traditions of simple handicraft techniques in 19th century Britain. In architecture they looked at the unselfconscious vernacular tradition of barns, mills, and cottages as an inspiration and at the aesthetics of the medieval period. Known as the Arts and Crafts movement, this design tendency spread across much of Europe to America and Australia.

Art deco : A popular design of the 1920s and “30s characterized by bold outlines, geometric and zigzag forms.

asbestos :  A fibrous, incombustible material once used in building construction. No longer allowed due to health risk (amiante).

ashlar : Stones hewn and squared for use in building, as distinguished from rough stones. The practice of laying stone in smooth cut – or dressed – blocks in regular courses, seperated by only the thinnest of joints. Originated by the ancient Egyptians and adopted as an important element of classical architecture. (pierre de taille équarrie)

atrium :  In an ancient Roman structure, a central room open to the sky, usually having a pool for the collection of rainwater. In the Roman period this was the inner courtyard of a house, left open to the sky, and generally built by the affluent urbam classes. In Christian churches, a courtyard flanked by porticos. An open courtyard at the entrance of a church, usually surrounded by covered aisles. The atrium of the Early Christian church was originally a place for the catechumens to wait during the celebration of the Eucharist. In the 20th century the word has been adopted to describe dramatic enclosed glass-roofed indoor spaces associated with high-rise hotels and office buildings that are treated as substitutes for the public realm.

attic : The part of the entablature above the cornice, serving to hide the roof.



baptismal font: A receptacle for water, used for baptismal. Early Christian baptism took place by total immersion, so the baptismal font was large and generally built into the floor of a separate building. Later, particularly in northern Europe, child baptism replaced adult baptism so the font could be made smaller and was usually placed in the church building itself

baldachin : A richly ornamented canopy structure supported by columns, suspended from a roof, or projected from a wall, as over an altar.

barrel roof : Like a covered wagon, or inverted ship; barrel vault is a plain vault of uniform cross-section.

barrel vault or tunnel vault: The simplest form of a vault, consisting of a continuous surface of semicircular or pointed sections. It resembles a barrel or tunnel which has been cut in half lengthwise

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. An architecture of flamboyance and swaggering excess that characterized the 17th century. Taking as a starting point the elements of classicism, Baroque architects gave their buildings an unprecedented elaboration , creating particularly dramatic spatially complex interiors heighten by ornamentation and by the use of bold lighting effects.

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. The public hall that formed a gathering point in every Roman city, usually with a rectangular plan ending in as apse and divided by a double file of columns. It was the inspiration for the early Christian churches.

battlement : On a castle or fort, a battlement or a crenellation is a parapet with open spaces for shooting. The raised portions of a battlement are called merlons, and the openings are called embrasures. Masonry buildings in the Gothic Revival style may have architectural decoration which resembles battlements.

bas relief or low relief : Sculpture in which the carved forms project only slightly from the background.

base: The architectural element on which a column or pier rests. Other parts of columns and piers: shaft, capital, abacus or impost block.

Bauhaus : The style of the Bauhaus School, founded in Germany by Walter Gropius in 1919, emphasizing simplicity, functionalism, and craftsmanship. Bauhaus is a German expression meaning house for building. In 1919, the economy in Germany was collapsing after a crushing war. Architect Walter Gropius was appointed to head a new institution that would help rebuild the country and form a new social order. Called the Bauhaus, the Institution called for a new “rational” social housing for the workers. Bauhaus architects rejected “bourgeois” details such as cornices, eaves, and decorative details. They wanted to use principles of Classical architecture in their most pure form: without ornamentation of any kind. Bauhaus buildings have flat roofs, smooth facades, and cubic shapes. Colors are white, gray, beige, or black. Floor plans are open and furniture is functional.

The Bauhaus school disbanded when the Nazis rose to power. Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and other Bauhaus leaders migrated to the United States. The term International Style was applied to the American form of Bauhaus architecture.

bay : A subdivision of the interior space of a building. In Romanesque and Gothic churches, the transverse arches and piers of the arcade divide the building into bays.

bay Window : A set of two or more windows that protrude out from the wall. The window is moved away from the wall to provide more light and wider views..

beam : A Horizontal load-bearing element that forms a principal part of a structure, usually using timber, steel, or concrete.

blind arcade: A row of decorative arches applied to a wall.

buttress : A projecting support built into or against the external wall of a building, typically used in Gothic buildings. A buttress is a support — usually brick or stone — built against a wall to support or reinforce it. A flying buttress is a free-standing buttress attached to the main structure by an arch or a half-arch.



campanile : A bell tower usually not actually attached to a church; also, lofty towers that form parts of buildings. Italian name for a bell tower, usually one that is detached from the main building.

cantilever : A horizontal projection, such as a balcony or beam, supported at one end only.

castle : Originally, a castle was a fortress built to protect strategic locations from enemy attack or to serve as a military base for invading armies. The earliest castles in Europe were constructed of earthwork and timber. Dating as far back as the 9th century, these early structures were often built over ancient Roman foundations. Over the next three centuries, wooden forts evolved into imposing stone walls with narrow windows and high parapets. By the 13th century, lofty stone towers were popping up across Europe. People seeking protection from invading armies built villages around established castles. Local nobility took the safest residences for themselves — inside the castle walls. Castles became homes, and also served as important political centers. As Europe moved into the Renaissance, the role of castles became divided. Some were used as military fortresses, and were controlled by a monarch. Others were unfortified palaces, mansions, or manor homes and served no military function.

capital : Decorative element that divides a column or pier from the masonry which it supports. Types of Capitals :

block, cushion, or cubic capital: A simple cube-like capital with bottom corners tapered. The block capital is particularly characteristic of Ottonian and Romanesque architecture in Germany and England.

Corinthian capital : A capital used originally by the Greeks in a system of supports called the Corinthian order. It is decorated with 3 superimposed rows of carved foliage (acanthus leaves) around the capital. At the comers of the capital there are small scroll-like volutes.

foliate capital : A capital decorated with foliage elements.

historiated or figured capital: A capital which is decorated with figures of animals, birds, or humans, used either alone or combined with foliage. The figures need not have any meaning, although they may be symbolic or part of a narrative sequence. Historiated capitals were most commonly used in the Romanesque from the late eleventh to mid-twelfth centuries.

Ionic capital: A capital used originally by the Greeks in a system of supports called the Ionic order. An Ionic capital has a volute, or a spiral scroll-like carving, on each side as its major decoration. Ionic capitals are relatively rare in medieval buildings.

Caryatid : The human figure used as a sculptural column as part of a classical composition, often flanking a doorway, or as a decorative detail within an interior around a fireplace.

castellated : Decorated with battlements (a parapet with alternating indentations and raised portions); also called crenellation. Building with battlements are usually brick or stone.

catacomb : Subterranean burial chamber used during the Roman Empire. Catacombs were used for burial, not only by Christians, but they are usually associated with Christianity because the Christians held services in the catacombs while they were still persecuted by the Romans (First to early fourth centuries A.D., though the persecution was not always severe at all times during this period). Some of the catacombs are decorated with Christian paintings. ceramic tile : Any of a wide range of sturdy floor and wall tiles made from fired clay and set with grout. May be glazed or unglazed. Colors and finishes vary. May be used in doors or out.

chancel : The easternmost part of a church, in which the alter is housed.

chimney : A passage or structure extending above the roof, through which smoke escapes.

chimney stack (conduit de cheminée)

chimney pot : Tudor or Medieval Revival style buildings often have wide, very tall chimneys with round or octagonal “pots” on top of each flue. Multiple chimneys have separate flues, and each flue has its own chimney pot. Some chimney pots are beautifully decorated,

choir : The space reserved for the clergy in the church, usually east of the transept but, in some instances, extending into the nave.

circulation : Architecture is not experienced statically. Circulation routes, the means by which access is provided through and around a building, are very often key elements in creating an understanding of architecture as users move from one part of a building to another through a carefully considered sequence of spaces. That part of a room or building required for movement of people from place to place.

cladding : The lightweight outer skin of a building that does not carry any weight or support the building, but does keep wind and rain out. A term used to describe the siding or materials covering the exterior of a building.

classicism : A tradition of Greek and Roman antiquity, distinguished by the qualities of simplicity, harmony, and balance.

Classical Revival : The Italian Renaissance or neoclassical movements in England and the United States in the nineteenth century that looked to the traditions of Greek and Roman antiquity.

clerestory : Part of an interior rising above adjacent rooftops, permitting the passage of light. clerestory, pronounced clear story, is a high wall with a band of narrow windows along the very top. The clerestory wall usually rises above adjoining roofs. Originally, the word clerestory referred to the upper level of a church or cathedral.

cloister : In religious institutions, a courtyard with covered walks. A court, usually with covered walks or ambulatories along its sides.

cob – Unburnt clay mixed with straw (torchis).

colonnade : A row of columns, usually equidistant. colonnade: A row of columns which support horizontal members, called an architrave, rather than arches

column : A vertical support; in an order it consists of a shaft and capital, often resting on a base. A vertical weight-carrying architectural member, cuircular in cross section and consisting of a base (sometimes omitted) a shaft, and a capital.

corbel : A corbel is an architectural bracket or block projecting from a wall and supporting (or appearing to support) a ceiling, beam, or shelf. A corbel can be made of wood, plaster, marble, or other materials.

concourse : a hall in a pedestrian precinct, or a piazza

concrete : A mixture of sand, cement and aggregate (stone or gravel) that may be reinforced with ferrous metals.


cornice : The upper part of an entablature, extending beyond the frieze. The cornice is the uppermost section of moldings along the top of a wall or just below a roof.

crenellation : On a castle or fort, a battlement or a crenellation is a parapet with open spaces for shooting. The raised portions of a battlement are called merlons, and the openings are called embrasures. Masonry buildings in the Gothic Revival style may have architectural decoration which resembles battlements.

cupola : A cupola is a dome-shaped ornamental structure placed on the top of a larger roof or dome. In some cases, the entire main roof of a tower or spire can be a cupola. More frequently, however, the cupola is a smaller structure which sets on top of the main roof. 

Often, you can reach the cupola by climbing a stairway inside the building. This type of cupola is called a belvedere or a widow’s walk. Some cupolas, called lanterns, have small windows which illuminate the areas below.

crypt : A vaulted space under part of a building, wholly or partly underground; in Medieval churches, normally the portion under an apse or a chevet.



deconstructivism : an approach to building design that attempts to view architecture in bits and pieces. The basic elements of architecture are dismantled. Deconstructivist buildings may seem to have no visual logic. They may appear to be made up of unrelated, disharmonious abstract forms. Deconstructive ideas are borrowed from the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.

dome : A roof formed by a series of arches, roughly forming a semicircle.

donjon (keep) : The principal tower of a castle;.

dormer : a window which is set vertically on a sloping roof. The dormer has its own roof, which may be flat, arched, or pointed (chien assis)

drawbridge : A movable bridge; originally moved horizontally like a gangway.

drum-tower : A large, circular tower, usually low and squat.

drystone : Unmortared masonry.



eave : the edge of a roof. Eaves usually project beyond the side of the building.

embrasures : On a castle or fort, a battlement or a crenellation is a parapet with open spaces for shooting. The raised portions of a battlement are called merlons, and the openings are called embrasures. Masonry buildings in the Gothic Revival style may have architectural decoration which resembles battlements.

elevation : An orthographic view of some vertical feature of a house. (Front, rear, side, interior elevation)

entablature : The upper horizontal part of an order, between a capital and the roof; it consists of the architrave, frieze, and cornice.



facade : Any important face of a building, usually the principal front with the main entrance.

Usually, the front of a building; also the other sides when they are emphasized architecturally.

fenestration : The arrangement of the windows of a building.

finial : An ornament at the tip of a pinnacle, spire or other tapering vertical architectural element.

flat roof : A pitch less roof type most favorable in dry climates.

fleche : A very small wooden spire.

floor plan : a simple line drawing showing rooms as if seen from above. Walls, doorways, and windows are often drawn to scale. However, a complete set of construction plans will also contain many other types of diagrams, such as cross-section drawings, electrical plans, and elevation drawings.

flute (or fluting) : Vertical channeling, roughly semicircular in cross section and used pricipally on columns and pillasters.

flying buttress : A buttress is a support — usually brick or stone — built against a wall to support or reinforce it. A flying buttress is a free-standing buttress attached to the main structure by an arch or a half-arch.

foliated : Carved with leaves.

foundation : The base of a house providing stability and rigidness. Foundation wall : The masonry wall that rest on the footer.

frieze : The middle part of an entablature, often decorated with spiral scrolls (volutes).




gable : the triangle formed by a sloping roof. A building may be front-gabled or side-gabled. The house shown here is cross-gabled — It has a gabled wing. Porches and dormers may also be gabled.

gallery or tribune: An upper story over the aisle which opens onto the nave or choir. It corresponds in length and width to the dimensions of the aisle below it.

gargoyle : A spout placed on the roof gutter of a Gothic building to carry away rainwater, commonly carved fancifully as in the shapes of animal heads.

Georgian : The prevailing style of English architecture during the reigns of George I, II, and III (1714- 1820), based on the principles of the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The style was transported to England by Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren. It became the prototype for the colonial style in America.

Gothic : A style employed in Europe during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries; also called pointed. It is characterized by the use of pointed arches and ribbed vaults, piers, and buttresses in the support of its stone construction. The style is best exemplified by the Notre Dame in Paris and the cathedrals of Amiens and Bourges.

gutter : A metal or plastic trough along the edge of a roof that collects water off the eave and carries it to the down spout.



A “half-timbered” building has exposed wood framing. The spaces between the wooden timbers are filled with plaster, brick, or stone. In Medieval times, many European houses were half-timbered. The structural timbers were exposed. In the United States, harsh winters made half-timbered construction impractical. The plaster and masonry filling between the timbers could not keep out cold drafts. Builders began to cover exterior walls with wood or masonry. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it became fashionable to imitate Medieval building techniques. hillfort : Bronze or Iron Age earthwork of ditches and banks.

horseshoe arch : a curved arch often used in Spanish medieval architecture. Its maximum width is greater than the distance between its two side supports. Many scholars believe that its widepread adoption there was influenced by the architecture of Moslem Spain.



keep : Main tower.

keystone : The central, uppermost part of an arch. The voussoir at the top of an arch; in vaulting it occurs at the intersection of the ribs of a rib vault. It is important structurally since it marks the apex of the vault.



lancet : A long, narrow window with pointed head.

lantern : a small circular or polygonal structure, with windows all around the base, which opens above a larger tower or dome.

lintel : A beam of any material used to span an opening.

loggia : A rostrum developed in medieval Italian towns, roofed, slightly elevated, and open on three sides, from which orators could address crowds. An an exterior gallery, open on one or more sides, with a colonnade or an arcade.



machicolation : An opening in the floor of an overhanging gallery through which the defenders of a castle dropped stones and boiling liquids on attackers.

Mansard roof : a roof that has two slopes on each of the four sides. The lower slope is steeper than the upper slope. Dormers are often set in the lower slope. The upper slope is usually not visible from the ground. The term “mansard” comes from the French architect François Mansart (1598-1666) of the Beaux Arts School of Architecture in Paris, France. Mansart revived interest in this roofing style, which had been characteristic of French Renaissance architecture, and was used for portions of the Louvre.

meutrieres (loopholes) : Murder holes.

minaret : A slender, lofty tower with balconies attached to a Muslim mosque.

module : The measurement that architects use to determine the proportions of a structure, for example, the diameter of a column. A modular home is constructed of pre-made parts and unit modules. A complete kitchen and bath may be pre-set in the house. Wall panels, trusses, and other pre-fabricated house parts are transported on a flatbed truck from the factory to the building site. You may even see an entire half-house moving along the highway. At the building site, these house sections are lifted onto the foundation where they are permanently anchored. Unlike manufactured homes, modular homes must conform to the building codes for the locations where they are erected. Some housing subdivisions prohibit modular homes.

Molding : In architecture, a continuous, narrow surface (projecting or recesses, plain or ornamented) designed to break up a surface, to accent, or to decorate.



narthex : An enclosed passage from the nave to the main entrance of a church. A porch or vestibule of a church, generally colonnaded or arcaded and preceding the nave. A low projection at the western end of a church, like a porch. Although narthex is sometimes used synonymously with westwork, a narthex is usually more open and often has only one story in contrast to the more closed westwork with a large open chamber on the upper level.

nave : The principal area of a church, extending from the main area to the transept.

Neoclassical, or “new” classical, architecture describes buildings that are inspired by the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. A Neoclassical building is likely to have some (but not necessarily all) of these features: symmetrical shape , tall columns that rise the full height of the building, triangular pediment, domed roof. During the 1500s, the famous Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio awakened an interest in the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Palladio’s ideas became the model for architecture in Europe for many centuries. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the newly-formed United States drew upon classical ideals to construct grand government buildings as well as smaller private homes.

The word Neoclassical is often used to describe an architectural style, but Neoclassicism is not actually any one distinct style.

niche: : A recess in the thickness of a wall.

Norman : A style of buildings erected by the Normans (1066 – 1154) based on the Italian Romanesque. It was used principally in castles, churches, and abbeys of massive proportions. Sparsely decorated masonry and the use of the round arch are characteristic.



ogee or ogive : An arch with a pointed apex, formed by the intersection of two S curves usually confined to decoration and not used in arcade arches. Ogee arches were used only in the late Gothic period.

order : A term applied to the three styles of Greek architecture, the Dorian, Corinthian, and Ionic, referring to the style of columns and their entablatures; it also refers to the Composite and the Tuscan, developed from the original three orders.

oriel window : An oriel window projects from the wall and does not extend to the ground. Oriel windows originated as a form of porch. They are often supported by brackets or corbels. Buildings in the Gothic Revival style often have oriel windows.



pagoda : A temple or sacred building, typically in an Asian nation, usually pyramidal, forming a tower with upward curving roofs over the individual stories.

palisade : A timber defensive screen or fence.

Palladian window : A Palladian window is a large window which is divided into three parts. The center section is larger than the two side sections, and is usually arched. Renaissance architecture and other buildings in classical styles often have Palladian windows. The term “Palladian” comes from Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect whose work inspired some of the greatest buildings in Europe and the United States. Modeled after classical Greek and Roman forms, Palladio’s buildings often featured arched openings.

parapet : A parapet is a low wall projecting from the edge of a platform, terrace, or roof. Parapets may rise above the cornice of a building or form the upper portion of a defensive wall on a castle.

parish : An area under the cure of an ordained minister (who as incumbent was supported from endowed land and tithes) to whose spiritual ministrations the inhabitants had a right. It was also an important unit of civil administration.

parquet Floor : Wood flooring laid to form geometric patterns.

partition : The name given to an interior wall (cloison)

pediment : In a classical-style building, the triangular segment between the horizontal entablature and the sloping roof. A pediment is a low-pitched triangular gable on the front of some buildings in the Grecian or Greek Revival style of architecture.

pendentive : A curved support shaped like an inverted triangle, used to support a dome. A spherical triangle which acts as a transition between a circular dome and a square base on which the dome is set.

perpendicular : Of or relating to a style of English Gothic architecture of the 14th and 15th centuries, characterized by emphasis of the vertical element.

pier : A large pillar used to support a roof.

pilaster : A pilaster is a rectangular support which resembles a flat column. The pilaster projects only slightly from the wall, and has a base, a shaft, and a capital. Greek Revival homes often have pilasters.

pinnacle : A tower, primarily ornamental, that also functions in Gothic architecture to give additional weight to a buttress or a pier.

plaster : A surface covering for walls and ceilings applied wet, dries to smooth, hard protective surface. Plaster board : A name applied to many commercial products on the market used as a backing for plaster

portal: any doorway or entrance but especially one that is large and imposing.portico

A structure usually attached to a building, such as a porch, consisting of a roof supported by piers or columns.

portcullis : A grating dropped vertically from grooves to block passage or gate in castle; of wood, metal or a combination of the two.

Prairie style : Prairie style houses usually have these features: low-pitched roof,  overhanging eaves ; horizontal lines ; central chimney ; open floor plan. Frank Lloyd Wright believed that rooms in Victorian era homes were boxed-in and confining. He began to design houses with low horizontal lines and open interior spaces. Rooms were often divided by leaded glass panels. Furniture was either built-in or specially designed. These homes were called prairie style after Wright’s 1901 Ladies Home Journal plan titled, “A Home in a Prairie Town.” Prairie houses were designed to blend in with the flat, prairie landscape. The first Prairie houses were usually plaster with wood trim or sided with horizontal board and batten. Later Prairie homes used concrete block. Prairie homes can have many shapes: Square, L-shaped, T-shaped, Y-shaped, and even pinwheel-shaped.

prefabricated : A house whose substantial parts are made entirely or in sections away from the building site.

public utilities – Those utilities including water supply, sewage, electricity, disposal, gas, telephone, cable, etc. that are available to the public.

pyramid : In ancient Egypt, a quadrilateral masonry mass with steeply sloping sides meeting at an apex, used as a tomb.


quatrefoil : A quatrefoil window is a round window which is composed of four equal lobes, like a four-petaled flower. The quatrefoil pattern is common in Moorish and gothic architecture.



rampart : A defensive stone or earth wall surrounding castle or town.

redundant : that has become useless

relief : Moldings and ornamentation projecting from the surface of a wall.

reliquary : A container for relics. Often reliquaries were in the form of caskets, though it was quite common for them to be shaped like statues or like body parts (such as hands or heads).

Renaissance : Styles existing in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; adaptations of ancient Roman elements to contemporary uses, with attention to the principles of Vitruvius and to existing ruins. Symmetry, simplicity, and exact mathematical relationships are emphasized.

retable : An architectural screen or wall above and behind an altar, usually containing painting, sculpture, carving or other decorations.

rib : A relatively slender, molded masonry arch that projects from a surface. In Gothic architecture, the ribs form the framework of the vaulting.

rococo : A style originating in France c. 1720, developed out of Baroque types, and characterized by its ornamentation of shellwork, foliage, etc., and its refined use of different materials, such as stucco, metal, or wood for a delicate effect.

Romanesque : A style developed in western and southern Europe after 1000 characterized by heavy masonry and the use of the round arch, barrel and groin vaults, narrow openings, and the vaulting rib, the vaulting shaft, and central and western towers. 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.

rose window : The large, circular window with tracery and stained glass frequently used in the façades of Gothic churches.

rustication : Worked ashlar stone, with faces left rough.



sanctuary : Under medieval canon law a fugitive from justice or a debtor was immune from arrest in a sacred place. To some extent this right was observed.

scriptorium : A Medieval writing room in which scrolls were also housed.

scullery : A scullery is a room ajoining the kitchen where pots and pans are cleaned and stored and clothes are laundered. In Great Britain and the United States, houses built before 1920 often had sculleries.

shrines : The Latin word from which the English is taken means a chest, and a shrine was originally a chest in which a relic was kept (reliquary). It was commonly used to mean a sacred image, especially one to which pilgrimages were made. The Reformation rejected pilgrimages and shrines as meaningless in terms of salvation. These sites were destroyed.

spire : A tall, tapering, acutely pointed roof to a tower, as in the top of a steeple.

stucco : A mixture of cement, sand, lime and water spread over metal screening or chicken wire or wooden lath on wooden walls to form the exterior covering of and exterior wall. Traditional stucco is a cement mixture used for siding. The cement is combined with water and inert materials such as sand and lime. Usually, wooden walls are covered with tar paper and chicken wire or galvanized metal screening. This framework is then covered with the stucco mixture. Sometimes, the cement mix is applied directly to specially prepared masonry surfaces.

story : A horizontal division of a building, from the floor to the ceiling above it.



threshold : The wooden or metal strip directly beneath an exterior door. Some have an added rubber or plastic strip feature for better weatherstripping.

timber : Large wooden boards used in creating the structure of a wall.

tracery : Ornament of ribs, bars, etc., in panels or screens, as in the upper part of a Gothic window. Branching, ornamental stonework, generally in a window, where it supports the glass; particularly characteristic of Gothic architecture.

transept : A structure that forms the arms of a T – or cross-shaped church. The part of a cruciform church with an axis that crosses the main axis at right angles. A rectangular area which cuts across the main axis of a basilica-type building and projects beyond it. The transept gives a basilica the shape of a Latin cross and usually serves to separate the main area of the building from an apse at the end.

trumeau : A pillar in the center of a Romanesque or Gothic portal.

Tudor : A style of English architecture prevalent during the reigns of the Tudors (1485- 1558), transitional between Gothic and Palladian, with emphasis on privacy and interiors. Tudor style homes have many of these features: decorative half-timbering, steeply pitched roof; prominent cross gables, tall, narrow windows; small window panes;  massive chimneys, often topped with decorative chimney pots. The name Tudor suggests that these houses imitate English architecture from the early 16th century. However, most Tudor style homes were inspired by building techniques from an earlier time. Some Tudor houses mimic humble Medieval cottages – They may even include a false thatched roof. Other Tudor homes borrow ideas from late Medieval palaces. They may have overlapping gables, parapets, and beautifully patterned brick or stonework. These historic details combine with Victorian or Craftsman flourishes. Modern Tudor houses, however, merely suggest the structural framework with false half-timbering. This decorative woodwork comes in many different designs, with stucco or patterned brick between the timbers.

turret : A small tower, usually starting at some distance from the ground, attached to a building such as a castle or fortress. A small, often ornamental tower projecting from a building, usually at a corner.

tympanum : (plural, tympana): The basically semicircular area enclosed by the arch above the lintel of an arched entranceway. This area is often decorated with sculpture in the Romanesque and Gothic periods.



Unite d’Habitation : Le Corbusier’s name for an ideal housing type, the multistory block including social facilities, shops, and play space contained within a single building, around what he called streets in the sky. Realized by Le Corbusier himself most famously in Marseilles, but also in Berlin and at the new town Firminy, the Unite was to prove hugely influential, far from universally socially sucessful. (empty)



vault : An arched brick or stone ceiling or roof. The simplest form is the barrel vault, a single continuous arch; the groined vault consists of two barrel vaults joined at right angles; a ribbed vault has diagonal arches projecting from the surface.



wall-walk : A passage along castle wall.

Westminster : Until 1529 the medieval Palace of Westminster was the chief London residence of the monarch as well as the centre for the legal and administrative business of government. A series of fires left it in poor repair and the monarch began to use Whitehall as his residence. Westminster was still used for important state ceremonies and the legal and new administrative courts, and in mid century became the permanent home for the House of Commons (in the dissolved college of St Stephen) and the House of Lords (in the Painted Chamber).

Whitehall : Formerly York Place, the London home of Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of York. In 1529 acquired by Henry VIII as a replacement residence for the medieval palace of Westminster.

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