The GRAMMAR of ANTIQUITY
In “The Five Orders of Architecture” which is the key part of the book that focuses on the details of the five orders. Chapter 2, “The Grammar of Antiquity”, describes how these five orders are used in architecture.
The issue is adding each column that symbolizes different architectural characters into the overall design. Including these columns in the design for diversity is essential.
If you are designing a temple with porticos at front and back and colonnades at the sides, these columns and their appurtenances account for very nearly everything, so far as the exterior is concerned. At each of the four corners of the temple, the gable splits off from the cornice to form, front and back that flat triangular shape which is called a pediment, and there you are. Suppose you are designing a building other than a temple such as a theatre, courts of justice or a library, what then?
Four different porch levels or four different shadow effects of columns depend on either the level of protrusion or the free-standing status. Every time an order changes its plane or relief, say from pilaster forward to half, from half forward again to three-quarter, the entablature has to break forward too. This is an essential rule. I believe it also confirms the following principle: “Structure and architectural expression must be integrated.”
The Colosseum was undoubtedly one of the greatest inspirations for the works of Renaissance masters. It is a unique work in which arch and column orders are used together, where four different orders of architecture come together in the same structure. It has been a source of inspiration for other structures is still considered as one of the architectural masterpieces.
When we look at the Renaissance buildings, we can see the reflections of Colosseum, the same architectural language is applied and interpreted in many other important buildings. Triumphal arches like gallery amphitheater (Colosseum) are also considered as important building types as a source of architectural expression. Both structural types have been an excellent example of the use of five orders in architecture.
Triumphal arches being purely ceremonial affairs, made great play with architectural and sculptural detail. Detailed description of the triumphal arches is in the book, I will not go into the details. The aim here is focusing on the central topic of the chapter – what is meant and the crucial points; to make them more open and simpler in a summary.
Certainly, the most beautiful examples of magnificent type of building like the triumphal arch are Arch of Septimius Severus and Arch of Constantine in Italy.
The adaptation of the order in the triumphal arches, the invention of Leon Battista Alberti, to church architecture, has been tried in countless churches in classical style for four hundred years after Alberti.
Apart from triumphal arches and theaters, there are many types of buildings that have inspired the use of the classical language. The Pantheon exemplifies domed structures as a prototype in all its glory. Pantheon, on the other hand, is another one to exemplify.
“The great achievement of the Renaissance was not the strict imitation of Roman buildings (that was left for eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) but reestablishment of the grammar of antiquity as a universal discipline. The discipline inherited from the remote past of mankind and applicable to all honorable building enterprises whatever.” (The Classical Language of Architecture, John Summerson, 2005, p. 28)
This quote states one of the most important facts. This should be a manifesto that must be memorized and never forgotten by all professional practitioners who take their reference from the past in architectural design and copy the historical motifs and suppose that they actually “design” something.
Producing strict imitations, making collages by collecting original pieces from various structures, copying historical motifs and all other similar architectural varieties that we can increase the number of are doomed to be classified as “degenerated architecture”. The copycat architecture at the very end of post-modern which takes its reference from history; the architecture that turns its back on the requirements, needs and opportunities of the era no matter it is done under which name or description, remains only a building. They can never be an architectural work.
In 1903, Sir Edwin Lutyens, in a letter to his friend British architect Herbert Baker, says “you cannot copy”. The magnificent interpretation of an architectural master who really knows what the classical language and the original architectural tradition is in this letter.
“That time-worn Doric order – a lovely thing – I have the cheek to adopt. You can’t copy it. To be right you have to take it and design it… You cannot copy it: you find if you do you are caught, a mess remains.
It means hard labor, hard thinking, over every line in all three dimensions and in every joint; and no stone can be allowed to slide. If you tackle it in this way, the Order belongs to you, and every stroke, being mentally handled, must become endowed with such poetry and artistry as God has given you. You alter one feature (which you have to, always), then every other feature has to sympathize and undergo
some care and invention. Therefore, it is no mean game, nor is it a game you can play lightheartedly.” (The Classical Language of Architecture, John Summerson, 2005, p. 30)
If the understanding of rule is one basic factor in the creation of great classical buildings, the defiance of rule is the other. The only way of having an authentic identity for an architect is by challenging himself / herself for the better. This challenge is not copying but imagining, hard-working, and creating.