& the Doric Order
of Classical Architecture
Doric Columns have a firm place in history and in the tradition of classical architecture. The ancient styles of construction developed in Greece and Rome were revived and codified by Renaissance architects and scholars such as Giacomo da Vignola (1507-1573) and Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). They became known as the Five Orders:
- The Tuscan Order (Roman)
- The Doric Order (Greek and Roman)
- The Ionic Order (Greek and Roman)
- The Corinthian Order (Greek and Roman)
- The Composite Order (Roman)
These styles were revisited when the Greek Revival movement in the late 18th and early 19th century brought the elements of classical architecture back into vogue. The orders continue to be the basis for many buildings, particularly public buildings where there is a desire to express permanence, confidence and a continuity with the past. While public buildings may adhere to many of the principles defined in a specific order, smaller buildings, such as homes, may simply adopt columns that are influenced by one of the orders.
Defining the Orders
As defined by Vignola, Palladio and other writers, each of the five orders establishes guidelines for the characteristics, details and proportions of architectural elements such as the column and its parts and the entablature and its parts. As far back as the Roman writer Marcus Vitruvius Pollo (circa 80-70 BCE), there has been a tradition to use the diameter at the base of a column as a unit of measurement. So, for example, the height of the entablature of in the Doric order may be referred to as being 2 diameters, while the height of a column may be referred to as being 6 or 7 diameters.
Characteristics of the Doric Column
The order encompasses the entire building system columns and entablature, while individual columns have characteristics belonging to one of the orders. In ancient Greece, Doric columns were stouter than those of the Ionic or Corinthian orders. Their smooth, round capitals are simple and plain compared to the other two Greek orders. A square abacus connects the capital to the entablature. In Greece, the Doric column was placed directly on the pavement or floor without benefit of a base. Examples of Doric columns in the Greek style include: the Heraeum at Olympus (590 BCE), the Basilica at Paestum (about 530 BCE) and the Parthenon (447-432 BCE). When the Romans adopted Doric columns for their buildings, changes were made. Roman Doric columns tend to be slimmer than the Greek Doric columns. At their base, Roman Doric columns are usually adorned with the Attic base, composed of an upper and lower torus separated by a scotia with fillets. Instead of being placed directly on the floor or platform, Roman columns stand on pads or plinths.