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ARCHITECTURE (Lat. architectura, from...

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 371 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARCHITECTURE (Lat. architectura, from the Gr. ap)(LTEKrwv, a master-builder), the art of building in such a way as to accord with principles determined, not merely by the ends the edifice is intended to serve, but by high considerations of beauty and harmony (see FINE ARTS). It cannot be defined as the art of building simply, or even of building well. So far as mere excellence of construction is concerned, see BUILDING and its allied articles. The end of building as such is convenience, use, irrespective of appearance; and the employment of materials to this end is regulated by the mechanical principles of the constructive art. The end of architecture as an art, on the other hand, is so to arrange the plan, masses and enrichments of a structure as to impart to it interest, beauty, grandeur, unity, power. Architecture thus necessitates the possession by the builder of gifts of imagination as well as of technical skill, and 370 in all works of architecture properly so called these elements must exist, and be harmoniously combined. Like the other arts, architecture did not spring into existence at an early period of man's history. The ideas of symmetry and proportion which are afterwards embodied in material structures could not be evolved until at least a moderate degree of civilization had been attained, while the efforts of primitive man in the construction of dwellings must have been at first determined solely by his physical wants. Only after these had been provided for, and materials amassed on which his imagination might exercise itself, would he begin to plan and erect structures, possessing not only utility, but also grandeur and beauty. It may be well to enumerate briefly the elements which in combination form the architectural perfection of a building. These elements have been very variously determined by different authorities. Vitruvius, the only ancient writer on the art whose works have come down to us, lays down three qualities as in-dispensable in a fine building: Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas, stabilty, utility, beauty. From an architectural point of view the last is the principal, though not the sole element; and, accordingly, the theory of architecture is occupied for the most part with aesthetic considerations, or the principles of beauty in designing. Of such principles or qualities the following appear to be the most important: size, harmony, proportion, symmetry, ornament and colour. All other elements may be reduced under one or other of these heads. With regard to the first quality, it is clear that, as the feeling of power is a source of the keenest pleasure, size, or vastness of proportion, will not only excite in the mind of man the feelings of awe with which he regards the sublime in nature, but will impress him with a deep sense of the majesty of human power. It is, therefore, a double source of pleasure. The feelings with which we regard the Pyramids of Egypt, the great hall of columns at Karnak, the Pantheon, or the Basilica of Maxentius at Rome, the Trilithon at Baalbek, the choir of Beauvais cathedral, or the Arc de 1'Etoile at Paris, sufficiently attest the truth of this quality, size, which is even better appreciated when the buildings are contemplated simply as masses, without being disturbed by the consideration of the details. Proportion itself depends essentially upon the employment of mathematical ratios in the dimensions of a building. It is a curious but significant fact that such proportions as those of an exact cube, or of two cubes placed side by side—dimensions increasing by one-half (e.g., 20 ft. high, 30 wide and 45 long)—or the ratios of the base, perpendicular and hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle (e.g. 3, 4, 5, or their multiples)—please the eye more than dimensions taken at random. No defect is more glaring or more unpleasant than want of proportion. The Gothic architects appear to have been guided in their designs by proportions based on the equilateral triangle. By harmony is meant the general balancing of the several parts of the design. It is proportion applied to the mutual relations of the details. Thus, supported parts should have an adequate ratio to their supports, and the same should be the case with solids and voids. Due attention to proportion and harmony gives the appearance of stability and repose which is indispensable to a really fine building. Symmetry is uniformity in plan, and, when not carried to excess, is undoubtedly effective. But a building too rigorously symmetrical is apt to appear cold and tasteless. Such symmetry of general plan, with diversity of detail, as is presented to us in leaves, animals, and other natural objects, is probably the just medium between the excesses of two opposing schools. Next to general beauty or grandeur of form in a building comes architectural ornament. Ornament, of course, may be used to excess, and as a general rule it should be confined to the decoration of constructive parts of the fabric; but, on the other hand, a total absence or a paucity of ornament betokens an unpleasing poverty. Ornaments may be divided into two classes—mouldings and the sculptured representation of natural or fanciful objects. Mouldings, no doubt, originated, first, in simply taking off the edge of anything that might be in the way,as the edge of a square post, and then sinking the chamfer in hollows of various forms; and thence were developed the systems of mouldings we now find in all styles and periods. Each of these has its own system; and so well are their characteristics understood, that from an examination of them a skilful architect will not only tell the period in which any building has been erected, but will even give an estimate of its probable size, as professors of physiology will construct an animal from the examination of a single bone. Mouldings require to be carefully studied, for nothing offends an educated eye like a confusion of mouldings, such as Roman forms in Greek work, or Early English in that of the Tudor period. The same remark applies to sculptured ornaments. They should be neither too numerous nor too few, and above all, they should be consistent. The carved ox skulls, for instance, which are appropriate in a temple of Vesta or of Fortune would be very incongruous on a Christian church. Colour must be regarded as a subsidiary element in architecture, and although it seems almost indispensable and has always been extensively employed in interiors, it is doubtful how far external colouring is desirable. Some contend that only local. colouring, i.e. the colour of the materials, should be admitted; but there seems no reason why any colour should not be used, provided it be employed with discretion and kept subordinate to the form or outline. Origin of the Art.—The origin of the art of architecture is to be found in the endeavours of man to provide for his physical wants; in the earliest days the cave, the hut and the tent may have given shelter to those who devoted themselves to hunting and fishing, to agriculture and to a pastoral and nomadic life, and in many cases still afford the only shelter from the weather. There can be no doubt, however, that climate and the materials at hand affect the forms of the primitive buildings; thus, in the two earliest settlements of mankind, in Chaldaea and Egypt, where wood was scarce, the heat in the day-time intense, and the only material which could be obtained was the alluvial clay, brought down by the rivers in both those countries, they shaped this into bricks, which, dried in the sun, enabled them to build rude huts, giving them the required shelter. These may have been circular or rectangular on plan, with the bricks laid in horizontal courses, one projecting over the other, till the walls met at the top. The next advance in Egypt was made by the employment of the trunks of the palm tree as a lintel over the doorway, to support the wall above, and to cover over the hut and carry the flat roof of earth which is found down to the present day in all hot countries. Evidence of this system of construction is found in some of the earliest rock-cut tombs at Giza, where the actual dwelling of the deceased was reproduced in the tomb, and from these reproductions we gather that the corners, or quoins of the hut were protected by stems of the douva plant, bound together in rolls by the leaves, which, in the form of torus rolls, were also carried across the top of the wall. Down to the present day the huts of the fellahs are built in the same way, and, surmounted as they are by pigeon-cots, bear so strong a resemblance to the pylons and the walls of the temples as at all events to suggest, if not to prove, that in their origin these stone erections were copies of unburnt brick structures. From long exposure in the sun, these bricks acquire a hardness and compactness not much inferior to some of the softer qualities of stone, but they are unable to sustain much pressure; consequently it is necessary to make the walls thicker at the bottom than at the top, and it is this which results in the batter or raking sides of all the unburnt brick walls. The same raking sides are found in all their mastabas, or tombs, sometimes built in unburnt brick and sometimes in stone, in the latter case being simple reproductions of the former. In some of the early mastabas, built in brick, either to vary the monotony of the mass and decorate the walls, or to ensure greater care in their construction, vertical brick pilasters are provided, forming sunk panels. These form the principal decoration, as reproduced in stone, of an endless number of tombs, some of which are in the British Museum. At the top of each panel they carve a portion of trunk necessary to support the walls of brick, and over the doorway a similar feature. In Chaldaea the same decorative features are found in the stage towers which constituted their temples, and broad projecting buttresses, indented panels and other features, originally constructive, form the decorations of the Assyrian palaces. There also, built in the same material, unburnt brick, the walls have a similar batter, though they were faced with burnt bricks. In later times in Greece and Asia Minor, where wood was plentiful, the stone architecture suggests its timber origin, and though unburnt brick was still employed for the mass of the walls, the remains in Crete and the representations in painting, &c., show that it was encased in timber framing, so that the raking walls were no longer a necessary element in their structure. The clearest proofs of original timber construction are shown in the rock-cut tombs of Lycia, where the ground sill, vertical posts, cross beams, purlins and roof joists are all direct imitations of structures originally erected in wood. The numerous relics of structures left by primeval man have generally little or no architectural value; and the only interesting problem regarding them—the determination of their date and purpose and of the degree of civilization which they manifest—falls within the province of archaeology (see ARCHAEOLOGY; BARROW; LAKE-DWELLINGS; STONE MONUMENTS). Technical terms in architecture will be found separately explained under their own headings in this work, and in this article a general acquaintance with them is assumed. A number of architectural subjects are also considered in detail in separate articles; see, for instance, CAPITAL; COLUMN; DESIGN; ORDER; and such headings as ABBEY; AQUEDUCT; ARCH; BASILICA; BATHS; BRIDGES; CATACOMB; CRYPT; DOME; MOSQUE; PALACE; PYRAMID; TEMPLE; THEATRE; &C., &C. Also such general articles on national art as CHINA: Art; EGYPT: Art and Archaeology; GREEK ART; ROMAN ART; &c., and the sections on architecture and buildings under the headings of countries and towns. In the remainder of this article the general history of the evolution of the art of architecture will be considered in various sections, associated with the nations and periods from which the leading historic styles are chronologically derived, in so far as the dominant influences on the art, and not the purely local characteristics of countries outside the main current of its history, are concerned; but the opportunity is taken to treat with some attempt at comprehensiveness the leading features of the architectural history of those countries and peoples which are intimately connected with the development of modern architecture. These consecutive sections are as follows: Egyptian Assyrian Persian Greek Parthian Sassanian Etruscan Roman Byzantine Early Christian Early Christian Work in Central Syria Coptic Church in Egypt Romanesque and Gothic in Italy France Spain England Germany Belgium and Holland Renaissance : Introduction Italy France Spain England Germany Belgium and Holland Mahommedan Finally, a section on what can only be collectively termed Modern architecture deals with the main lines of the later developments down to the present day in the architectural history of different countries. (R. P. S.)
End of Article: ARCHITECTURE (Lat. architectura, from the Gr. ap)(LTEKrwv, a master-builder)
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