Order System

Order or order system are some of the commonly used terms. What exactly are they and why are they so important?

The Ancient Greeks created the orders. Initially, their buildings were made of wood, but later they started using stone as a building material. The desire of the Ancient Greeks to reach the beauty and and perfect propotion is well known. They explored correlations between the elements of the buildings: between height and diameter of the column, the relationship between capital and column, distance between columns, etc. 

Thanks to the Romans the knowledge of these mathematical calculations and analyses remained intact till today. The scientists of the days back formulated the basic principles of Greek architecture that were later enriched.

The most popular Greek orders are three: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. All three of them take their names after the regions where they were created. The characteristic features of the different orders are many, but they are easily identified by the ending of the columns. The shape and decoration of the capitals bear the main features of the relevant order.

Doric order – it is the oldest and the most laconic one in terms of decoration. The columns stand directly on a platform and are fluted with shallow concaves along the entire height of the column. The capital is round in shape and has the form of a squashed pillow.

Ionic order – it is the most elegant one. Unlike the Doric order the Ionic columns stand on a specially shaped stone slab called base which separates the shaft of the column from the stylobate or the platform. The column is also fluted with shallow concaves. However, the most distinctive part is the capital. In its formation spiral elements are used. They are called volutes and look like a snail’s shell.

Corinthian order – it looks like the Ionic, but differs in the capital which is formed by stone carvings with countless acanthus leaves and floral motifs.

Roman Corinthian order – the Corinthian capital was later borrowed by the Romans. As an additional decoration to the acanthus leaves, the Romans added small volutes. The shaft of the column is smooth and it stands on a high pedestal. This is how the Roman Corinthian order was created. It is also called Composite order as it can be seen in some literature editions. The elements of the Forum, the Odeon and the Ancient Theatre in Philippopolis were made in this style.

Orders do not apply only to features of columns and capitals. Their characteristics are manifested in the design of the whole building.