Post 271 – by Gautam Shah



Architectonic elements over openings are mainly of carved, sculpted or formed nature, and occasionally drawn objects. The first set of elements exploit the sunlight and natural colour-texture of the materials. The drawn objects like paintings, mosaics and other surface renderings use colour, texture, shadows and reflections to convey the depth by contrast and delineation of outlines. Patterns and subject themes are also used for reinforcing the architectonic nature of the elements. Architectonic nature of the elements is also emphasized through the structural forms, construction details and joints.




The support base of lintel and springing points of the arch are made of different and harder bearing material. These are shaped like capital of a column, made wider, projected or recessed, and have a distinctive finish. Similarly the centre points, of the lintel and keystones of the arch, are made more noticeable by creating focus through grooves, medallions, radiating lines, or by forming like a superimposed element. The treatments are also in the forms of niches and projections that pretentiously repeat the form of opening.

Door of the Art Nouveau Building from the architect Jules Lavirotte, 29 avenue Rapp, Paris

Sides of the openings made in crude or rubble masonry walls are contrasted by articulated masonry edge blocks, like the quoins, additional surrounds and pilasters or full columns.

Door saints catholic, religion.

Quoins are the corner or edge blocks of better dressed stones or bricks, with structural or a decorative role. Quoins give the impression of strength and firmness to a building. The arch joints are continued in the quoins as a pattern. Quoins are also created as rusticated plaster pattern.

Pilaster and capital, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

Jambs are the stones in the sides of a door or window opening. Stone jambs have a structural role of supporting the lintel, or a functional role of holding the wrought iron lattice.

Puerta de la colegiata, Lerma, Spain

A pilaster is a slightly-projecting or half column built into or attached on the sides of an opening on the face of a wall, or used to divide the wall in bays matching to structural columns. Pilasters often serve a structural role but are mostly decorative elements. The pilasters supporting the ledge, entablature, pediment, balcony or Chhajja projection above are often replaced by ornamental brackets. Pilasters decoratively support a recessed archivolt around a doorway. Pilasters take the form of a column that is part circle, half octagonal or half or partial square. Pilasters have a bottom rest and a crown or capital as the heading element. Classical pilasters follow the column orders such as Doric, Ionic or Corinthian columns. Pilasters rise from the floor, over a ledge or from a platform protruding at sill level, to the opening head level, however, double or triple storey pilasters covering a stack of several openings are also used. Indian temple doors have side columns with niches for minor deities like Gandharva.

Corinthian pilasters. 1st and 2nd floors of a 19th building, 8 avenue de l’Opéra, Paris

Mouldings and Friezes are attached to frames of the openings or occur as a running band surrounding the edge of a masonry gap. The mouldings or friezes are created as a very distinctive border to highlight the opening gap and enlarge its visual scale. These are sculpted, painted, inlayed or decorated with mosaic work, ‘such as the soft blue-gray stone (piètra serena) was contrasted against a light stucco wall’. The ornamental features are usually a surface treatment and have very little depth or projection. Byzantine architecture used colour stone bands to visually interlink all openings. ‘Colour was used in Florentine architecture to stress the linear relationship rather than for overall pattern forming purposes’. Interior faces of jambs in Gothic architecture were fluted to increase the perpendicularity.

Detail of the University of Catania, aside the San Nicolò Church, Catania

Intrados and Extrados, are the underside or interior curves of an arch that is sometimes used to describe a curved vault or soffit.


Archivolt is ornamental mouldings or band on the inner curvature or underside of an arch. The bands are often receding from the largest arch in a front edge to the smaller arches over the smaller door or window opening. In Gothic architecture instead of the mouldings or bands, flutes or sculpted pieces were used. The word is sometimes used to refer to the under side or inner curve of the arch itself -the intrados.

Archivolts at Speyer Cathedral

Atlantes, Caryatids (male and female figures), and Herms (human busts) are used as columns, pilasters or inclined brackets near openings in European and Indian architecture.

Rue des Petites-Écuries (Paris) > Atlantes, Caryatids (male and female figures)