In classical architecture, a pilaster is a rectangular support that resembles a flat column. It includes the usual features of a classical column; a capital at the top, the shaft of the column itself, a base and a plinth, but it usually only projects a third of its width or less from the wall.
Pilasters are traditionally used for decorative rather than structural purposes, often as a means of breaking up an otherwise empty expanse of wall. As with columns, different classical orders can be represented, and the surface of a pilaster can be left plain or can be fluted.
The term ‘canton’ refers to a pilaster that appears at the corner intersection of two walls.
Roman architecture made common use of pilasters, as did Renaissance Europe where they became popular on both interior and exterior walls, and as a feature of the Greek Revival style.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Barrel vault.
- Classical orders in architecture.
- Cornice coving and architrave definitions.
- Elements of classical columns.
- Italian Renaissance revival style.
- Trompe l’oeil.
Featured articles and news
With a new government consultation underway, ICE look at creating a smarter, more flexible energy system.
International Ethics Standards Coalition publishes first set of ethics principles for built environment professionals.
British Antarctic Survey announces research station is to relocate 23km due to growing crack in the ice shelf.
A great example of mimetic architecture with the Fish Building of India.
Could e-bikes be a solution to congested and polluted urban centres?
Government publishes details of £500bn investment pipeline in infrastructure, described as the 'most comprehensive ever'.
Top of new skyscraper trimmed down by 30m to avoid interfering with City Airport flights.
A new concept unveiled to tackle the lack of sports facilities in inner cities.
'Open hand' designs revealed for a new entertainment complex in China.
Modernist architecture and its many international variations explained.
Work set to begin on 'one of America's greatest parks', which will be 10 times bigger than Central Park.
One of our most popular articles - RSHP's Mike Davies writes about the concept design process.