Elements of classical columns
A column is a structural element that transmits load from above to a supporting structure below. The word ‘column’ is associated in particular with elements that have a central shaft that is round in section.
 Greek orders
 Roman orders
For more information, see Classical orders in architecture.
Traditionally, a column is made up of a base, a shaft and a capital.
The base is the lowest part or division of a column. Egyptian and Greek Doric columns were typically placed directly on the floor without a base. In contrast to this, Ionic columns had an elaborate base made up of groups of mouldings (decorative strips) and fillets (narrow bands with vertical faces).
An attic base for example is made up of:
- Lower torus (a semi-circular convex moulding).
- Scotia (a concave moulding between two fillets).
- Upper torus.
Columns may sit on a more complex pedestal, usually having a die (a square block between the column and base), a base and cornice. This may sit on a plinth giving a more even distribution of the column weight.
The shaft is the portion of a column between the base and the capital:
- The Doric order is usually identified by its stout columns compared to the other orders. In Greece, Doric columns rested directly on the floor without a pedestal or base moulding. Roman Doric columns tend to be slimmer and sit on an Attic base.
- Ionic are generally thinner, and generally fluted.
- Corinthian columns are typically slender and fluted.
- Tuscan columns are unfluted with a simple base and unadorned capital and entablature.
The ‘entasis’ describes the subtle curved profile of classical columns.
- Astragal. A small convex moulding around the bottom of the capital and the top of the shaft, below the necking layer.
- Necking: On a Doric column, the necking appears as a plain section beneath the capital and above the astragal.
- Bell: This is common to Corinthian columns and is the part of the capital between the neck moulding and the abacus that is shaped like a bell. It is usually decorated with acanthus leaves.
- Echinus: The decorative moulding that sits below the abacus and above the necking.
- Abacus: A square slab that sits on top of the column's capital and supports the architrave or arch. The function of an abacus is to broaden the support provided by the column.
- Volutes: A spiral form which is a distinctive element of the Ionic capitals.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Barrel vault.
- Classical orders in architecture.
- Cornice coving and architrave definitions.
- Difference between pillars and columns.
- Flying buttress.
- Trompe l’oeil.
- Types of column.
 External references
The IHBC has welcomed Zaki Aslan as the keynote Day School speaker at its 2019 Annual School in Nottingham on 4-6 July 2019.
IHBC continues its CPD partnering with the Listed Property Owners Club into 2019 with free places and CPD for members and an IHBC stand on 9-10 February in the Olympia.
To help profile career opportunities across the conservation and heritage sectors, the IHBC now offers regular reviews of opportunities featured in our ‘Jobs etc.’ service.
Cadw will be delivering a brand new website in 2019 and wants to provide a valuable information and services informed by a survey.
A new report, ‘Under Pressure’, warns councils not to let budget squeezes and disruption caused by change programmes land them in trouble with the Ombudsman’s office.
With the Annual School on ‘Heritage, Risk and Resilience’, Barri Millar of the APS has particularly asked IHBC members to contribute to a survey on CDM Regulations.
MCHLG’s updates include, ‘Environmental monitoring following the Grenfell Tower fire’- air quality reports for the survivors and residents of the area surrounding Grenfell Tower.