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.
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.
- 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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Barrel vault.
- Classical architecture
- Classical orders in architecture.
- Cornice coving and architrave definitions.
- Difference between pillars and columns.
- Etruscan architecture.
- Flying buttress.
- Knotted column.
- Roman Classical orders in architecture.
- Running dog pattern.
- Trompe l’oeil.
- Types of column.
 External references
A section has fallen away and landed in the River Cocker below, including the back walls over three floors, sections of flooring and parts of the roof.
Starting with a survey in 1986, the 'topping out' ceremony took place 7 Sep 2023.
Following a fire, engineers confirmed that the building faced complete demolition.
Wales’ Gwrych Castle has a funding lifeline from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) as part of its Covid-19 Response Fund
Interactive 3D models have been created of the 29 surviving 'dinosaurs' in Palace Park, South London.
The Forth Bridge is one of the engineering wonders of the world. From the Engine Shed HES, find out more about how this incredible structure was built and what the conservation challenges are today.
A clock tower which stood in Stirling for 117 years has been controversially and dramatically demolished by the local council over safety fears
This guide is designed to be both inspirational and educational, providing the information and creative stimulation needed for successful completion of a natural stone project.
The issue explores the diverse facets of conservation of World Heritage Sites from across our globe.
The innovative project will be an exemplar of reuse and retrofit of an existing building.