You see Neoclassical architecture when you think about the magnificent columned buildings that make up our capital or the impressive stone structures that house some of our oldest institutions. The Neoclassical movement, which emerged in the middle of the 18th century, was a large-scale revival of classical architecture from ancient Greece and Rome. It was meant to invoke the beginnings of democracy and the early days of empires.
Neoclassical architecture refers to buildings inspired by classical architecture from ancient Rome and Greece.
What is Neoclassical Architecture?
To govern the design and proportion of buildings, the builders and architects of ancient Greece created the Three Orders. These orders are followed by neoclassical buildings: Corinthian, Ionic, and Doric. It is easy to distinguish these orders by the distinct style of their columns. They consist of three sections: The capital (top), The shaft (middle), And the pedestal (bottom).
Doric was the first order to be created. Its rules were mostly applicable to exteriors of large structures or public buildings. Doric columns are well-known for their simplicity. They may not have a capital or a pedestal. If they do, the capital and pedestal will both be simple square stone slabs with no ornamentation. A doric column’s shaft will be longer at the base and have a flat or fluted surface.
The Doric order was followed by the Ionic, which added ornamental flourishes. An Ionic column’s capital is a scroll-shaped shape with a fluted shaft. It can either be straight at the top or flared at the bottom. An anionic column’s base looks like a stack of disks. The Romans widely used the most elaborate classical order, Corinthian. Corinthian columns’ bell-shaped capital is decorated with scrollwork, leaves and intricate carvings. The Corinthian column’s base is similar to Ionic columns. It resembles a stack made up of round disks.
Neoclassical buildings often use columns. The section between the tops of the columns, roof, and roof is known as the “entablature”. They were created to complement various types of columns. A pediment is a triangular ornament covering doors and windows in Neoclassical architecture. The windows are placed evenly around the building with double-hung shutters and double-hung sashes. Neoclassical buildings often complement basic windows with more decorative ones such as Norman Wheel, Palladian, or arched.
These are the classic elements of Neoclassical Architecture:
- 2 1/2 stories
- Evenly spaced windows
- Double-hung sashes
- Elaborate doorways
- Many different styles of windows
History of Neoclassical Architecture
The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, two ancient Roman cities, were discovered in the mid-1700s. This inspired artists to look at the ancient world. While sculpture, painting, and other decorative arts can reflect the aesthetic ideals of classical Rome and Greece, architecture has the greatest impact.
The ideals of classical architecture were appealing to architects in the 18th century not only for their aesthetics but also for their political purposes. The founders of the United States-based their constitution on ancient Greek and Roman governments. They adopted the Neoclassical style as the government buildings to represent the classical roots of democracy. European architects used this same reasoning in the aftermath of the French Revolution. You can find Neoclassical buildings all over Paris.
Types of Neoclassical Architecture
There are three major types of Neoclassical architecture: Classic Block, Temple, and Palladian.
Classic block buildings are rectangular or square in footprint and have flat roofs. They also feature classically decorated exteriors rich with detail. A classic block building’s exterior is divided into multiple levels. Each level displays a repeating pattern of arches and columns that create a block-like appearance.
Neoclassical temple-style buildings are influenced by the temples of Rome and ancient Greece. Many of these buildings have a continuous line of columns around their perimeter.
Palladian architecture is based on the designs of Andrea Palladio (16th-century Italian architect). He was inspired by the grandeur of Rome’s public buildings and applied that style to his villas. A large window featuring a narrow rectangular section on each side and a central arched section is one of the most iconic features of Palladian architecture.