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Abacus  

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Article

Michael Forsyth

Sound can be defined as audible vibrations within a relatively steady medium, and in buildings sound may be air-borne or structure-borne. The science of architectural acoustics is divisible into noise control and room acoustics. The following article is mainly concerned with the latter and the ‘desired’ sound generated within a space, because its design has had a significant impact on architectural form; it concentrates on examples of Western architecture.

For an extended discussion of acoustics see Grove 6.

Different acoustical conditions are preferable for listening to the spoken word as compared with different types of music. The shape, size and construction of halls and theatres—and to some extent other building types, including churches—developed historically in response to acoustical requirements. Room-acoustic design, however, is a relatively recent subject of study. Until the 20th century this relationship between acoustical requirements and the building form resulted from trial and error, involving the architect’s intuition and awareness of precedent rather than scientific knowledge. Acoustically inadequate halls were usually demolished within about 50 years, so that most surviving older halls are probably among the best that were built....

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A. Delivorrias

Decorative finial crowning the apex and lower angles of the pediments of ancient Greek and Roman buildings. Acroteria were normally made of terracotta, poros, limestone or marble, although bronze acroteria are mentioned in the literary sources: Pausanias (Guide to Greece V.x.4) noted gilded Victories framed by bronze cauldrons at the lower angles of the pediments of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The bronze Victories framing Bellerophon and the Chimaera on the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis at Athens are recorded in inscriptions, and traces of their bases survive.

The stylistic development of acroteria begins in the 7th century bc. The earliest surviving examples are the frequently enormous terracotta discs that crowned Lakonian-tiled roofs, such as that from the Temple of Hera at Olympia (Archaeol. Mus.; c. 600 bc). This type continued in the 6th century bc, and it was also sculpted in marble with relief decoration—rosettes, gorgoneia and gorgons—mainly in regions under Lakonian influence. Terracotta acroteria became highly decorative in the course of the 6th century, thanks to the potential of the more flexible Corinthian system of tiling and the advanced coroplastic tradition of the Corinthian workshops. The evolution of acroteria into increasingly sophisticated compositions based on floral, animal and mythological themes and the development of great plasticity and spectacular polychromy are recorded in a series of fragmentary examples from Greece, Magna Graecia and Sicily. Floral elements appear quite early on in variations of the palmette motif and predominate as central acroteria even after the establishment of marble as the standard sculptural material. Hybrid figures of fantastic beasts, such as sphinxes and griffins, were popular as lateral acroteria, initially in terracotta and later in marble; these did not persist after the ...

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Adyton  

[Gr. ‘not to be entered’; Lat. adytum]

Most sacred inner part of a temple, accessible only to the priests (see Greece, ancient, fig. g).

S. K. Thalman: The Adyton in the Greek Temples of South Italy and Sicily (diss., U. California, Berkeley, 1976) M. B. Hollinshead: ‘"Adyton", "Opisthodomos", and the Inner Room of the Greek Temple’, Hesperia: Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 68/2 (April–June 1999), pp. 189–218...

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Margaret Lyttleton

Columnar niche or shrine applied decoratively to a larger building. The word is a diminutive from the Latin word aedes (‘temple’). Summerson traced its application to Gothic architecture and drew attention to the importance of playing at being in a house for all small children; he claimed that this kind of play has much to do with the aesthetics of architecture and leads ultimately to the use of the aedicula. The earliest surviving examples of aediculae are shop-signs from Pompeii, such as that showing Mercury or Hermes emerging from a small building. Later aediculae appear extensively in wall paintings of the Fourth Style (c. ad 20–c. 90; see Rome, ancient §V 2.). Later still, aediculae were often used in the architecture of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire; they consisted of columns or pilasters flanking a niche for statuary, with a pediment above, as in the stage-building of the theatre at ...

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Aetoma  

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Aisle  

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Stephen Heywood

[alternation]

Term applied to medieval ecclesiastical architecture and referring to the deliberate use of differing pier forms in an arcade. Alternation is found in aisled churches throughout western Europe from the 11th to the 14th century. Its purpose is to articulate internal elevations through the subdivision of the main arcades and in some instances to emphasize certain liturgically important areas. In its simplest form the alternating system consists of the use of both the column (cylindrical) and the pier (square or rectangular in section). In antiquity these two types of support had specific functions that were almost always observed: the column supported the horizontal entablature and the pier supported the arch. By the Middle Ages this rule had been abandoned, and both types of support were used for arcades.

The earliest examples of alternation occur in the eastern Roman Empire during the 5th and 6th centuries ad. In most instances its use may be attributed to structural function, as at the church of ...

Article

Mark Firth and Louis Skoler

Silvery white metal. The third most abundant element in the earth’s crust (after oxygen and silicon), aluminium is found only in the form of its compounds, such as alumina or aluminium oxide. Its name is derived from alumen, the Latin name for alum, and in the 18th century the French word alumine was proposed for the oxide of the metal, then undiscovered. The name aluminium was adopted in the early 19th century and is used world-wide except in the USA, where the spelling is aluminum, and in Italy where alluminio is used. Following the discovery of processes for separating the metal from the oxide, at first experimentally in 1825, then commercially in 1854 and industrially in 1886–8, aluminium rapidly came to be valued as an adaptable material with both functional and decorative properties. Thus in addition to being used in engineering, transport, industrial design and household products, it was also widely adopted in architecture, sculpture and the decorative arts....

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Stephen Heywood

The extension of the aisles around the sanctuary of a major aisled church to form a passage or walkway. The ambulatory is found throughout western Europe, especially in France, and was particularly popular between the 11th and 13th centuries. It is often provided with radiating chapels that project from its exterior face. Its function was to provide separate access to the radiating chapels and perhaps originally to facilitate the circulation of pilgrims past relics. The ambulatory with radiating chapels was an important innovation of the Romanesque period and is a particularly potent illustration of the style’s preoccupation with the articulation of structure (see Romanesque, §II).

The origins of the ambulatory are found in Carolingian outer crypts (see Crypt). A good example from England is the simple, barrel-vaulted corridor that runs around the apse at All Saints’, Brixworth (Northants), probably built during the 9th century (for illustration ...

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Annulet  

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Anta  

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Antefix  

Nancy A. Winter

[antefixum; pl. antefixes, antefixa]. Plaque closing the outer end of the final cover tile in each row of overlapping cover tiles running down from the ridge to the eaves of a sloped roof on Classical Greek and Roman and on Neo-classical buildings. Its practical functions were to prevent rain from penetrating below the cover tile and seeping through the opening between the adjacent pan tiles beneath, and to prevent wind from dislodging the row of cover tiles. Although functional in origin, the antefix soon also became a decorative element adorned with relief and/or painted decoration. The size and shape of early examples was determined by that of the cover tile, but by c. 550–525 bc the plaque had become larger than its tile in order to accommodate more decoration.

The earliest antefixes, from the first half of the 7th century bc, apparently formed part of undecorated terracotta roofs in the Corinthia of ...

Article

Jeffrey West

[honeysuckle; palmette]

Floral ornament, typically with alternating motifs. The term first occurs in a progress report commissioned in 409 bc on the building of the Erechtheion in Athens. Although the west side of the building was refurbished by the Romans in the 1st century ad, it is probable that the unfinished column bands referred to in the report were decorated with Palmette and lotus friezes comparable with those that decorate the Ionic columns of the north portico. In Classical architecture, anthemion ornaments are typical of the Ionic order, although they also occur in the decoration of a wide range of different artefacts, especially ceramics. Alternation of motif is characteristic, but there is considerable variation in the type, form and detail of the constituents.

The characteristic anthemion composition comprises alternating palmette and lotus motifs, which in Classical ornament emerge from an acanthine calyx (see Acanthus) and are joined to one another by curving S-shaped scrolls. In the ...

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Apse  

Semicircular or polygonal vaulted space, usually at the end of a basilica nave (see Church, fig.).

G. Binding: ‘Abside’, Enciclopedia dell’arte medievale, 1 (Rome, 1991), pp. 75–82 S. Ghigonetto: Storia dell’architettura medievale: Una tipologia riscoperta: Le chiese a doppia-abside: Forme e funzioni (Paris, 2000) S. de Blaauw: ‘L’abside nella terminologia architettonica del Liber pontificalis’,...

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Apteral