Looking at Buildings

Styles & Traditions

Doric and Tuscan

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The Doric Order
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Oxford, Nos. 86-87 High Street, Bank

The DoricGlossary Term is simplest and plainest of the ordersGlossary Term. The most common form is known as RomanGlossary Term DoricGlossary Term. Its columnGlossary Term has a roundGlossary Term capitalGlossary Term with a narrow neck band. The shaftGlossary Term may be plain or fluted, and rests on a baseGlossary Term. The entablatureGlossary Term has a distinctive friezeGlossary Term, with upright projecting grooved panels called triglyphsGlossary Term, one of which is always set above and in line with each columnGlossary Term. Between the triglyphsGlossary Term are panels called metopesGlossary Term, which may be ornamented with sculpture in relief; ox-skulls (called bucrania or bukrania), one of the most common subjects, are a reminder that the ordersGlossary Term evolved as parts of ancient temples at which blood-sacrifice was offered.

The DoricGlossary Term was associated with manly or soldierly qualities and by extension also with security, hence its popularity on the front of banks.

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Greek Doric
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Liverpool, Albert Dock

The Greek DoricGlossary Term is rather less common. The ancestor of the RomanGlossary Term style, it was not properly described or understood in Western Europe until the 18th century, when English architects were the first to revive it. Differences from the RomanGlossary Term kind show up most clearly on the columnGlossary Term. The capitalGlossary Term has a thin spreading convex shape (called an echinusGlossary Term), with no circular band below. The shaftGlossary Term is almost always fluted, and comes down to the ground without any separate baseGlossary Term. The proportions are stockier, and the sides bulge outwards more markedly as they rise - a trick called entasisGlossary Term, common to all the ordersGlossary Term, which stops the columns appearing to bow inwards in the middle.

Sometimes even simpler forms of DoricGlossary Term columnGlossary Term appear, with plain shafts, often used without a full entablatureGlossary Term. This Primitive DoricGlossary Term style was most in fashion in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, especially for agricultural or industrial buildings.

The TuscanGlossary Term orderGlossary Term is simpler than the DoricGlossary Term, and is sometimes difficult to tell apart from the RomanGlossary Term form. The most obvious differences are that the friezeGlossary Term is left plain, and the corniceGlossary Term tends to project more over it.

It developed from the architecture of Ancient Italy rather than Greece, in particular from the temples of the Etruscans, who lived in the part of central Italy that includes modern Tuscany. It is therefore often associated with ancient or rural simplicity.

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The Tuscan Order
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St Paul



Moulded foot of a column or pilaster. An Attic base is the form used on an Ionic column, with two large convex rings joined by a spreading convex moulding.


Head or crowning feature of a column or pilaster.


An upright structural member, especially in the classical styles, of round section and with a shaft, a capital, and usually a base.


Flat-topped ledge with moulded underside, projecting along the top of a building or feature, especially as the highest member of the classical entablature. Also the decorative moulding in the angle between wall and ceiling. An eaves cornice overhangs the edge of a roof.


The simplest and plainest of the three main classical orders, featuring a frieze with triglyphs and metopes. A Roman Doric column has a simple round capital with a narrow neck band and a plain or fluted shaft. A Greek Doric column has a thin spreading convex capital and no base to the column.


On a Greek Doric column, an ovolo or wide convex moulding below the abacus or top part of the capital.


In classical architecture, collective name for the three horizontal members (architrave, frieze and cornice) carried by a wall.


Very slight convex deviation from a straight line, used to prevent an optical illusion of concavity.


The middle member of the classical entablature, sometimes ornamented. Pulvinated frieze (lit. cushioned): of bold convex profile. Also a horizontal band of ornament.


The spaces between the triglyphs in a Doric frieze, often ornamented with sculpture.


One of a series of recessed arches and jambs forming a splayed medieval opening, e.g. a doorway or arcade arch. Also, an upright structural member used in series, especially in classical architecture: see Orders.


The differently formalized versions of the basic post-and-lintel (column and entablature) system in classical architecture. The main orders are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. They are Greek in origin but occur in Roman versions. Tuscan is a simple variant of Roman Doric. The Composite capital combines Ionic volutes with Corinthian foliage. Though each order has its own conventions of design and proportion, there are many minor variations. Superimposed orders: orders on successive levels, customarily in the upward sequence of Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite.


The architecture of the Roman Empire, to which most of Britain belonged from 43 to c. 410 A.D. Our knowledge of Romano-British architecture depends mostly on archaeological reconstructions from foundations and fragments, though some notable fortifications and other military works survive above ground level in recognizable form.


(Scots): A rounded bartizan or turret, usually roofless. An angle round is set at a corner.


Vertical member of round or polygonal section, including the main part of a classical column, and by extension also of a pilaster.


(lit. three-grooved tablets): Stylized beam-ends in a Doric frieze, with metopes between.


One of the orders of classical architecture, a simpler variant of Roman Doric.