ARCHITECTURE is so wide a subject that it seems advisable in these limited pages to confine our attention to one aspect, alone, of its growth-the development of Architecture in Europe from the time of the early Greeks down to the present day, with special reference to the buildings of our own islands.
This limitation excludes consideration of many ancient buildings -the Pyramids and rock-cut temples of Egypt : the sun-dried brick structures of Chaldea, Babylonia and Assyria, and also the pre-Grecian work of the AEgean Archipelago. We commence, then, with the buildings of Ancient Greece, the cradle of European Architecture.
Different people at different times have favoured as shelters trees, caves, tents, huts and wagons. All of these have left their mark on Architecture, but it is the wooden hut that chiefly concerns us, for Greek buildings were largely stone imitations of wooden buildings.
In tracing the development of Architecture from Ancient Greece onwards, the grouping adopted by the late Professor Ruskin will be followed, namely:
(1) The Lintel Group (column and pediment).
(2) The Round Arch Group (vault and dome).
(3) The Pointed Arch Group (vault, gable, buttress).
The Lion Gate Mycenae. This famous gate, one of the oldest of all the old treasures of Greece, is a good example of primitive work of the "Lintel" group.
The Greeks, as we know them in history, entered Greece from the north, not as a united nation under one ruler, but in many groups and at different times. Of the people whom they found in possession of the land much has been learnt in recent times by means of excavation work.
Ruins which have been unearthed at Knossos in Crete show that A gean civilization reached a high stage as early as 2,500 B.c. The Greeks of history, later, in their literature called the early buildings of the AEgean people the work of cyclops, of giants. They were certainly the work of giants, but giants in intellect, men of great skill.
To what extent Greek builders were influenced by these works, and those of the Egyptians, Assyrians and other earlier civilizations, is a debatable point. But, however much they owed in the way of inspiration to then existing buildings, they won for themselves universal recognition as a new and original building power of the highest order.
Greek Architecture belongs to the lintel group. The simplest type of this group can be seen at Stonehenge, and the noblest in the Parthenon at Athens.
Early Greek temples were little more than glorified enlargements in stone of wooden predecessors, and from this point of view there was nothing wonderful about them, no reason why they should have won lasting fame. But the Greeks were, above all, great artists, with an instinct for beauty of form and line, hitherto unrivalled in the world. Their buildings, although simple in construction, were unique in beauty of proportion : and the frame-work, enriched with delicately chiselled ornament, enclosed sculpture so perfect in every detail that it has never been surpassed.
The Greeks developed what are known as " Orders of Architecture," i.e., the combination of a special form of column with a particular type of entablature. The " Orders " are shown in the illustrations on pages 6 and 7, which give, also, graphic definitions of technical terms and examples of Greek ornamentation and sculpture.
The chief features of Greek architecture are rows of columns (vertical lines), entablature (horizontal lines), pediments (gable formations), and square-headed openings.
A common form of Greek ornamentation
Greek ornamentation was so effective that we make great use of it even at the present time.
Parthenon, Athens. The Parthenon was erected between 454 and 438 B.C. It was designed by Ictinus andCallicrates, and adorned by the famous sculptor, Phidias.
Before leaving Greek architecture the value of situation and climate should be noted. The Greeks built beautiful buildings and adorned them with the instinct of born artists, but nature provided magnificent settings, which they were quick to appreciate and use-rugged mountains sweeping round valleys rich with bloom, a canopy of royal blue sky, with, maybe, a deep blue sea, flecked with white and the glistening sail, of ships.
The best period of Greek building was between 500 and 147 B. c., after which Greece came under the mastery of Rome.
Orders: Doric and Ionic. The Doric Order is plain and massive. The Ionic Order is more refined and graceful than the Doric Order.
Guttae and Garland
The Corinthian Order is, apart from the Capital which is ornamented with the Acanthus leaf, a rich variation of the Ionic.
Part of the Parthenon Frieze. This shows part of the frieze which went round outside of the top of the cella.Here Phidias, the greatest of Greek sculptors, put forth of all his skill.