Balconies

These are designed so that you could step out from your room above to enjoy the fresh air and views.

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Arcades

A series of arches supported by columns is called an arcade. An old architectural feature that originated in Rome. In the Mediterranean, the arcades sheltered walkways in town squares.
Courtesy: Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects. Austinarchitect.com (512) 796-4001

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Courtyards and Patios

The mild climate of the Mediterranean encouraged outdoor living, so the Spanish created lots of spaces to enjoy outside. The patios often had fireplaces which allowed you to linger outside late into the night.

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Ornamental Iron Work

Finely crafted wrought iron work graces stair railings, gates, window grilles and lanterns

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Tower-like Chimneys

A chimney is given grand treatment with moldings and little windows, among other details.
Courtesy: Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects. Austinarchitect.com (512) 796-4001

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Terracotta Roof Tiles

The red clay roof tops give the homes a warm, earthy, rustic look. Often the roof lines are multi-level to create interest and asymmetry

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Painted Tile

A beautifully curved passageway arch reveals another classic feature: Hand-painted tiles

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White Stucco Exterior and Walls

Fresh white paint covers roughly textured stucco — a hand-applied mix of cement, water and sand or lime. The result is an aged-looking Old World surface

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Curves and Arches

Curved steps and graceful archways add charm to the front.

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Guilloche

An ornament used in classical architecture formed by two or more bands twisted together in a continuous series. The openings between the bands can be filled with ornaments.

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Grotesque

A carved or painted decoration that combines human elements with animal and plant elements in an unrecognized motif, i.e. not a centaur, satyr, mermaid, or recognizable religious figure. The name comes from the Italians who discovered designs in the buried ruins of their ancestors’ grottos.

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Groin

The angle formed by meeting or intersection of two vaults. In the Norman era (1066 – 1300) these were left plain, but during the Gothic era these were almost invariably covered with ribs.

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Grille

An arrangement of bars or blocks that protects an opening, either a window or a doorway. The grille is a regular pattern and can be quite ornate.

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Gazebo

A roofed structure with open sides found in public parks or large private gardens which acts as an outdoor room or venue for summer concerts and luncheons.

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Gateway

The frame for the gate or a passageway in a fence or exterior garden wall. In medieval times these were imposing structures built over entrances to provide defense and entrance control.

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Gatehouse

Either a small outbuilding or a relatively large house beside a gateway to a mansion or manor house where the gatekeeper resides to allow or disallow entrance to the grounds.

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Garland

A wreath or festoon of flowers, leaves, fruit, or other objects used to ornament a wall, doorway, mantel or other decorative feature of a building. The garland is found in Renaissance and Baroque designs.

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Gargoyle

Originating in Gothic architecture, Gargoyles are carved human, animal, or demon figures who offer the roof run-off through their open mouths or, in modern times, through winding body parts.

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Gallery

A long narrow room or corridor that is notable for its scale and decorative treatment. Galleries were popular in medieval architecture as the place where people could congregate in a large building.

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Gable

The triangular end of a roof above the eaves which closes the roof on that end. Also the triangular end of a dormer or a triangular cut in a roof for a window or door. For Gothic designs the slope tends to be acute; for Classical buildings the slope is gentler.

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Frieze

Originating from Greek architecture (600 – 400 B.C.), a frieze is a continuous horizontal band of carved or painted decoration. It was originally the middle band of an entablature which lies between the architrave and the cornice.

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Fret

A wall or cornice decoration of Classical origin that is formed by small fillets intersecting each other at right angles. Numerous varieties of this pattern are produced by cutting away the background leaving the rest as grating.

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Fresco

Paintings done on walls using water-based pigments that are added to plaster and applied over a freshly spread plaster. The earliest frescoes are Minoan (1600 B.C.).

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Fractable

A decorated gable end carried above the roofline, a coping that covers the slope of the roof and provides an ornamental silhouette. These were very popular in both Dutch and Muslim architecture. -

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Flying Buttress

Buttresses not fully attached to a building. To allow for the quantity of window space on stone Gothic churches, flying buttresses were introduced to take some of the load onto external support.

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Fortress

A fortress is an urban center that has a massive stone enclosing wall to protect the inhabitants from bands of thieves, vagrants and advancing armies. Fortresses were known in the Mycean civilization (2000 B.C.), all through the middle ages, and are being built again in smaller and more sophisticated form as “gated communities.”

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Flute

Originally from Greek columns, these are hollows or channels cut vertically in the shafts of columns or pilasters. The upper surface can be sharp edged or finished with a radius. The flute is a stone version of a bundle of sticks that were originally used for columns.

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Finial

Finials were originally an ornamented stone carving at the top of a buttress to offer added weight for vertical support. Now they can be any ornament added to the top of a gable, pinnacle, canopy, or spire. These are a Gothic element.

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Festoon

A Renaissance ornament of fruit and vines with leaves that hang between or drape down from a rosette or carved head.

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Fenestration

Derived from the French word fenêtre. It describes the layout of the windows. In medieval times when glass was scarce, this described the layout of wooden panels used to shutter the windows.

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Fanlight

A window over the door that is curved or shaped like a fan. A transom is the rectangular version of the fanlight.

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Façade

The “face” of a building, usually the front. To be a façade as opposed to simply an elevation, the building must have been designed with a particular style, and incorporate design elements such as an im pressive entrance or window surrounds.

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Extrados

The exterior curve of an arch taken from the outside of the voussoirs or the visible boundary of the outside of an arch. These can be quite ornate. (The inside curve of an arch is the intrados or soffit.)

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Exedra

An outdoor or external seating area. Developed during the Greek era as a location for disputations of the learned, the exedra became very popular in Renaissance times for privacy on larger estates during retreats to escape the plague.

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Entablature

On Classical buildings, the entire horizontal mass carried above the columns and abaci. Entablatures generally contain an architrave, a frieze (in Doric this would have triglyphs and metopes), and a cornice.

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Engaged Column

Columns were initially created to support a roof and porch structure. Originally they were free standing. Over time, builders began to build the walls between the columns so that the columns were part of the wall itself. These are called engaged columns. Engaged columns and colonettes can be either structural or decorative.

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Egg-and-Dart

Also called egg-and-anchor or egg-and-tongue, this is a finish decoration for cornices, ovolos, fireplace mantels, and other Classical elements. The first egg -and-dart can be seen in the Acropolis in Athens (500 B.C.)

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Echinus

On Classical columns, there is an ovolo under the abacus. When this is decorated with egg-and-dart or egg-and -anchor it is called an echinus. In modern times, the ovolo is often called an echinus even when there is no design.

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Drip Mold

A projecting string, hood, or molding over doorways, arches, windows, and niches, first installed to direct rainwater away from the opening. Dripstones can be very ornate. They don’t generally extend past the spring of an arch.

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Dormer

A gable end window that pierces through the sloping roof of a bedroom area. (Dormer is French for sleep.)

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Doric Order

The oldest and simplest of the three original Greek orders, the Doric is characterized by a plain column with no base, a shaft with twenty flutings, and a simple capital comprised of an echinus or ovolo, and an equally simple entablature. A Doric entablature generally includes Triglyphs and Metopes.

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Doorway

The entrance to a building, or an apartment in a building. Since the middle ages, the doorway is a striking and important feature of the building showing clearly the style. The size of the doorway and the door surround are important.

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Door Surround

A continuous concrete, wooden, brick, metal or stone “border” around a door that is designed to complement the style and enhance the style of the building.

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Dome

Any roof structure that is curved and spans an ultimately circular base. Squinches and pendentives are used to provide a circular base on a square or rectilinear tower.

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Dichromatic

The use of two colours of tile, brick, or slate used on a surface is termed dichromatic. Slate roofs on churches around 1900 often had dichromatic tiling. Gothic Revival cottages often have dichromatic brickwork to provide a pattern.

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Dentils

An even series of rectangles used as ornament to decorate cornices of classical buildings and fireplace mantels. First found in Greek architecture 400 B.C., the dentil can be found on almost any Classical style building.

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Cupola

A domed or curved roof rising from a building as a decorative element. or a concave ceiling covering a circular or polygonal area. A cupola can be mistaken for a dome.

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Crest

Crests were used to identify both the owners of buildings and the professions that were practiced within buildings. A coat of arms, family crest, or city crest can be found on a building either within a pediment, on a lintel, under a bracket or on a wall.

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Crenelation

Also crenellation, these are a series of depressed openings, like a battlement, but with more space between the openings. A crenelle (or kernel) in medieval times was an opening in a battlement, a loophole through which arrows and missiles could be launched.

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Cornice Return

This deviation from the normal pediment design started in the Baroque age. In Neo-Classical Ontario architecture, cornice returns are frequently employed as a decorative element on the end of a gable or pediment, and also above doorways.

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Cornice Bracket

These are brackets that hold the cornice in place. Modillions hold up the corona, and are sometimes used on cornices as well. The brackets are often paired.

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Courtyard

An open area enclosed by walls or rooms, not accessible to the general public. Usually there is a wrought iron, brick, or stone fence around the areas not confined by buildings.

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Corner

An interior or exterior meeting of two walls, facades, or surfaces, be they square, curved or stepped. Corners can be very ornate.

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Cornice

Originally this element was the wooden overhang of the roof. Translated to stone, brick, iron, and steel, it became any projecting shelf at the top of a ceiling, roof, or pediment. These can be highly decorated.

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Corbie-Steps

Also known as crow- steps, these are the step-like decoration along the upper edge of a gable in Flemish, Dutch, Scottish and Art Nouveau designs. The uppermost step is called the crow-stone.

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Corbel

Corbels are used to support cornices, turrets, brackets, ribs and oriel windows. A corbel is also a stone or piece of wood that supports a superincumbent weight.

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Column

A free standing vertical structural member of a building that supports either a roof, a porch, or a decorative architrave. See also Capital, Shaft, Base, or Scotia. Composite, Corinthian, Doric, Ionic and Tuscan are the basic types.

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Colonnade

A regular series of columns in a straight line or creating a curve or circle. These generally indicate a classical design, but are also used on modern structures.

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Composite

This term can apply to columns, capitals or façades. It means a mixture of two or sometimes, three, of the major styles: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

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Colonette

A column used as a decorative element on the side or jamb of a window or door, or a decorative element in a compound pier.

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Coffer

A rectangular or square recessed area in a ceiling. Sometimes these emphasize the roof beams; other times they are carved, molded, or ornately decorated.

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Clocktower

A timepiece or clock mounted on a stand alone tower or tower-like portion of a building. Clocks have traditionally been attached to municipal buildings and buildings of community significance.

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Clerestory

Any row of windows that is above eye level and allows light into a room. This is also the term for the upper level of Gothic cathedrals above the triforium.

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Cincture

A fillet or ring of moldings that separates either the base of a column from the shaft or the shaft of the column from the capital.

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Chimney

The stone, metal or masonry of a fireplace that extends up from the fireplace through the roof and carries the smoke outside.

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Château

There are many styles of chateaux all originating in France. The most renowned are those in the Loire valley built during the late medieval and Renaissance periods between 1300 and 1600. See also Palazzo.

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Ceiling

The top interior finish of a room which hides the structure and support of the roof. Ceilings can be painted, stuccoed, carved, or covered with tin plate, gold, or sculpture.

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Castellation

Any decoration on a building to make it look like a castle, usually a notched or indented parapet originally for protection so inhabitants could shoot through the openings in combat. See also crenellation and battlement.

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Caryatid

This Greek column design is taken from the Erectheum in Athens (450 B.C.). The women of Carya refused to be taken as slaves by the advancing Greeks. For this they were immortalized in the columns that support the porch. Since then, any column with robed women can bear the same name.

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Cartouche

Taken from the French name for a scroll of paper, this is an ornament from the late Renaissance or Baroque era that bears the name of the building’s patron on a paper with rolled up edges.

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Caprice

A caprice is a design element that is whimsical, light, and fanciful

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Capital

The uppermost finish or decoration on a column, pier, or pilaster. The style or origin of the column or pier is indicated by the design of the capital as well as the base and shaft (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, etc).

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Cantilever

A rigid structural member that projects horizontally well beyond the vertical support.

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Canopy

An ornamental projection over doors, windows and openings or, in Gothic architecture, elaborate coverings over niches and figures.

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Campanile

A bell tower or any tower containing a bell, generally attached to a church. It is generally associated with an Italian or Roman Catholic church, and is often free-standing.

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Buttress

An exterior masonry projection from a wall to create additional strength and support for roof vaults.

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Broken Pediment

A Baroque and Rococco style of pediment that is purposely broken either at the bottom or at the top for decorative effect.

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Bracket

An ornamental projection from the face of a wall providing visual or structural support for a statue, cornice, balcony, or window.

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Boss

From the Gothic era, an ornament placed at the intersection of ribs in a ceiling whether vaulted or flat.

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Blind Arch

An arch that has been filled in by brick or stone. This could be original decoration or part of a renovation.

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Belvedere

Belle vedere means beautiful view in Italian. A belvedere is an architectural feature on a roof, in a garden, or on a terrace, that affords a beautiful view.

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Beam

The principal horizontal members of a roof, often attached to girders or a main beam which would be larger.

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Bay Window

A window that projects out from a wall, in a semicircular, rectangular, or polygonal design. Used frequently in Gothic and Victorian designs.

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Battlement

A design for a parapet that has alternating solid parts and openings, originally used for defense, but later used as a decorative motif.

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Base

The division of a column on which the shaft is placed, or the lower part of a pillar or wall. The torus and scotia form the elements of the base.

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Barrel Vault

Originally found in Roman architecture, an extended arch shape covering a walkway, gallery or entrance.

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Baroque

A style of architecture that is characterized by sculptural, undulating surfaces, ovals instead of circles, and exaggerated classically based forms.

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Bargeboard

Bargeboard was used in early English wood construction. Now it is term for the decorative wooden edging on Gothic Revival and Victorian houses.

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Banding

Different materials, colours or textures used in horizontal bands along a wall.

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Band

A continuous horizontal molding or fascia around a building or on a wall that makes a division in the wall.

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Balustrade

A railing system, generally around a balcony or on a second level, consisting of balusters and a top rail.

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Baluster

A vertical member used to support a stair railing or a railing in a continuous banister.

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Balcony

A platform projecting from a wall directly outside a door on an upper level of a building. Balconies can be continuous (wraparound), that is, having several doors open onto them, or discrete, that is, accessible through, and adjacent to, one door alone.

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Art Deco-Art Nouveau

An early twentieth-century decorative style characterized by ornate craftsmanship and colourful ornament.

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Architrave

The lowest division of the entablature in classical architecture. The main lintel or beam spanning from column to column. Concentric arch moldings which make an archivolt are also considered architraves.

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Arch

A basic architectural structure composed of bricks or stones so arranged as by mutual pressure to support one another.

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Arcade

A series of arches, either open or closed with masonry, supported by columns or piers.

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Arabesque

Used by the Arabs and Saracens (or Moors) in Spain, this ornament is a painted, inlaid or mosaic low relief of geometric or botanical patterns.

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Appliqué

An ornamental or decorative material applied to the finish of a structure, not of the structure’s original material.

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Apex

The highest point of a structure. The apex can be plain or decorated with an acroterion, an acropodium, a symbol, or a finial.

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