Architectural columns are found on all types of buildings, such as magnificent homes, spectacular churches, resorts, and luxurious hotels. The reasons why they are still such popular elements are not hard to recognize: these elements bestow beauty, elegance, and an appearance of strength wherever they are found. But when was the column first invented? How have architectural columns changed in terms of how they are manufactured and used over the millennia. This article will provide a brief overview of the history and current status of the architectural feature known as the column.
The First Columns
The Greeks and Romans are often credited with inventing architectural columns, but it was actually the Egyptians that first crafted them. Working with stone, the Ancient Egyptians crafted massive columns that had the appearance of bundled reeds in approximately 2600 BC. The embellishments found on these elements suggest that, even back then, the craftsmen who built them were concerned with function and aesthetics. The columns later crafted by the Persians were even more elaborate, featuring capitals that depicted a variety of animals.
The Development of the Classical Column Orders
The reason why architectural columns are so often associated with the societies of Ancient Greece and Rome is that it was these civilizations that developed the designs that would eventually become known as the classical orders. Columns found on Greek and Roman buildings could be fluted, often included bases and meticulously carved capitals, and were frequently crowned with grand entablatures. Stone was the most frequently used column material, so these elements were obviously exceptionally heavy and difficult to transport and install. The architectural columns of the Greeks and Romans provided essential support to buildings, and had to be crafted to be capable of supporting an extraordinary amount of weight.
Architectural Columns Today
Some of the columns seen on buildings today are structural, but many are considered decorative, added to building exteriors and interiors for their aesthetic value. There are a few points with respect to these modern features that are worth noting here. The first is that, in recent decades, more lightweight materials have been invented. GFRP columns and GFRC columns, for instance, weigh much less than those crafted from stone. This has made the transportation and installation of columns easier than it was in the past. These materials are also moldable, which has made many more designs possible. Another important fact to note is that columns are now used in a larger number of applications. Once usually found on the outside of massive buildings, GFRP columns are now used to partition indoor areas, surround gazebos, and even mark the front doors of private homes.
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