Neoclassical Architecture, What is neoclassical architecture

Neoclassical architecture speaks to what is neoclassical architecture and define neoclassical architecture in buildings.

This architecture was first introduced to North America in the early 1820s and remained in vogue until the late 1850s. It took over from the Palladian style in several different ways and introduced a new form of classicism to building design.

Neoclassicism was a product of the romantic movement which was a product of fascination of the long ago. During this period archaeological work was underway in Italy and Greece in an effort to understand Europe’s ancient past. Architectural forms were discovered which were different from the familiar Renaissance inspired design. What was discovered was simpler, bolder and less ornate buildings which quickly influenced new design in North America and Europe.

The symmetry of the classicism remained along with general horizontal proportions, moderate pitched roofs and classical detail. The Neoclassic is different from the Palladian in principal in the use of classical detail taken directly from Greek and Roman prototypes rather than from the Renaissance design.

The details include Greek and Roman columns modelled directly upon the originals (Ionic and Doric), ancathus leaves, Greek fretwork, key designs and eared trim. Also popular were elliptical fanlights, blind arcades and parapets along the roofline.

Neoclassical design differed in the treatment of surfaces and composition as well. Palladian architecture favoured pronounced mouldings and surface textures while the Neoclassical favoured flatter almost linear design. Neoclassical buildings were often single unified blocks with no wings unlike the Palladian and on occasion in the shape of a Greek temple, which is a rectangle with a Doric or Ionic colonnade either on three or four sides of the building or just on one short side, in front of the entrance.

Stone is the preferred material for the larger public buildings and wood and brick for smaller structures. In general, floor plans are symmetrical, with the rooms opening from a central hall. Decorative details were used for interior decoration as well, which included colonnettes around chimney openings, classical inspired cornices, ancanthus leaves in ceiling rosettes, eared trim around windows and doors, key designs and fretwork.

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