Architectural terms to help you in your studies and practice…
This Glossary is still being developed. Make sure you come keep coming back to check it out.
Abut (verb) – To touch at one end or side, or lie adjacent to.
Abutment (noun) – The act or process of abutting.
Acoustics (noun) – The science of studying sound, including its generation, transmission and reception.
Adjacent (adjective) – Lying near, close, or just before, after, or facing. Adjoining or neighbouring. Related or very close to a specified topic, activity, etc.
A-frame (noun) – A support structure shaped like the letter A.
Aisle (noun) – A passage or space between rows of seats in a building such as a theatre, church or bus.
Aesthetic (adjective) – Relating to the philosophy of aesthetics and appearance. Concerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
Aesthetics (noun) The branch of philosophy dealing with notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc. In art, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art, or design, and the principles underlying or justifying such judgments.
Alcove (noun) – A recess or partly enclosed extension connected to or forming a room.
Alloy (noun) – A metallic solid or liquid that is composed of a homogeneous mixture of two or more metals or of metals and non-metal or metalloid elements, usually for the purpose of imparting or increasing specific characteristics or properties.
Amalgamation (noun) – The process of combining, consolidating or uniting two or more things.
Ante-room (noun) – A small outer room that leads to another room and that is often used as a waiting room.
Arcade (noun) – A series of arches supported by columns, piers, or pillars, either freestanding or attached to a wall to form a gallery. They may be structural or for decorative purposes.
Arch (noun) – A curved and symmetrical masonry construction for spanning an opening and supporting the weight of the wall, roof or structure above it.
Architrave (noun) – A moulded or decorated frame around a panel or an opening, such as a door or window.
Architecture (noun) – The profession of designing buildings, open areas, communities, and other artificial constructions and environments, usually with some regard to aesthetic effect. Architecture often includes design or selection of furnishings and decorations, supervision of construction work, and the examination, restoration, or remodelling of existing buildings.
Area (noun) – A roughly bounded part of the space on a surface; a region.
Articulate (verb) – Pronounce something clearly and distinctly.
Artificial (adjective) – Made by humans, especially in imitation of something natural.
Assemblage (noun) – A group of things gathered or collected together.
Atrium (noun) – The main or central room of a Roman house, open to the sky and often having a pool for the collection of rainwater. A skylit central court in a contemporary building or house.
Attic (noun) – The part of a building, usually a house, directly under a roof.
Awning (noun) – A roof-like structure, often made of canvas or plastic, that serves as a shelter, as over a storefront, window, door, or deck.
Axis (noun) – A central line about which a three-dimensional body or figure is symmetrical.
Axes (noun) – Plural of axis.
Axonometric (adjective) – Designating a method of projection (axonometric projection) in which a three-dimensional object is represented by a drawing (axonometric drawing) having all axes drawn to exact scale, resulting in the optical distortion of diagonals and curves.
Balance (noun) – A situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
Balcony (noun) – A platform o the outside of a building enclosed by a wall, balustrade or handrail, with access through a window or door.
Baluster (noun) – Any number of closely spaced supports for a railing. See also balustrade.
Balustrade (noun) – A railing with supporting balusters.
Banister (noun) – A single upright at the side of a staircase.
Baroque (adjective) – A style of architecture originating in Italy in the 17th century . Characterized by free and sculptural use of classical orders and ornament, and by forms in elevation and plan suggesting movement.
Base (noun) – The bottom support of something.
Basilica (noun) – Originally referred to an ancient roman public building. An early Christian or medieval church originating in Italy. Used to describe rectangular buildings with a central nave and aisles and a raised platform at the opposite end to the door.
Bauhaus (noun) – A school of design established in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius and moved to Dessau in 1925 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933.
Bauhaus (adjective) – Of or relating to the concepts, ideas or styles developed at the Bauhaus. Emphasis on functional design in architecture and the applied arts.
Beam (noun) – Any of various long pieces of metal, wood, stone etc. that is manufactured or shaped for use as a rigid member or part of a structure.
Bespoke (adjective) – Made to order or custom-made or designed.
BIM (adjective) – Building Information Modelling. A digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility.
Brace (noun) – Something that holds together or in place as a clasp or a clamp.
Bracket (noun) – A support of metal or wood, projecting from the wall to hold the weight or a shelf, cornice or other architectural or building part.
Brick (noun) – A block of clay hardened by drying in the sun or in a kiln and used for paving or building.
Bridge (noun) – A structure spanning and providing passage over a river, chasm, road or other.
Brief (nou ) – An Architectural Brief is a short or concise summary of the client or project requirements. It can include site information, functional requirements, cost and budget, programs and timeframes, and other specific requirements.
Brutalism (noun) – Modern architecture style that emerged in the 1950’s. Uses basic building processes with no concern for visual appearance. Characteristic include large, massive, monolithic and blocky appearance with a rigid geometry and use of concrete.
Bubble diagram (noun) – A diagram which visually represents information in the form of a series of bubbles. Usually shows the relative size and proportion of physical spaces and their relationship to one another in plan.
Built Environment (noun) – Man-made structures, features, and facilities viewed collectively as an environment in which people live and work.
Bulkhead (noun) – A boxlike structure, often suspended from a ceiling, to cover the underside of equipment or services such as air-conditioning or the underside of a staircase.
Buttress (noun) – A stone or brick structure built against a wall to strengthen or support it.
Byzantine (adjective) – An ornate architectural style which developed in the Byzantine Empire and spread to Italy, Russia and elsewhere. Characterised by religious wall paintings and icons and churches with many domes.
Cantilever (noun) – Any rigid structural member projecting from a vertical support, especially one in which the projection is great in relation to the depth, so that the upper part is in tension and the lower part in compression.
Campanile (noun) – A bell tower, especially one freestanding from the body of a church.
Campus (noun) – The grounds, often including the buildings, of a college, university or school.
Canal (noun) – An artificial waterway for navigation, irrigation, etc.
Cantilever (noun) – Any rigid structural member projecting either vertically or horizontally from a support, especially one in which the projection is great in relation to the depth, so that the upper part is in tension and the lower part in compression.
Casement (noun) – A window sash opening on hinges that are generally attached to the upright side of its frame. Also called a casement window.
Castle (noun) – A fortified, usually walled residence, as of a prince or noble in feudal times.
Ceiling (noun) – The overhead interior surface of a room.
Cellar (noun) – A room, or set of rooms, for the storage of food, fuel, etc., wholly or partly underground and usually beneath a building.
Cement (noun) – Any of various calcined mixtures of clay and limestone, usually mixed with water and sand, gravel, etc., to form concrete, that are used as a building material.
Charette (noun) – A final, intensive effort to finish a project, especially an architectural design project, before a deadline.
Chimney (noun) – A part of a structure that rises above a roof and allows smoke, gases etc. of a fire to escape.
Circulation (noun) – The act of movement around something; a path or a passage way.
Clarity (noun) – Clear or transparent to the eye. Free from ambiguity.
Classical (noun) – A style of architecture derived from the principles of Greek and Roman architecture. A style of architecture that has a highly refined state.
Classical Order (noun) – A style of architecture defined by its proportions and characteristic profiles, most recognized by the column used. The three orders of architecture include the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
Clerestory (noun) – A high section of wall that contains a window above eye level.
Colonnade (noun) – A series of regularly spaced columns supporting an entablature and usually one side of a roof.
Column (noun) – A rigid, slender, upright support, composed of relatively few pieces.
Compression (verb) – The act of compressing or forcing into a smaller space.
Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) – The use of computer techniques in designing products, especially involving the use of computer graphics. Abbreviated to CAD.
Concept (noun) – A general notion or idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars.
Concept Diagram (noun) – A diagram that defines the qualities or characteristics of a concept or idea in a visual form.
Construct (verb) – To build or form by putting together parts.
Construct (noun) – An image, idea or theory, especially a complex one formed form a number of simpler elements.
Construction (noun) – Something that is constructed. A structure.
Contemporary (noun) – A style of buildings of the present day.
Context (noun) – The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular situation, condition, environment etc.
Composition (noun) – The act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.
Coping (noun) – Covering for the top of a wall.
Corbel (noun) – A structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry weight. A type of a bracket.
Corbusian (adjective) – Of or relating to eh characteristics or qualities of the architect and the work of Le Cporbusier.
Corinthian Order (noun) – The Corinthian order is one of the Classical orders of architecture, characterised by its long, thin columns. It is the third order, precede by the Doric and Ionic orders.
Cornerstone (noun) – A stone uniting two masonry walls at an intersection.
Cornice (noun) – Ornamental horizontal moulding or band, often used to conceal the corner join between a wall and a celing.
Crit/ Critique (noun) – Process of review, criticism, evaluation and judgement of architectural work.
Curate (verb) – To pull together, sift through, and select for presentation, as a final collection of content.
Curtain wall (noun) – An exterior wall of a framed building having no structural function.
Curvilinear (adjective) – Consisting of or bounded by curved lines.
Cylinder (noun) – A solid or hollow object with two identical flat ends that are circular or elliptical, and one curved side, similar to a tin can.
Dead Load (noun) – A constant load in a structure (such as a bridge, building, or machine) that is due to the weight of the members, the supported structure, and permanent attachments or accessories
Deconstruction (noun) – The analytical examination of something by breaking it down into parts.
Design Process (noun) – A process that generates a solution to a problem through the process of testing, experimenting, researching and iterating.
Design Thinking (noun) – An approach to problem solving that analyses people’s behavior and develops a solution that ensures the human needs are met.
Detail (noun) – An individual part or element of a whole.
Diagonal (adjective) – Connecting two non-adjacent angles, corners or points.
Diagram (noun) – A drawing or plan that outlines and explains the parts or operation of something. Usually consists of a line drawing.
Diagrammatic (adjective) – In the form of a diagram.
Dimension (noun) – A measurement in length, width and thickness.
Dissonance (noun) – Disagreement or incongruity.
Dome (noun) – A vault, having a circular plan and usually in the form of a portion of a sphere, so constructed as to exert an equal thrust in all directions.
Door (noun) – A movable, usually solid, barrier for opening and closing an entranceway, cupboard, cabinet, or the like, commonly turning on hinges or sliding in grooves.
Doorway (noun) – The passage or opening into a building, room, etc., commonly closed and opened by a door; portal.
Doric Order (noun) – The Doric order is one of the Classical orders of architecture, characterised by the simple circular capitals at the top of the columns. It is the first order, followed by the Ionic and Corinthian orders.
Dormer (noun) – A vertical window in a projection from a sloping roof.
Drain (noun) – Something such as a pipe or conduit through which liquid releases or drains.
Duality (noun) – The quality or state of having two different things.
Duct (noun) – A tube, canal, pipe or conduit by which fluid, air or other substance is conducted or conveyed.
Duplex (noun) – Having two parts. Often refers to a residential structure with two separate dwellings.
Dwelling (noun) – A building or shelter to live in. A place of residence; home; abode.
Eave (noun) – The edge of a roof that sticks out over the top of a wall.
Elevation (noun) – The front or side of a building as shown on a drawing.
Ephemeral (adjective) – Lasting for only a short time.
ESD (Ecologically Sustainable Development, sometimes referred to as Environmentally Sustainable Design) (noun) – Meeting current needs through design and development, while preserving eco-systems for the future.
Esoteric (adjective) – Unusual and understood by only a small number of people with special knowledge.
Façade (noun) – The front of a building, especially decorative or imposing.
Fenestration (noun) – The arrangement or patterns of windows or openings in a building or structure.
Finial (noun) – A distinctive section or ornament at the apex or top of a roof, canopy or awning on a building or structure.
Flashing -noun) – A strip of metal used to stop water penetrating the junction of a roof with another surface.
Floor Plan (noun) – A scale drawing showing the arrangement of rooms, spaces, walls and openings in one level or floor of a building or structure.
Fluting (noun) – A groove or set of grooves forming a surface decoration.
Folly (noun) – An ornamental building or structure with no practical, obvious or functional purpose, often in a garden or park.
Form (noun) – The visible shape, volume or configuration of something.
Frieze (noun) – A broad horizontal band of sculpted, carved or painted decoration, especially on a wall or vertical surface near a ceiling.
Gable (noun) – The portion of the front side of a building enclosed by or masking the end of a pitched roof.
Gallery (noun) – A raised area often with a stepped or sloping floor in a church, theatre or public building providing space for audience, exhibitions, etc.
Gargoyle (noun) – A grotesque, carved human or animal ace sticking out from the gutter of a building and acting as a spout for water.
Gazebo (noun) – A small roofed structure that is used for outdoor entertainment or dining, and has screens on all sides.
Genius Loci (noun) – The dominant character or atmosphere of a place.
Gentrification (noun) – The process of renovating and improving a house or district to conform to middle-class taste.
Georgian (noun) – A style of design or architecture in England from 1714-1811.
Ghetto (noun) – A section of a city, especially a slum area, populated by a particular ethnic or other minority group.
Gothic (noun) – A style of architecture from western Europe in the 12th-16th centuries. Characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, flying buttresses with large windows and decoration.
Grid (noun) – A network of lines that cross each other to form a series of squares or rectangles.
Gutter (noun) – A shallow trough fixed beneath the edge of a roof for removing rainwater.
Hierarchy (noun) – Differences in elements (eg. planes, spaces, forms) implies the level of importance. Importance is achieved by giving a form or shape an exceptional size; a unique shape or a strategic location.
Homogenous (adjective) – Consisting of all parts of the same kind or alike.
Hybrid (noun) – A thing made by combining two or more different elements.
Icon (noun) – A graphic, image or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something sacred. Revered and idolized
Iconic (adjective) – Of, relating to or characteristic of an icon.
Igloo (noun) – A type of dome-shaped shelter built from blocks of snow, traditionally used by inuits.
Institution (noun) – An organization founded for a religious, educational, professional or social purpose.
Insulate (verb) – To cover, line or separate with a material that prevents or reduces the passage or transfer or leakage of heat, electricity or sound.
Insulation (noun) – Material used for insulating.
Ionic Order (adjective) – One of the three orders of classical architecture. See also Corinthian Order and Doric Order. It is most recognizable by its columns which are made of a base, a shaft, and volute on top. In the Ionic Order the volute is shaped like scrolls or spirals.
Isometric (adjective) – A method of architectural drawing showing projection or perspective in which the three principal dimensions (length x width x height) are represented by three axes 120 degrees apart.
Jamb (noun) – Either side or surface of a doorway, arch, window or other opening.
Jetty (noun) – A pier or structure of stones, piles, or the like, projecting into a body of water to protect the harbour, deflect the current etc.
Joint (noun) – The place at which two things, or separate parts of one thing, are joined or united, either rigidly or fixed, or in a way as to allow movement.
Joist (noun) – A series of small, parallel members made of timber, steel, reinforced concrete or other, for supporting floors, ceilings or other.
Juxtaposition (noun) – Two or more things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
Kitchen (noun) – A room or space for cooking.
Keystone (noun) – The wedge shaped piece at the top of an arch, used for holding the other pieces in place.
Keyhole (noun) – A hole for inserting s key in a lock.
Lamp (noun) – A device for giving light.
Lantern (noun) – A transparent or translucent, usually portable, case for enclosing a light and protecting it from the wind, rain, etc.
Lattice (noun) – A structure of crossed or woven wooden or metal strips usually arranged to form a diagonal pattern of open spaces between the strips.
Ledge (noun) – A narrow, shelf-like flat protrusion projecting from part of a wall.
Library (noun) – A space or building or set of rooms set aside to contain books, magazines, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study or a reference.
Light (noun) – Something that makes things visible or creates illumination.
Line (noun) – A mark or a stroke made with a pen, pencil, tool etc. on a surface.
Lintel (noun) – A horizontal member supporting the weight above an opening such as a door or window.
Live load (noun) – The weight of people or goods in a building or structure. Able to be moved.
Load (noun) – A heavy or bulky thing that is to be carried or supported.
Load bearing (adjective) A building structure such as a wall, beam or column that carries a load.
Loggia (noun) – A gallery or room with one or more open sides, often part of a house and one side open to a garden.
Louvre (noun) – A set of angled slats fixed or hung at regular intervals in a door, screen, or shutter to allow air and / or light to pass through.
Macro See also Mega and Micro.
Mega See also Macro and Micro.
Micro See also Mega and Macro.
Natural Light (noun) – A source of illumination which comes from the sun.
Nave (noun) – The long area of a church, extending from the main entrance to the chancel or altar, generally used by the congregation.
Node (noun) – A centre point in a network or diagram where lines or pathways meet or intersect.
Nook (noun) – A corner or recess, often offering seclusion or security.
Non-structural (adjective) – A part of a building or structure which does not bear a load.
Office (noun) – A building, room or collection of rooms used for professional or commercial work.
Order or Order of architecture (noun) – Several styles of classic or Neoclassical architecture that are defined by a particular type of column including Corinthian, Ionic and Doric.
Organic architecture – Designing and building structures and spaces that are balanced with, derived from or integrate with natural surroundings and environment and forms.
Ornament (noun) – An accessory or detail used to enhance the appearance of something to which it is added or part of.
Orthographic Drawing (noun) – Representation of a three-dimensional object using several two-dimensional views of the object, including Plan, Section and Elevation.
Overhang (noun) – A part of something that hangs or extends over something else including a roof or eaves.
Program/ Programme 1
Program/ Programme 2
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Tectonics (in architecture) (noun) – The science or art of construction both in relation to use and artistic design. In architecture this refers to showing how something is made by revealing all the pieces and parts of a structure.
Terrace (noun) – A flat raised area.
Texture (noun) – The feel, appearance or consistency of a surface or sub-surface.
Threshold (noun) – A defined zone that creates a space to move between one space into the next. A strip of wood or stone to forming the bottom of a doorway and crossed to move between spaces.
Trancept (noun) – In a cross-shaped church either of two parts forming the arms of the cross shape, projecting at right angles form the nave.
Transformation (noun) – A change in form, nature or appearance.
Transient (adjective) – Lasting only for a short time and impermanent.
Truncated (verb) – To shorten something by cutting off the top or end.
Truss (noun) – A framework consisting of rafters, posts and struts that supports a bridge, roof or other structure.
Tudor (noun) – A style of British architecture, mainly domestic, that used Renaissance elements onto the Perpendicular Gothic style between 1485 and 1558.
Turret (noun) – A small tower on top of a larger tower or at the corner of a building or wall, typically of a castle.
Tuscan Order (noun) – One of two Classical orders developed by the Romans. It is similar to the Doric Order but follows the ratios of the ionic Order.
Typology (noun) – A classification or grouping according to a general type. In architecture this often relates to the type of building such as school, house, shop, pavilion, hospital etc.
Typography (noun) – The style and appearance of printed matter.
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