How Does Ancient Greek Architecture Influence Today

Origin Story of Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture is one of the oldest and most influential architectural systems in the world. It is the foundation for many other forms of architectural designs that developed from it, such as Roman, Doric and even the Australian style of architectural designs. The earliest evidence of ancient Greek architecture can be found in remains from the Minoan civilization that existed in the Island of Crete from 3000 BC, but detailed records of this architectural style date back to 600 BC and the Architecture of the Ancient Greeks.

Defining Elements of Ancient Greek Architecture

At the heart of ancient Greek Architecture are three defining elements, these are: proportions, harmony and balance, and the use of natural materials. The Greeks were faithful to the use of mathematics, using geometry to determine column heights and complex arches in the form of the Archaic and Classical styles of the architecture. Ancient Greek Architecture is further distinguished by the ornamental sculptures and intricately carved stonework found on its edifices.

Infrastructure of Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture consists of two main styles, the Ionic and the Doric. The Ionic order is known for its slender columns and ornate capitals with an elegant scroll-shaped design. Doric columns are thicker, flatter and more rectangular in shape, mostly paired with the iconic Corinthian style, which is more curved and designed with detailed flourishes. The Parthenon is the most recognised ancient Greek architecture, which is a temple in Athens made from white marble and dedicated to the goddess Athena. Ancient Greeks also manufactured aqueducts and basilicas, large open public spaces also used for commerce and civil matters.

Influence on Modern Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture has a profound influence on modern architecture, being one of the fundamental source of ideas for many architectural designs of the 21st century. Greek revival architecture was especially popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, with monuments such as the White House, the White House colonnades, and the Jefferson Memorial, having strong influences from Greek template architectures. On the other hand, modern-day infrastructure such as Bridges, arches and theatres, count on the principles used in ancient Greek architecture for the columns, arches and domes to support its weight. Modern cities like New York and Paris, have even adopted these architectural styles, allowing them to create bold and impressive structures.

Implications of Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture has had a wider impact than creating aesthetically pleasing structures, as it has also been revolutionary in creating a functional and stable infrastructure. Its affordable cost, ease of construction and true mathematical proportions allowed The Ancient Greeks to build cities with up to 500,000 inhabitants in population. Furthermore, due to its mathematical properties, Ancient Greek architecture could withstand the test of time with monuments such as the Parthenon standing for thousands of years, forming a bridge in our evolvement of history.

Impact on Society and Culture

Ancient Greek Architecture has also had an impact on our culture and society. Its grandeur has been an inspiration for literature, artwork, sculpture and even performances. In addition, these majestic structures have been used as religious centres, cultural hubs and public spaces. The Parthenon for example, despite initially serving as a place for divine worship, also became a place of civil discussion and intellectual debates.

Canopy of Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture has also expanded its reaches by influencing other cultures such as the Persian Empire, India and Rome for example. Ancient Greek Architecture is often characterized by a canopy-like design, that would provide the perfect amount of shade without sacrificing the elegant beauty of the building. Some masterpieces such as the Taj Mahal in India, St Peters Basilica in Rome, and the Lotus Temple in India, have all taken cues from the Ancient Greek architectural style, using its canopy-like design to create beautiful and grandiose edifices.

Materials used in Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture is known to use two main building materials, stone and marble. Despite the complexity and beauty of their designs, most of the monuments are actually made out of common elements and materials such as limestone, marble, wood and terracotta. These materials were easy to source locally, allowing them easy and inexpensive access to the necessary construction materials.

Preservation of Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture is often found in ruin, making it a challenge for modern-day architects to repurpose and preserve these ancient structures. Geotechnical assessment and 3D modelling software are being used today to preserve these architectural designs, while still allowing them to be used for their current purpose. For example, in Greece, the Greek authorities are using 3D modelling techniques to study the Acropolis, a ruined ancient site, to study the more fragile parts of the structure to prevent their further decay.

Sustainable Approach to Ancient Greek Architecture

In the 21st century, Ancient Greek architecture is also revamped and finding a place in modern designs. The sustainability of Ancient Greek Architecture is being further developed, from a need to conserve energy and reduce our emissions. From Adaptive re-use to public art, modern interpretations of ancient Greek Architecture are being heavily relied upon in creating a more sustainable future.

Creating Ecological Form in Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture has popped up all around us, from the classic cinema seats to the office chairs. Instead of having a box-like design, these new creations take cues from Ancient Greek Architecture, using ecologically-driven principles in the form of curved seating, backrests and arm rests. They not only provide maximum comfort but also prevent back issues, as well as being a stylish tribute to the Ancient Greeks.

Restoration Projects of Ancient Greek Architecture

Archivists and historians have also taken steps to restore Ancient Greek Architecture with several conservation and restoration projects in progress. The Acropolis restoration project, initiated in 1975, aimed to preserve the monuments from the danger of natural erosion, while allowing the structure to retain its original design and beauty. In France, the Palace of Versailles is undergoing extensive restoration, with its monuments being purposefully designed to look like a recreation of Ancient Greek Architecture.

Infinite Possibilities of Ancient Greek Architecture

Ancient Greek Architecture will remain an influence in modern day architecture for eternity, pushing us to explore more efficient and beautiful ways of creating structures. From the streets of Paris, to the Far East and India, the principles of Ancient Greek architecture will forever be a reminder of a creative civilization, and the immortal beauty of its designs.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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