Architectural Elements


Tent House in Queensland

This forest clearing addressing a pocket of rainforest in the Noosa hinterland, is approached through a typical neighbourhood of rural houses and acreage dwellings. The journey to the Tent House by Sparks Architects continues from the street via a winding bush track through the forest which acts as a threshold between the constructed world and that of the clearing, a place remnant of early settlement in the region; a camp.

The brief called for a 3 bedroom family dwelling with a central open plan living and kitchen space. The architectural response is a duel concept pairing an operable insulated box for cooler months that allows habitation to a tent-like amenity in warmer months. The walls, or doors, of the box slide open manually, while the roof, or lid, has an automated sliding operation. With the roof fully open the translucent tent membrane comes into view and a new volume, light, and material is experienced. As the doors slide open the forest wall becomes an architectural element; a natural wall that contains a broader space of the house plan, stretching it across the remaining clearing and garden. The tent roof serves as a ‘fly roof’ above the insulated roof and takes the brunt of the heat load. The void between the two roof elements allows for a simple stack ventilation process. The varied pitches of the tent roof maximise winter sun penetration and protects the east, west and southern exposures.

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The Art of Ola Kolehmainen 

The Finnish photographer Ola Kolehmainen graduated from the Department of Journalism at the University of Helsinki in 1992, and had his first exhibit in 1994. In 1999, he graduated from the MA in Photography at the University of Art and Design at Helsinki (now called Aalto University). 

Kolehmainen chooses large-format images of modern architectures, façade details or elements of an interior room. As opposed to architectural photography, it doesn’t interest him that the buildings be recognized. By means of a selection of details, he creates his own style which comes to be abstract compositions.

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The grand bridge named Judicael’s Crossing was constructed in 8:56 Blessed to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Judicael I, as a testament to the skill of Orlais’ greatest engineers. The bridge replaced an ancient fallen highway leading to the Pools of the Sun. At the bridge’s ceremonial dedication, the emperor’s sister, Grand Duchess Leontine, led a dozen nobles and their entourages in a stroll across the bridge to the hot springs, where they took the waters.

Judicael’s Crossing’s structural supports bear architectural and decorative elements that mimic those of the ancient Tevinter highway it replaced. One can see their like several miles away in the archways rising above the village of Sahrnia. The Andrastian statues that decorate the walkway, however, are entirely Orlesian in style.


Theater of Mount Ietas

Mount Ietas, Sicily, Italy

4th century BCE

The Monte Jato theater was built in the late fourth century BCE probably imitating the most famous theater of the time- that of Dionysius in Athens.

Both the auditorium of the theater scene of Mount Ietas were rich with various module stone sculptures; the decorative ensemble has been reconstructed on the basis of elements found in their original location, in collapsed position or reused in later buildings or set aside as a result of their disposal.

The lower tiers of the auditorium (proedria) were probably ornate at the lateral ends by lion’s paws, as suggested by the discovery of a paw. The two east and west sides of the auditorium, in front of the stage building, lay a foundation on which was placed the limestone statue of a crouching lion, who turned his head toward the scene. The original stage building was embellished by various decorative elements, but the most notable are made up of four limestone sculptures in high relief, and larger than life reproducing two male figures (Satyrs) and two women (maenads) who were part of the action Dionysus, god of the theater, maenads and satyrs have the attributes that distinguish them as followers of Dionysus: the maenads wear peblo Doric and carrying on her head a crown of ivy leaves and fruits; satyrs, with beards and equine ears, the loins and girded by a fur skirt and lead to strap an ivy crown. It is statues with decorative function but also structural, scenic architecture support;  Mount Ieta can be counted among the earliest examples of this type of architectural decoration for that subject and composition of the figures with arms raised and folded back, it features typical of theaters in Sicily. At the current state it remains dubious the exact location of 4 sculptures as part of the stage. Each is composed of three superimposed blocks, stuccoed and painted origin. And their state of preservation is uneven. The sculptures of satyrs, are in bad state, and were spotted embedded in medieval buildings: the maenads, best preserved, were found west of the stage. The scenic roof of the building was adorned by acroteria (architectural elements figured). Three of these, palm-type “flame” shape with acanthus at the center, already attested in the Parthenon of Athens were found collapsed in the northwestern area of ​​the agora and were attributed to the eastern end of the scene. Made in the same limestone of the other decorative elements of the theater, including menhaden and satyrs, the palms of Iato have narrow types and stylistic similarities with three acroteria from Soluntum, whose relevance context is not known. There is no news acroteria similar to those of Monte Jato from other theaters of Sicily.

Looking Around: A Guide to Architecture

Hello Friends! After some feedback, I’ve decided to go back to my roots and do some less esoteric content than architectural theory (which I will, of course, return to - I’m thinking about starting a not-regular blog or a podcast about it.)  The purpose of this series is to give people the vocabulary they need to talk about houses and architecture in general! 

I don’t know if y’all know this but there’s a lot of different parts and styles of architecture. Everything in architecture has a name, whether it’s ornament, architectural styles, or stuff like parts of a roof - either way, we should all be empowered to talk about architecture. 

The good news is we all already know quite a bit about architecture.

Architecture speaks to us through personal experience. By looking at it long enough, you start to get a feel for it. Even amateurs can tell whether or not a house is new or old, even when the exterior has been significantly remodeled. Something just tells us - that’s an old house, or that’s a new house. The key to dating a house is to be able to pick out those codifiers - sometimes its a material (vinyl siding) or an architectural element such as window or dormer. 

Most of us can identify a house that fits the labels “Victorian,” “Colonial,” or “Modern.” That’s not so far off from the truth - it’s a matter of narrowing it down, being able to say that Victorian usually codifies a type of ornate house from the 19th century, or a new house built in what is more specifically called the Queen Anne style. Colonial has been a type of house since, well, the colonies - but there’s a big difference between a 2005 colonial and a 1804 colonial. Not to mention the myriad differences between Spanish, Dutch, or English subtypes. 

Because I don’t want to wait until next week to get this started, I’ll be posting the first article in this series on Friday - it’ll be about the Minimal Traditional style and how it has manifested itself in housing since the 1920s!

I hope you all enjoy this new series as much as I will!


Lady in red by Zalman Shklyar
Via Flickr:
Terracina, Italy, 17


Nymphaem of the Tritons

Hierapolis, Phrygia, Turkey

3rd century CE

70 m long

The Nymphaem of the Tritons, along with the Nymphaeum near the Temple of Apollo, was one of the two large monumental fountains of the city. The building was composed of a basin 70m long, opened onto the street, and had a façade with two flaps, on which were niches to accommodate statues.
The systematic excavations of the monuments began in 1993, lead to the recovery of the elements of the marble architectural and figured decoration, which had collapsed in the large basin and was covered by layers of travertine. Of particular interest were the slabs with battles between Greeks and Amazons and reliefs with personifications of rivers and springs. The style of the reliefs, the architectural elements, and the dedication to the Emperor Severus Alexander Severus engraved on the architrave, allow its construction to be dated to the first half of the 3rd century CE.