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What Is a Composite Column?

Roman Order of Architecture

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Arch of Titus, Rome, Italy, with Composite Columns reconstructed from original 82 AD

Arch of Titus, Rome, Italy, with Composite Columns reconstructed from original 82 AD

Photo by Nancy Brown/The Image Bank/Getty Images Capital of a Composite Column

Capital of a Composite Column

18th century French engraving Detail of composite columns inside San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, 17th c. Baroque church in Rome

Detail of composite columns inside San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, 17th c. Baroque church in Rome

Photo ©ho visto nina volare on flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

Definition:

In Classical Orders of Architecture, a Composite column is a Roman-designed column style that combines the Greek-designed Ionic and the Corinthian orders of architecture.

The Arch of Titus may be the first instance of this Roman Order of Architecture in the first century AD. Composite columns have highly decorated capitals (tops). The leaf decoration elements of the Corinthian style combine with the scroll designs (volute) that characterize the Ionic style. Because the combination (or composite) of the two Greek designs makes the Composite Column more ornate than other columns, Composite columns are sometimes found in lavish 17th century Baroque architecture.

Other Meanings:

In contemporary architecture, the term composite column can be used to describe any style column molded from a man-made composite material such as fiberglass or a polymer resin, sometimes reinforced with metal.

Common Misspellings: composit

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