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Great Detail: Francis Terry on the Erechtheion Capital

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The next in a series looking at the building details that have impressed and inspired our readers. Today: Francis Terry of Francis Terry and Associates

Erechtheion Capital

Ionic capital drawing by francis terry

Erichtheion capital bm

One of the most universally adored details of all classical architecture is the ionic capitals at the Erechtheion on the north side of the Acropolis, built between 421 and 406 BC. This capital is a work of such beauty and sophistication that it has been much copied by architects for generations, and can be seen throughout Europe and particularly on the 19th-century buildings when it was the height of architectural fashion.

The appeal of this capital comes from the combination of flowing lines and strict geometry with ornamentation, which makes a satisfying play of light and shade, designed to look its best under Mediterranean sun. The volutes are unusually complex, being made up of a complicated profile which gradually diminishes towards the centre of the spiral. Despite the level of decoration, the overall appearance does not look cluttered or busy.

When I designed the portico for Hanover lodge in Regent’s Park, I decided to follow this example. I therefore studied drawings of the Erechtheion and drew a version which was as close as possible to the original. The final capital was made in reconstructed stone and a craftsman made the original former for the mould out of a variety of materials including MDF, car body filler and zinc sheets. I enjoyed the use of modern materials and techniques to make a beautiful form from the ancient world. I am also happy that many people still find these classical forms meaningful and pleasing to the eye.

Francis terry erechtheion

Francis terry erechtheion

Francis Terry is founder of Francis Terry and Associates

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