What Is Pediment In Architecture?

What Is Pediment In Architecture?

What Is Pediment In Architecture?

A pediment is a triangular gable, often placed above the horizontal structure of a building’s entablature, supported by columns. Pediments can include an overdoor and are topped by hood moulds.

They are used as a central point in symmetrical designs, providing grandness to entrances and can be seen as the top element of a portico. The triangular area within the pediment, the tympanum, is frequently decorated with sculptures – either freestanding or in relief. Tympana can also contain inscriptions or clock faces in modern times.

The pediment has a rich history, dating back to ancient Greek architecture as early as 600 BC. It has been used in many architectural styles, including Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Beaux-Arts.

One prominent example is the Parthenon, where the tympanum features figures in relief sculpture. The pediment was used as a non-structural element in ancient Rome and has since been used in several architectural revivals over windows, doors, and aediculae.

During the Renaissance, pediments were adopted in Britain, but had to be detached from the structure due to steeply pitched roofs.

A variation of the pediment is the segmental or arch pediment, where the normal angular slopes of the cornice are replaced by a segment of a circle. This form has both broken and open variants, such as the open pediment, which is often used to showcase sculptures, paintings, mirrors or windows.

The broken pediment is left open at the apex, while the swan’s neck pediment is a refined version with two S-shaped profiles resembling a swan’s neck. Non-triangular variations of pediments can also be found over doors, windows, and porches.

Parts Of A Pediment In Architecture

Pediment is a crucial aspect of European architecture, originating from Ancient Greece. Greek architecture focused on constructing temples and public buildings, featuring columns of different styles. The horizontal structure above the columns, known as the entablature, consisted of an architrave, frieze, and cornice from top to bottom.

The pediment was positioned above the cornice and its triangle surface facing outwards, known as the tympanum, was frequently decorated with sculptures.

Types Of Pediments

Pediments have been a prominent feature in various architectural styles since the ancient Greeks. While the Greeks utilized the pediment as a central component of their buildings, the Romans utilized pediments primarily as an ornamental element, placing them above doors, windows, and niches.

During the Renaissance, architects in Italy used alternating triangular and curved pediments for decoration. Meanwhile, architects during the Baroque period created intricate and elaborately carved pediments that were often non-triangular, broken, open, or highly embellished.

The most traditional form of a pediment is triangular. Temples like the Parthenon and the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, which was built in the 5th century BCE and remains well-preserved to this day, were adorned with triangular pediments.

This classical style can still be seen in modern Neoclassical architecture, such as in the triangular pediment of the New York Stock Exchange building, which features sculptures symbolizing different elements of the world economy.

Another form of a pediment is the segmental or arch pediment, which is shaped like an arc. This type of pediment can be traced back to the Roman era, such as the Celsus Library in Ephesus, which still displays its alternating segmental and triangular arches.

Segmental pediments are also still present in contemporary architectural styles that incorporate classical elements, such as Neoclassicism and Federalism. A prime example of a segmental pediment in the Federal style is found on a doorway with a window shaped like an arch pediment above it.

What Is The Difference Between A Gable And A Pediment?

The main difference between a gable and a pediment is that a gable wall is an extension of one of the walls to fill up the space between the two sloping sides of a roof, whereas a pediment is an architectural element resembling the triangular shape of Classical Greek temple pediments, which may be placed over columns and entablatures or extend out from the wall supported by columns.

As such, a pediment requires more intricate construction than that of a regular gable wall.

Why Are Pediments Used?

Pediments are an important architectural element that originated in classical Greek and Roman architecture, and have been adapted by contemporary architectural styles which draw from these elements.

They provide a crowning element to a building’s design, accentuating the main entrance. Pediments can also be used as ornamentation for windows and doors, helping break up facade elements such as columns or entablatures.

Additionally, pediments can add visual interest to a structure by introducing patterns and shapes which may not otherwise appear on flat facades. Lastly, pediments are often incorporated into neoclassical public buildings in order to evoke the grandeur of ancient Rome.

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