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Architectural terms, their definitions in English and their translations

There are 321 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition
Banking Interior

The area of the designated interior historically used for banking operations and any associated interior spaces including, without limitation, entrance vestibules or mezzanines identified in the designation report as part of the designated interior.

Baptismal font

Basin or vase, serving as a receptacle for baptismal water in which the candidate for baptism is immersed, or for receiving the water, which is poured over the head, in the ceremony of Christian initiation


Also called Vergeboard A board, often ornately carved or pierced, fixed to the projecting edge of a gable roof.


Style of art popular in Italy and throughout Europe in the 17th century. It consisted of rich and elaborate detail and complex design. The term possibly derived from the Spanish barrueca (a rare type of pearl with an uneven shape) which later assumed the French form, baroque.

Barrel roof

A straight, continuous arched vault or ceiling, either semicircular or semi-elliptical in profile A barrel vault is a simple, concave cylindrical roof surface which looks like a barrel. A disadvantage is that the entire vault must be built at the same time, and later repairs are difficult to make because the entire barrel vault is affected.

Barrel Vault

Built like an arch would be built, complete with keystone, but then extruded into depth. An arch will hold a wall above a door or a bridge, anything narrow in width when compared to its height, length, and mass.Where as a barreled vault can support a room.


The lowest part of a structure, for example, a column

Found in almost all styles of architecture

Base or basement

Lowest part of a building on which the entire structure rests. Also the lowest element of an order supporting the shaft of a column.


In ancient Rome the basilica was a public building which served several purposes of an institutional nature, both civil and religious. The building was generally rectangular and was divided by colonnades. The wall at one end formed a semi-circular or rectangular apse. The term later came to mean a Christian church which adopted the same design as the Roman basilica.

Basket-handle arch

Also called basket arch, elliptical arch, semielliptical arch. A flattened arch designed by joining a quarter circle to each end of a false ellipse


A form of indented parapet around the top of castles and towers which may either be defensive or decorative. A Guelf battlement was rectangular while the solid upright blocks (merlons) of a Ghibelline battlement were further indented with a ‘V’ shape.


A regularly repeating division of a façade, marked by fenestration.

Bay Window

A projecting form containing windows that rises from the ground or from some other support, such as a porch roof; see also oriel.


Chamber or stage in a tower where bells are hung. The term is also used to describe the manner in which bricks are laid in a wall so that they interlock.

Block Plan

A drawing of a building’s foot print within an entire block in simplified, non-detailed form

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