The concept of proportion plays a vital role in Stephen Riou’s ‘The Grecian orders of Architecture’. As is already stated in the title, the architectural orders established in ancient Greece form the foundation on which the book is based. Proportionality is an imperative feature that characterizes the buildings constructed in ancient times, but also buildings of Riou’s contemporaries, as they are based on the ancient treatises.
Regarding Chapter 2 of the book, two tables are incorporated detailing the information of the proportional heights of each column order, and their respective projectures. Furthermore, chapter 5 includes information on the proportion of the distances between the architrave with its mouldings, the frieze to the cornice, etc.
The main body of the book is written in a continuous text, where no images or illustrations are included. Consequently, the incorporation of tables stands out while reading the flowing text. Hence, the importance of the information concerning the concept of proportionality is also visually highlighted through the prominent features of the integrated tables.
All illustrations of the building features referred to in the main text are neatly displayed in the appendix of the book. Here, the detailed measurements recorded in the tables can be visually represented in an annotated sketch. The sketches range from detailed illustrations of individual building elements, such as columns, cornices, architraves, friezes, etc., to whole building structures, such as a temple’s façade, or a Palladian country villa.
Another concept that builds up on the first, is that of congruence, the quality of individual elements being in agreement with each other. Only through the harmonious coexistence of the single elements can the building appear to be in harmony as a whole. The strict accordance of the individual building parts is a crucial characteristic of the Grecian orders of architecture. Only through the thorough proportion regulations stipulated in the ancient treatises could the timeless elegance of the Greek architecture persevere in to the 18th century and beyond. Furthermore, the Grecian orders apply to a wide scope of ancient buildings, ranging from temples and theatres to residential houses. This wide applicability also comes to show in the time of Stephen Riou, as the orders are used in constructions of country villas, public buildings, churches and many other constructions alike.
Keywords: Proportion, congruence, timelessness