Metamorphic Orders

A Parallel

The premise of this parallel is that the classical orders as a system would benefit from a less abrupt transition from one order to another. Not to cancel out their unique characters, but to facilitate combining them in a more harmonious ensemble. Thus there are elements shared between each that suggest a metamorphosis, a gradual transformation from one type to another. This includes slight adjustments to their proportions, especially from Doric to Ionic. The Ionic integrates the two distinct types of classical and angular capitals, inspired by Michelangelo’s Ionic at the Palazzo dei Conservatori; volutes without bolsters are presumed at corner conditions. There is no Corinthian, but rather a proto-Corinthian Composite that I would call the Roman order; with buds and leaves beginning to sprout, it hints at the arrival of a full-blown Corinthian while retaining its connection to the Ionic, and even the Doric (in its fluted necking). Fluted shafts are eschewed in favor of the fluted necks of all but the Tuscan; the Roman order’s flutes are stopped with bead and reel. Like Palladio’s orders, all have the same type of entasis, and similar bases. Options for sub-plinths are included and recommended when the order sits directly on the ground, although the plinth itself may be eliminated in the Tuscan. Dentils are common to all the orders except the Tuscan. The Doric has three flutes on the frieze in place of a triglyph block; therefore no metope is implied, allowing the columns to be spaced on a more flexible system.


The intention of this parallel is to suggest ways of rethinking the classical orders in light of modern conceptual methodologies. It is rooted in the idea of the orders as a system and a language, and is meant to reinforce and facilitate their systematic and metaphorical deployment. All assumptions from Renaissance theory about their anthropomorphism and anthropometrics are retained, albeit with slightly more fluid identities.

metamorphic parallel in line

Read the blog entry about how this parallel came about...

parallel of the orders at 45°