In architecture, intercolumniation is the spacing between columns in a colonnade, as measured at the bottom of their shafts.[1] In classical, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, intercolumniation was determined by a system devised by the first-century BC Roman architect Vitruvius.[2] Vitruvius compiled standard intercolumniations for the three classical Greek orders, expressed in terms of the column diameter,[1] twice the Vitruvian module, and he warned that when columns are placed three column-diameters or more apart, stone architraves break.[3]

Standard intercolumniations

The standard intercolumniations are:[4]

One and a half diameters
Two diameters
Two and a quarter diameters (and three diameters between middle columns front and rear); considered by Vitruvius to be the best proportion[5]
Three diameters
Four or more diameters, requiring a wooden architrave rather than one of stone
Alternating araeostyle and systyle

See also

  • List of architecture topics
  • Architectural glossary


  1. "Intercolumniation". The Columbia Encyclopedia, sixth edition. Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  2. "Intercolumniation". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  3. Vitruvius, De architectura iii.3.4
  4. "Intercolumniation". Webster's Dictionary, 1913. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  5. Vitruvius, De architectura, iii.3.6.

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