Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What are "columns in antis?"

In Antis Columns are 'in antis" when they stand between square piers call anta.

With this post I'm joining Fifi Flowers' Fashionable Friday because this idea has been fashionable for several thousand years!

"Columns in antis"
is an old design idea, really old. This is a Leila Ross Wilburn foursquare arts and crafts house in Decatur, Georgia built about 1915.
It's an absolutely distinctive look that's literally 1000's of years old.

The square brick columns are anta, basically posts on either side of a doorway. The smaller columns between the anta are said to be "columns in antis."

It's a mostly a decorative effect these days. It's a look rather than a structural requirement. With modern materials, like steel beams, we don't need the interior columns. But in the old days, say 500 B.C., when the walls were soft brick or adobe, you needed strong posts (anta) at the corners and at the ends of a wall to hold lentils over a doorway.

It makes sense to our eyes: strong posts at the edges and something holding up the middle. Without the columns our brains sense something wrong. Classical ideas are about our brain chemistry and genes as well as aesthetics, function and physics.

Now that we know the term, let's keep our eyes peeled for columns in antis. This classical design idea has been in fashion for more than 2500 years. It's got at least 2500 years to go.

Here is another Leila Ross Wilburn home. Very nice and very different.

It's an effect you are more likely to see indoors. So check the magazines too.

How about a new (2003) home in Morningside:

A few Virginia Highland Bungalows

They added on but they kept the columns

A bit of Victorian?

This one is very interesting. The columns sit on tall, chunky plinths. It's a very grand craftsman facade.

A church, now a YWCA, on Highland Avenue:

A 1927 office building, the threatened Crumb and Forster Building on Spring Street by Lewis Edmund "Buck" Crook.

This one is really old, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassai, constructed between 450 BCE and 400 BCE. It's among the most beautiful buildings in the world. The columns in antis are outlined in pink.
The columns are long gone but the columns in antis were certainly there. Image courtesy User:Bibi Saint-Pol at Wikipedia.

Update April 5, 2009
Columns aren't just for temples. You can use classical ideas and proportions in Art Deco Buildings. Here are colossal (spanning more than one story), fluted "pilasters in antis" in the 1929 Troy Peerless Building. It's looking good.


  1. I love the look of this effect with the smaller columns in the middle! It looks like some of those are functional while others are more aesthetic. My husband, the purist, would prefer the functional. Great post, Terry!

  2. GREAT post! You're right columns are fashionable! Thank you for playing along... ENJOY!

  3. You should have been an architect, I think....

    I love posts when I learn something new, and look at architecture with new eyes. I have never heard this term. However, I will admit that I am quite anti-column in any shape or form (interior or exterior), except possibly in ancient Greek ruins like the Acropolis!

  4. Thanks for the comment! Our original pillars were round, they are in the attic, one is broken. I have NO idea what heppened to the bottom half, neither does anyone else associated witht he house before we bought it. SHame they got rid of them. I hope some day to be able to find more round ones, but these colonnades are hard to find in any style or condition, at least in our price range so I jumpes when I saw them. lol.Interesting post too, btw!

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  7. Nice post! A new (2003) home in Morningside looks amazing. Thanks for sharing.
    fake columns


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