THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT GREECE - A PLAY WITH LIGHT
We have already talked about the aesthetics of ancient Greek architecture, as it is realized through visual refinements. Another characteristic with a purely artistic intention is the morphological configuration of the volumes, in such a way that they converse with the sunlight.
When a building is bathed in harsh Mediterranean light, the volumes are often canceled, as shading is minimal. Thus, for example, a cylindrical element may not give the three-dimensional sense of its volume when is bathed by the abundant light of Greece. This seems to have been realized by the ancient architects, who resorted to various morphological solutions to capture the natural light and create the appropriate shadows and contrasts, highlighting key elements of the whole.
One of the elements that stand out emphatically is the column. The necessary shading here is created by the streaks, which end in edges in the Doric style and in strips in the Ionian. It is difficult to imagine why such a difficult formulation was chosen unless there is an aesthetic motivation.
We also notice that the walls are always in the dark, with the result that the columns of the πτερού (the colonnade) are projected more intensely. This creates a light-shadow relationship, which highlights the whole building and makes the eye distinguish basic rhythmic manifestations.
A similar play with light is made with other elements, such as the triglyphs, the sculptures on the μετόπες (metope).
Did you know that:
The construction of the columns was one of the most expensive works done for the completion of the temple. Great importance was given to its proportions so that in the case of the Doric, the height does not exceed five to six times its lower diameter and in the case of the Ionic eight times. This, regardless of the absolute height, gave a more or less representative proportion to the column of each rhythm. That is why we say that the Ionic columns are radial, while the Doric is heavier.