Cornice
Overview
 
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding
Crown molding
Crown molding encapsulates a large family of moldings which are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge. Crown molding is generally used for capping walls, pilasters, and cabinets, and is used extensively in the creation of interior and exterior cornice assemblies and door and...

.

The function of the projecting cornice is to throw rainwater free of the building’s walls. In residential building practice, this function is handled by projecting gable
Gable
A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable...

 ends, roof eaves, and gutters
Rain gutter
A rain gutter is a narrow channel, or trough, forming the component of a roof system which collects and diverts rainwater shed by the roof....

.
Encyclopedia
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding
Crown molding
Crown molding encapsulates a large family of moldings which are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge. Crown molding is generally used for capping walls, pilasters, and cabinets, and is used extensively in the creation of interior and exterior cornice assemblies and door and...

.

The function of the projecting cornice is to throw rainwater free of the building’s walls. In residential building practice, this function is handled by projecting gable
Gable
A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable...

 ends, roof eaves, and gutters
Rain gutter
A rain gutter is a narrow channel, or trough, forming the component of a roof system which collects and diverts rainwater shed by the roof....

. The elimination of the cornice has been important enough in modernist architecture
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

 that elaborate internal drainage systems are provided.

A cornice is horizontal molded projection that completes a building or wall; or the upper slanting part of an entablature
Entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

 located above the frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

. The term cornice comes from Italian cornice, meaning “ledge.”

Classical architecture

The cornice molding is the set of projecting moldings
Molding (decorative)
Molding or moulding is a strip of material with various profiles used to cover transitions between surfaces or for decoration. It is traditionally made from solid milled wood or plaster but may be made from plastic or reformed wood...

 that crown an entablature
Entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

 along the top edge of a temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 or building. The cornice lies above the frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

, which rests on the architrave
Architrave
An architrave is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns. It is an architectural element in Classical architecture.-Classical architecture:...

, all supported by columns.

The sloping cornice, “raking cornice” or “rake board,” is also carried across the top of the triangular pediment
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

, at the gable
Gable
A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable...

 end of a building. (refer to image), found on the front of such buildings as the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

, the Acropolis
Acropolis
Acropolis means "high city" in Greek, literally city on the extremity and is usually translated into English as Citadel . For purposes of defense, early people naturally chose elevated ground to build a new settlement, frequently a hill with precipitous sides...

, or Schinkel’s Schauspielhaus
Schauspielhaus
Schauspielhaus is the German word for Theatre.The following theaters are referred to as Schauspielhaus:- Berlin :* Schauspielhaus Berlin, now Konzerthaus Berlin* Großes Schauspielhaus* Neues Schauspielhaus...

. The sloping cornice hangs over the end of the structure supporting the roof. In classical and neoclassical architecture, the sloping cornice uses the same molding profile as the cornice below.

Each of the classic
Classical architecture
Classical architecture is a mode of architecture employing vocabulary derived in part from the Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, enriched by classicizing architectural practice in Europe since the Renaissance...

 orders has certain characteristic profiles to its cornice:
  • The cornice of the Doric order
    Doric order
    The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

  • The cornice of the Ionic order
    Ionic order
    The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

  • The cornice of the Corinthian order
    Corinthian order
    The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...


The geison in classical Greek architecture

Geison (Greek: γεῖσον) is a specialist's architectural term, denoting the part of the entablature
Entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

 that projects outward from the top of the frieze in the Doric order
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

 and from the top of the frieze course (or sometimes architrave) of the Ionic
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

 and Corinthan
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 orders: thus it is simply an equivalent of cornice. In classical Greek architecture the geison forms the outer edge of the roof on the sides of a structure with a sloped roof. The upper edge of the exterior often had a drip edge formed as a hawksbeak molding to shed water; there were also typically elaborate moldings or other decorative elements, sometimes painted. Above the geison ran the sima
Sima (architecture)
In classical architecture, a sima is the upturned edge of a roof which acts as a gutter. Sima comes from the Greek simos, meaning bent upwards.- Form :...

. The underside of the geison may be referred to as a soffit
Soffit
Soffit , in architecture, describes the underside of any construction element...

. The form of a geison (particularly the Hawksbeak molding of the outer edge) is often used as one element of the argument for the chronology of its building.

Horizontal geison

The horizontal geison runs around the full perimeter of a Greek temple, projecting from the top of the entablature to protect it from the elements and as a decorative feature. Horizontal geisa may be found in other ancient structures that are built according to one of the architectural orders. The horizontal sima (with its antefixes and water-spouts) ran above the horizontal geison along the sides of a building, acting as a rain gutter and final decoration.

Doric order

In the Doric order, the sloped underside of the horizontal geison is decorated with a series of protruding, rectangular mutules aligned with the triglyph
Triglyph
Triglyph is an architectural term for the vertically channeled tablets of the Doric frieze, so called because of the angular channels in them, two perfect and one divided, the two chamfered angles or hemiglyphs being reckoned as one. The square recessed spaces between the triglyphs on a Doric...

s and metope
Metope (architecture)
In classical architecture, a metope is a rectangular architectural element that fills the space between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze, which is a decorative band of alternating triglyphs and metopes above the architrave of a building of the Doric order...

s of the Doric frieze below. Each mutule typically had three rows of six gutta
Gutta
A gutta is a small water-repelling, cone-shaped projection used in the architrave of the Doric order in classical architecture. At the top of the architrave blocks, a row of six guttae below the narrow projection of the taenia and cymatium formed an element called a regula...

e
(decorative conical projections) protruding from its underside. The gaps between the mutules are termed viae (roads). The effect of this decoration was to thematically link the entire Doric entablature (architrave, frieze, and geisa) with a repeating pattern of vertically and horizontally aligned architectural elements. Use of the hawksbill molding at the top of the projecting segment is common, as is the undercutting of the lower edge to aid in dispersing rainwater. To separate the geison from the frieze visually, there is typically a bed molding aligned with the face of the triglyphs.

Ionic and Corinthian orders

Horizontal geisa of these orders relied on moldings rather than the mutules of the Doric order for their decoration.

Raking geison

A raking geison ran along the top edge of a pediment, on a temple or other structure such as the aedicula
Aedicula
In religion in ancient Rome, an aedicula is a small shrine. The word aedicula is the diminutive of the Latin aedes, a temple building or house....

of a scaenae frons (theater stage building). This element was typically less decorative than the horizontal geison, and often of a differing profile from the horizontal geison of the same structure. The difference is particularly marked in the Doric order, where the raking geison lacks the distinctive mutules. The raking sima ran over the raking geison as a decorative finish and, essentially, a rain gutter.
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