Columns are one of the basic elements of structure. Functionally, they are vertical components that carry loads from above , say from the roof into the floor. Metaphorically, they are like humans, standing on the floor; the early Greeks even made some columns in the form of the female body (caryatids).

So columns appeal not just because they serve a structural function but since they signify something of who we are as people. The orders — Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian — are still employed today (when in a more stylistic manner), thousands of years after they were articulated. Modernism, which sought to break itself from tradition, still incorporates columns but does so with different materials — steel instead of rock — and in thin proportions which betray the classical orders.

This ideabook appears at homes which use these lanky columns, or what are sometimes call pilotis, a term Le Corbusier popularized if he called for buildings to be raised above the floor. These homes are more restrained then Corbu’s in terms of columns, but they nevertheless demonstrate the powerful effects of such small elements.

A row of round, black-painted steel columns marches down one side of the small home in Austin, Texas. They encourage a roof overhang that incorporates a timber beam running the whole length. The contrast between curved and boxy, wood and steel is attractive, as is the method by which the beam cantilevers beyond the roof.

The extent of the overhang is quite apparent from this angle. Additionally, it is clear how the row of columns defines an edge and creates a subtle sense of enclosure, which makes sense given the expansive landscape round the home.

Wiebenson & Dorman Architects PC

More steel and wood contrast, now with two-story square steel columns supporting a wood trellis and wood beam. The assembly shades the tall expanses of glass and defines an outdoor area.

Robert Young Architects

Square steel columns alternative with a definite hearth within this home. The steel structure accommodates the second-floor cantilever, easily the most striking facet.

Modern home architects

These round steel columns are double elevation and then sit behind the glass exterior of the pool home. With the ground-floor glass wall opening two sides, the columns help encourage the header and supply some lateral stability into the glass wall above.

This home’s renovation concentrated on the lower level, which in this angle is recessed below a large terrace. Galvanized columns supporting an I-beam beneath the deck are spaced to allow cars to access the garage.

Where skinny columns support a roof, the load is less than occupied area. Inside this home a generous cantilever requires additional support, which comes in the kind of two slim columns. These further define the dining room adjacent to the pool, and they likely offer a feeling of security for those sitting under the second floor expansion.

Bercy Chen Studio

This column supports the expansion of the second-floor roof. Note the way that it’s situated between both lines of stepping stones. Columns may first be a part of the structural arrangement, but they also have to take into consideration the spatial arrangement of a home, a part of which they help create.

I find that the single, double-height column supporting the ample cantilevered roof here very attractive. It might have been possible to pull the roof off without the pillar, but its presence is a solid anchor to the outdoor area; the eye will be led immediately to the pillar.

Klopf Architecture

This single column deals with the span of the breezeway. Wood beams can’t span so far as steel, hence the need for a rather short expanse here.


Outdoor spaces are still an significant part the house, with its L-shaped plan. First is that the skylit walkway adjacent to the living room. In the elbow between the living room and bedrooms is a spacious corner.


This corner is also capped by skylights and essentially acts like a breezeway, but at a 90-degree bend. The lanky columns help to incorporate the big overhangs that provide additional colour.

Wiebenson & Dorman Architects PC

Columns have their place inside as well. These steel ones help visually separate the eating and living areas within an otherwise open area.

Lane Williams Architects

In this view, the lanky steel pillar appears to act like a hinge the big open plan contrasts upon. Another column is actually from sight into the right, yet this photo illustrates how powerful of a presence a pillar could have, even if it is less than a half-foot in diameter.

Classic Design: The Language of Columns
When a Column Doesn’t Look Like a Column

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