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Parametric Doric Temple Building Set

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3D model description

This is a set of pieces from which a model of a Doric order Greek or Roman temple can be built. All the pieces are easily printable on a ToM or equivalent, and the parts can be fitted together without glue to create a full, stable structure (kind of like the Greeks and Romans did thousands of years ago, but in plastic instead of stone.)

Because all of the pieces have been created using OpenSCAD, infinite variations are possible. For example, with a little time it would be possible to build a pretty good model of the Parthenon.

The sizes of the parts are all based on the diameter of a column (the 'modulus' of Vitruvius), so in openSCAD there is a single parameter that can be used to control the overall size and proportions. Individual proportions can also be modified as desired. The supplied .stl files are more or less attuned to the 'golden rectangle'. (Note: I am not an art historian and make no claim that the proportions or even the pieces themselves are exactly as they should be. Anyone with more expertise than me is more than welcome to suggest improvements of any kind to this design.)

While I did this primarily for fun and to improve my skills in openSCAD, there are more than a few possible uses for these parts in architectural, dollhouse, and railroad modeling. The fluted columns might serve well for wedding cake layer dividers or anything else that deserves truly classic support.

These parts also could be useful in education, both for studying proportion in art and design classes, and as part of a study of the Classical world in general.

Or, of course, you could just build your own little shrine to your god or goddess of choice:)

3D printing settings

Building the temple:

A full set of .stl files is provided for those who haven't yet discovered the power of openSCAD. As is, these should print a large temple that completely fits/snaps together with only minor filing/sanding etc. It also should be possible to scale these pieces all to the same amount and create smaller or larger temples, though I have yet to try this. As you would expect, some detail would be lost if the pieces are scaled to a significantly smaller size.

If you want to modify the proportions away from the approximate Golden Rectangle then openSCAD is the ticket. Note you can do this without being a programmer or mathematician, all of the important variables are listed at the head of each file and all you have to do is modify as desired and re-generate the appropriate .stl file. (If you didn't know it already, openSCAD is a free, open source project. Though the spare interface can be a little intimidating at first, it is truly a brilliant piece of work that allows amazing things to be built.)

Note: Each of the pieces is available in one of the openSCAD files as a module. Below the variables is a list of the pieces you might want to create, all commented out with // before the name. To get a specific piece remove the comments from the module you want to create and leave them for the others. Then render the piece (F6) and export it as an .stl file for printing.

How to build:

Decide what kind of temple you want. For example, the smallest full temple would be 3x3 and require 8 columns, while the Parthenon would be 8 by 17 and require at least 46 (and a lot of plastic!). The provided .stl files with six columns in the front would make a full temple about a foot (30cm) wide.

The temple builds from the bottom up. There are two kinds of base units, straight and corner. Each of these has a post that will match with a column. The number of steps can be manipulated through a parameter in openSCAD should you desire more or fewer than two. No interior flooring is provided here, but the inside of the steps have supports so that most any kind of flat sheet material could be cut to size and laid down within.

The columns come next. The supplied .stl files print best with the capitol as a separate piece that press fits into the top. If you are making smaller columns through the openSCAD files you can also join the capitols to the base and center portions and print as one. This should work with no issues if you want columns without the abacus (top square plate). You may experience minor overhang issues printing the abacus as part of a column, so some testing might be a good idea.

The number of flutes in a column can be varied; the supplied .stl files have the 20 that was something of a standard for Greek architecture. These will start to disappear if you scale the columns down, so for a less tall temple you might want to decrease the number through the openSCAD variable. You might also increase the flute diameter a bit to make them more likely to print well.

Columns can be printed without bases to conform to typical Greek practice, though you might need to use a raft to avoid the problems that sometimes arise from printing tall narrow objects.

Note that the current columns lack entassis, the subtle thinning curve from bottom to top that helps make these structures so beautiful. I intend to add this to the columns, but haven't yet found a way in openSCAD to do this without crashing it. (suggestions welcome:)

Above the columns come the architraves (the beams that connect the column capitols). Again there are straight and corner versions; all have posts to fit into the tops of the columns, and holes to mate with the freizes above.

The friezes have the appropriate triglyphs (which can be manipulated in the openSCAD code), and also come in straight and corner versions. Small pegs are provided to press through the bottoms of the friezes and into the architraves.

(For ancient architecture nerds, the 'doric corner conflict' is solved by moving the triglyphs in so they center over the corner columns, as per Vitruvius. When I have time I may get around to making friezes with the other solutions too.)

Above the friezes are the cornice pieces. There are three varieties of these, which snap into the tops of the friezes.

Finally, the pediment is constructed of end and center pieces for each side of the temple front, with plates to join the angled tops which would support a roof (not supplied, but easily made with any manner of flat sheet material.) You may want to glue the pediments together even if you leave the rest of the pieces unglued, the top structure is large and rather flimsy compared to the rest (again, not unlike many real temples where the walls stand while the roof long ago fell down.)

Smaller temples might not need the middle pieces, you could adjust the width of the pediment end pieces just to join in the middle if it can be printed on your machine.

Enjoy!

Note: this is a Work in Progress as there is some clean-up work still to be done, especially on the pediments, which don't have a good method for joining to the rest of the structure, and also lacks the tympanum (any budding sculptors out there who want to do the Elgin marbles in miniature?)

Also, the openSCAD files are still pretty rough in terms of consistency of variable naming, commenting, and general organization. I hope to make them as accessible as possible as I work on them in the future.

  • 3D model format: STL

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