Doric columns on the Greek temple at Segesta, Sicily, c. 424–416 BC—SCALA/Art Resource, New York

In architecture, a vertical element, usually a slender shaft, that provides structural support by carrying axial loads in compression; columns are also subject to buckling. Columns may be exposed or hidden in walls; constructed of precast concrete, masonry, stone, or wood or of steel wide-flange, pipe, or tubular sections; they may be plain, fluted, or sculpted, with or without a capital and base. Columns may also be nonstructural, used for decorative or monumental purposes. See also intercolumniation, order.

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