TheParthenon in Athens and the Pantheon in Rome are perfect examples inarchitectural history that have used the portico and have contributed to thetopic of the entrance and transitions in architecture.
The Parthenon attaches agreat deal of importance to its entrance-portico as it is a clear example toexplain the spatial relationships between the outside and inside space (Boettger,2014). The Parthenon’s entrance moves away from its conventional idea of just movingfrom one space to another, but serves as “… an articulation between spaces,i.e. between outside and inside, between one space and another, between realityand another (Venturi, 1977, p.82)”, – the entrance also represents a transitionfrom the material world to the world of the Gods. The Parthenon is located onthe Acropolis, on a mountain, in the city of Athens along with the otherbuildings: The Propylaea, The Temple of Athena and the Erechtheion. The overalldesign of the Acropolis and positioning of the different buildings as well asthe Parthenon is significant in order to understand the circulation andtransitions through the site.
The path, starting at the southern part of thesite near the Temple of Athena, allows a step-by-step journey towards theParthenon, with each transition and entry putting the individual in a new atmosphereand condition, allowing for an exceptional architectural experience (Boettger, 2014).Consequently, prior to actually passing into the Parthenon’s entrance, theindividual has to approach this entrance along this directed path (Ching, 1979).The approach to the Parthenon is therefore just as important as its literalentrance when trying to understand these transitions. For example, thePropylaea, which is located just after passing the Temple of Athena, acts as anentrance or transition to a completely new condition. Its portico allows aconnection between the inside and outside space as the columns on the insideact as a viewing platform as well as a preparation to what lies ahead.
What isinteresting is that these columns are able to frame the Parthenon laterally whichallows the viewer to appreciate its spatial volume and significance (Boettger, 2014).The ramp in the flight of steps that leads up to the Propylaea also cleverly controlsthe circulation of the approaching individual which as a result provides aunique path for experiencing the space (Boettger, 2014). As the journey to theParthenon continues, a spiral path prolongs the sequence of the approach aswell as intensifies anticipation and stresses the importance of the final entry(Boettger, 2014) as the path directs the individual right around its perimeter.The actual entrance to the Parthenon is therefore completely hidden until itspoint of arrival (Ching, 1979).
Subsequently, this combination of walls, pathsand separate temples on the individual’s approach to the Parthenon becomespace-delimiting elements and act as limits which as a result, form theparticular route towards the Parthenon. It is therefore evident that thespatial positioning of the Acropolis is no arbitrary entity, but rather thatthese different transitions and entrances have been placed in a way for theindividual to move through and experience the space in a particular way (Boettger,2014). It can therefore be argued that entrances have been used to control theindividual’s circulation throughout the site.