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In modern architecture, an atrium (plural atria) is a large open space, often several stories high and having a glazed roof and/or large windows, often situated within an office building and usually located immediately beyond the main entrance doors. Atria are popular with companies because they give their buildings "a feeling of space and light", but have been criticised by fire inspectors as they could allow fire to spread to a building's upper stories more quickly.


The Latin word atrium referred to the open central court, from which the enclosed rooms led off, in the type of large ancient Roman house known as a domus.

The impluvium was the shallow pool sunken into the floor to catch the rainwater. Some surviving examples are beautifully decorated. The opening in the ceiling above the pool called for some means of support for the roof. And it is here where one differentiates between five different styles of atrium.

As the centrepiece of the house the atrium was the most lavishly furnished room. Also, it contained the little chapel to the ancestral spirits (lararium), the household safe (arca) and sometimes a bust of the master of the house.

The term was also used for a variety of spaces in public and religious buildings, mostly forms of arcaded courtyards, larger versions of the domestic spaces. Byzantine churches were often entered through such a space (as are many mosques, though the term is not usually used for Islamic architecture.

Tallest atrium

As of 2007, Dubaimarker's Burj Al Arabmarker, has the tallest atrium. The Burj Al Arab was built to impress and to iconize the urban development in the city of Dubai, and currently it is considered to be the most significant landmark of the city.

Largest atrium

The Luxor Hotelmarker, in Las Vegasmarker, Nevadamarker, has the largest atrium in the world at 29 million cubic feet (820,000 m³).

Glazed atrium

The 19th century brought the industrial revolution with great advances in iron and glass manufacturing techniques. Courtyards could then have horizontal glazing overhead, eliminating some of the weather elements from the space and giving birth to the modern atrium.

One of the main public spaces at Federation Squaremarker, Melbournemarker, Australia is called The Atriummarker and is a street-like space, 5-stories high with glazed walls and roof. The structure and glazing pattern follow the system of fractals used to arrange the panels on the rest of the facades at Federation Square.

19th century atria

Image:C19 interior 015.jpg|Victoria Hall in Halifax Town Hallmarker, 1863Image:C19 interior 002.jpg|Atrium roof in Halifax Town Hallmarker, 1863

Examples of modern-day atria

Image:Shanghai Grand Hyatt Atrium.jpg|Looking up inside the 32-story atrium of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt, part of the Jin Mao BuildingmarkerImage:New York State Theater atrium by David Shankbone.jpg|Atrium of the New York State Theatermarker at Lincoln CentermarkerImage:Tucson High Library.jpg|The Tucson Highmarker Galleria and reflexive library (pictured) feature a modern atrium tetrastylum with four support columns and open roof.Image:VirgoPiazza.JPG|The Grand Piazza atrium inside the SuperStar VirgoImage:GCA.JPG|Four floor atrium of Gould Hall, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, at the University of WashingtonmarkerImage:Complexe Desjardings, Grand Place 2005-10-22.JPG|Atrium of Complexe Desjardins, MontrealmarkerImage:Newseum-Atrium.jpg|Atrium of the "Newseum" museum in Washington, DC.Image:Kurayoshi Park Square04n4592.jpg|Atrium of Kurayoshi Park Square in Kurayoshi, Japanmarker

See also


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