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Gothic Architecture

Prepared by
Arch. Maria Mynn Porciuncula-Alfonso
Gothic architecture
is a style of
architecture which
flourished in Europe
during the high and
late medieval period. It
was preceded by
Romanesque architectu
re
and was succeeded by
Renaissance architectu
re
.
Originating in 12th century France and lasting
into the 16th century, Gothic architecture was
known during the period as "the French
Style" (Opus Francigenum),
with the term Gothic first appearing during
the latter part of the Renaissance as a stylistic
insult. Its characteristic features include the
pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the
flying buttress.
Abbot Suger

Abbot Suger, friend and confidante of the French


Kings, Louis VI and Louis VII, decided in about 1127,
to rebuild the great Church of Saint-Denis,
attached to an abbey which was also a royal
residence.
Suger began with the West front, reconstructing
the original Carolingian facade with its single door.
He designed the faade of Saint-Denis to be an echo
of the Roman Arch of Constantine with its three-part
division and three large portals to ease the problem
of congestion. The rose window is the earliest-
known example above the West portal in France.
Abbey of St Denis
Abbot Suger

Leaving the Carolingian nave in use, Abbot Suger moved on


to the eastern end. Inspired to create a physical
representation of the Heavenly Jerusalem, Suger designed a
choir (chancel) that would be suffused with light. To
achieve his aim, he drew on the several new features which
evolved or been introduced to Romanesque architecture,
the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, the
ambulatory with radiating chapels, the
clustered columns supporting ribs springing
in different directions and the flying
buttresses which enabled the insertion of
large clerestorey windows. In combining all these
features within a single structure, Abbot Suger literally
invented Gothic architecture.
Abbot Suger

The new structure was finished and


dedicated on June 11, 1144, in the presence
of the King. The Abbey of Saint-Denis thus
became the proto-type for further building in
the royal domain of northern France. A
hundred years later, the old nave of Saint-
Denis was rebuilt in the Gothic style, gaining,
in its transepts, two spectacular
rose windows .[13]
Through the rule of the Angevin dynasty, the
style was introduced to England and spread
throughout France, the Low Countries ,
Germany, Spain and northern of Italy and
Sicily.[6][8]
Characteristic Features
Its characteristic features include the
pointed arch , the ribbed vault and the
flying buttress .
Arch
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An arch is a curved structure capable of


spanning a space while supporting
significant weight (e.g. a doorway in a stone
wall). The arch appeared in Mesopotamia,
Indus Valley civilization, Egypt, Assyria,
Etruria, and later refined in Ancient Rome.
The arch became an important technique in
cathedral building and is still used today in
some modern structures such as bridges.
A masonry ARCH
1.Keystone 2.Voussoir 3.Extrados 4.Impost 5.Intrados 6.Rise
7.Clear span 8.Abutment
The so-called Roman arch is semicircular, and
built from an odd number of arch bricks
(called voussoirs). You need an odd number of
bricks for there to be a capstone or keystone.
This the topmost stone in the arch. An Arch's
shape is the simplest to build, but not the
strongest. There is a tendency for the sides to
bulge outwards, which must be counteracted
by an added weight of masonry to push them
inwards. The semicircular arch can be
flattened to make an elliptical arch. The
Romans used this type of semicircular arch
freely in many of their secular structures such
as aqueducts, palaces and amphitheaters.
The semicircular arch was followed in Europe by the
pointed Gothic arch or ogive, whose centreline more
closely followed the forces of compression and
which was therefore stronger. This design had been
used by the Assyrians as early as 722 BC. The
parabolic and catenary arches are now known to be
the theoretically strongest forms. A parabolic arch
was introduced in the Ponte Santa Trinit, Florence,
constructed by the architect Bartolomeo Ammanati
from 1567 to 1569. Parabolic arches were
introduced in construction by the Spanish architect
Antoni Gaud, who admired the structural system of
Gothic style , but for the buttresses, that were
designated by him architectural crutches . The
catenary and parabolic arches carry all horizontal
thrust to the foundation and so do not need
additional elements.
The horseshoe arch is based on the semicircular
arch, but its lower ends are extended further
round the circle until they start to converge. The
first examples known are carved into rock in India
in the first century AD, while the first known built
horseshoe arches are known from Aksum (modern
day Ethiopia and Eritrea) from around the 3rd4th
century, around the same time as the earliest
contemporary examples in Syria, suggesting
either an Aksumite or Syrian origin for the type of
arch.[1] It was used in Spanish Visigothic
architecture, Islamic architecture and mudjar
architecture, as in the Great Mosque of
Damascus and in later Moorish buildings. It was
used for decoration rather than for strength.
Construction

An arch requires all of its elements to hold it


together, raising the question of how an arch is
constructed. One answer is to build a frame
(historically, of wood) which exactly follows the form
of the underside of the arch. This is known as a
centre or centring . The voussoirs are laid on it until
the arch is complete and self-supporting. For an arch
higher than head height, scaffolding would in any
case be required by the builders, so the scaffolding
can be combined with the arch support.
Occasionally arches would fall down when the frame
was removed if construction or planning had been
incorrect. (The A85 bridge at Dalmally, Scotland
suffered this fate on its first attempt, in the 1940s).
The interior and lower line or curve of an arch is
known as the intrados.

Old arches sometimes need reinforcement due to


decay of the keystones, known as bald arch .
Pointed Arch
The following gallery shows examples of arch forms displayed in
roughly the order in which they were developed.

Triangular Arch Round Arch or


Semi-circular Arch

Segmented Arch Unequal Round Arch or


Rampant round Arch
Lancet Arch Equilateral Pointed Arch

Shouldred Flat Arch Three Foilded Cusped Arch


Three-centered Elliptical Inflexed
Horeshoe Arch Arch Arch
Arch

Ogee Arch Reverse Ogee Tudor Arch Parabolic or


Arch Catenary
Arch
Pointed Arch
Ribbed Vault
Pointed Arch
The initiation and propagation of this design element
is strongly associated with England.
A fan vault is a form of vault used in the
Perpendicular Gothic style, in which the ribs are all of
the same curve and spaced equidistantly, in a
manner resembling a fan.
The earliest example, dating from about the year
1351,[1] may be seen in the south walk of the
cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral ,[2] built by
Thomas of Cambridge . In the fourteenth century the
structure was known as the Abbey Church at
Gloucester. A fine later example, from 1640, is the
vault over the staircase at Christ Church in Oxford .
The largest fan vault in the world, however, can be
found in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge .
Sexpartite vault
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sexpartite vault, in architecture, is a name given to the


single bay of a vault, which, in addition to the transverse
and diagonal ribs, has been divided by a second transverse
rib, forming six compartments.
The principal examples are those in the
Abbaye-aux-Hommes and Abbaye-aux-Dames at Caen
(which were probably the earliest examples of a
construction now looked upon as transitional),
Notre Dame de Paris , and the cathedrals of Bourges, Laon,
Noyon, Senlis and Sens; from the latter cathedral the
sexpartite vault was brought by William of Sens to
Canterbury, and it is afterwards found at Lincoln and in St
Faith's Chapel, Westminster Abbey .
[edit] See also
A groin vault or groined vault (also
sometimes known as a double barrel vault or
cross vault) is a vault produced by the
intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults .
Sometimes the arches of groin vaults are pointed
instead of round (See image of the Grdslsa
Church below). In comparison with a barrel vault , a
groin vault provides good economies of material
and labour. The thrust is concentrated along the
groins or arrises (the four diagonal edges formed
along the points where the barrel vaults intersect),
so the vault need only be abutted at its four
corners.
Groin vault construction was first exploited by
the Romans, but then fell into relative obscurity in
Europe until the resurgence of quality stone
building brought about by Carolingian and
Romanesque architecture . It reached its ultimate
expression in the gothic architecture of the middle
ages. Difficult to construct neatly because of the
geometry of the cross groins (usually elliptical in
cross section), the groin vault required great skill in
cutting stone to form a neat arris. This difficulty, in
addition to the formwork required to construct such
constructions, led to the rib vault superseding the
groin vault as the preferred solution for enclosing
space in gothic architecture.[1]
The construction method was particularly common
on the basement level, such as at Myres Castle in
Scotland, or at the ground floor level for the
storerooms as at Muchalls Castle in Scotland.[2]
Fan Vault
Fan Vault

The initiation and propagation of this design element is


strongly associated with England. A fan vault is a form of
vault used in the Perpendicular Gothic style, in which the
ribs are all of the same curve and spaced equidistantly, in a
manner resembling a fan.
The earliest example, dating from about the year 1351,[1]
may be seen in the south walk of the cloisters of
Gloucester Cathedral,[2] built by Thomas of Cambridge. In
the fourteenth century the structure was known as the
Abbey Church at Gloucester. A fine later example, from
1640, is the vault over the staircase at Christ Church in
Oxford. The largest fan vault in the world, however, can be
found in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge.
Comparison with other vault designs

A groin vault viewed from the underside, showing the arris


or 'groin'.

Plan of the vault from above showing resultant outward


thrust.

Vault from above.


The construction of a groin vault can be understood most
simply by visualising two barrel vault sections at right
angles merging to form a squarish unit. The resulting four
ribs convey the stress loading to the four corners, or piers.
[4] The more complex groin vault is intrinsically a stronger
design compared to the barrel vault, since the barrel vault
structure must rest on long walls creating less stable
lateral stress, whereas the groin vault design can direct
stresses almost purely vertically on the piers.[5] A common
association of vaulting in cathedrals of the Middle Ages
involves a nave of barrel vault design with transepts of
groined vaulting.[6] The fan vault is similar to the groin
vault in theory, but has a much more elaborate splaying of
multiple ribs emanating from each springer, either
decoratively or structurally.
Comparison with other vault designs

A groin vault viewed from the underside, showing the arris


or 'groin'.

Plan of the vault from above showing resultant outward


thrust.

Vault from above.


The construction of a groin vault can be understood most
simply by visualising two barrel vault sections at right
angles merging to form a squarish unit. The resulting four
ribs convey the stress loading to the four corners, or piers.
[4] The more complex groin vault is intrinsically a stronger
design compared to the barrel vault, since the barrel vault
structure must rest on long walls creating less stable
lateral stress, whereas the groin vault design can direct
stresses almost purely vertically on the piers.[5] A common
association of vaulting in cathedrals of the Middle Ages
involves a nave of barrel vault design with transepts of
groined vaulting.[6] The fan vault is similar to the groin
vault in theory, but has a much more elaborate splaying of
multiple ribs emanating from each springer, either
decoratively or structurally.
Flying Buttress
Flying
Buttress
Flying buttresses at Bath Abbey, Bath, England. Of the six seen here the
left hand five are supporting the nave, and the right hand one is
supporting the transept. Notice their cast shadows on the windows
Flying buttress
From Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia

In architecture , a flying
buttress, or arc-
boutant, is usually on a
religious building, used
to transmit the thrust of
a vault across an
intervening space (which
might be an aisle, chapel
or cloister), to a buttress
outside the building. The
employment of the flying
buttress means that the
load bearing walls can
contain cut-outs, such as
for large windows, that
would otherwise
seriously weaken the
vault walls. Close-up of two flying buttresses at
Bath Abbey, Bath, England. These are
the right hand two buttresses of the
picture above
Flying buttress
The purpose of a buttress was to reduce the load on the vault wall. The majority of
the load is carried by the upper part of the buttress, so making the buttress as a
semi-arch provides almost the same load bearing capability, yet in a much lighter as
well as a much cheaper structure. As a result, the buttress flies through the air,
rather than resting on the ground and hence is known as a flying buttress.
Flying buttress
Construction

Villard de Honnecourt's drawing of a


flying buttress at Reims , ca. AD
13201335 (Bibliothque nationale )

"To build the flying buttress,


it was first necessary to
construct temporary
wooden frames which are
called centering. The
centering would support the
weight of the stones and
help maintain the shape of
the arch until the mortar
was dry. The centering were
first built on the ground by
the carpenters. Once that
was done, they would be
hoisted into place and
fastened to the piers at the
end of one buttress and at
the other. These acted as
temporary flying buttresses
until the actual stone butt
was complete." [1]
Flying buttress
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Notre Dame de Paris: Flying Buttress

Flying buttresses at Bath Abbey, Bath, England. Of the six seen here the
left hand five are supporting the nave, and the right hand one is supporting
the transept. Notice their cast shadows on the windows
In architecture, a flying buttress, or arc-boutant, is usually on a
religious building, used to transmit the thrust of a vault across an
intervening space (which might be an aisle, chapel or cloister), to a
buttress outside the building. The employment of the flying buttress means
that the load bearing walls can contain cut-outs, such as for large windows,
that would otherwise seriously weaken the vault walls.
The purpose of a buttress was to reduce the load on the vault wall. The
majority of the load is carried by the upper part of the buttress, so making
the buttress as a semi-arch provides almost the same load bearing
capability, yet in a much lighter as well as a much cheaper structure. As a
result, the buttress flies through the air, rather than resting on the ground
and hence is known as a flying buttress.
Gothicarchitecture is most familiar
as the architecture of many of the
great cathedrals, abbeys and parish
churches of Europe. It is also the
architecture of many castles, palaces
, town halls, guild halls, universities,
and to a less prominent extent,
private dwellings.
The western facade of
Reims Cathedral,
Interior of
San Zanipolo,
Contents
1 The term "Gothic"

2 Influences
2.1 Regional
2.2 Materials
2.3 Religious
2.4 Architectural
Contents

2.4 Architectural

2.4.1 Romanesque tradition

2.4.2 Islamic influence

2.4.3 Abbot Suger


The term Gothic", when applied to
architecture, has nothing to do with the
historical Goths. It was a pejorative term
that came to be used as early as the
1530s by Giorgio Vasari to describe
culture that was considered rude and
barbaric.[1] At the time in which Vasari
was writing, Italy had experienced a
century of building in the Classical
architectural vocabulary revived in the
Renaissance and seen as the finite
evidence of a new Golden Age of learning
The Renaissance had then overtaken
Europe, overturning a system of culture
that, prior to the advent of printing, was
almost entirely focused on the Church
and was perceived, in retrospect, as a
period of ignorance and superstition.
Hence, Franois Rabelais, also of the 16th
century, imagines an inscription over the
door of his Utopian Abbey of Thlme,
"Here enter no hypocrites, bigots..."
slipping in a slighting reference to "Gotz"
and "Ostrogotz."[2]
InEnglish 17th century usage, "Goth"
was an equivalent of "vandal", a savage
despoiler with a Germanic heritage and
so came to be applied to the architectural
styles of northern Europe from before the
revival of classical types of architecture.
Milan Cathedral, the east end.

According to a 19th century correspondent in the


London Journal Notes and Queries:

There can be no doubt that the term 'Gothic' as


applied to pointed styles of ecclesiastical
architecture was used at first contemptuously,
and in derision, by those who were ambitious to
imitate and revive the Grecian orders of
architecture, after the revival of classical
literature. Authorities such as Christopher Wren
lent their aid in deprecating the old medival
style, which they termed Gothic, as synonymous
with every thing that was barbarous and rude. [3]
[4]
Milan Cathedral, the east end.

On 21 July 1710, the Acadmie d'Architecture


met in Paris, and among the subjects they
discussed, the assembled company noted the
new fashions of bowed and cusped arches on
chimneypieces being employed "to finish the top
of their openings. The Company disapproved of
several of these new manners, which are
defective and which belong for the most part to
the Gothic."[5]
Regional
At the end of the 12th century Europe was
divided into a multitude of city-states and
kingdoms. The area encompassing modern
Germany, The Netherlands , Belgium,
Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, eastern
France and much of northern Italy, excluding
Venice, was nominally under the authority of
the Holy Roman Empire , but local rulers
exercised considerable autonomy. France,
Spain and Sicily were independent kingdoms,
as was England, whose Plantagenet kings
ruled large domains in France.[6] Norway
came under the influence of England, while
the other Scandinavian countries and Poland
were influenced by Germany.
Regional
Throughout Europe at this time there was a
rapid growth in trade and an associated
growth in towns,[7][8] especially in Germany
and the Lowlands and in northern Italy. had
large flourishing towns that grew in
comparative peace, in trade and competition
with each other, or united for mutual weal, as
in the Hanseatic League. Civic building was of
great importance to these towns as a sign of
wealth and pride. England and France
remained largely feudal and produced grand
domestic architecture for their dukes, rather
than grand town halls for their burghers.
Materials
A further regional influence was the
availability of materials. In France,
limestone was readily available in several
grades, the very fine white limestone of
Caen being favoured for sculptural
decoration. England had coarse
limestone, red sandstone as well as dark
green Purbeck marble which was often
used for architectural features.
.[7][9]
Materials

InNorthern Germany, Netherlands,


Scandinavia, Baltic countries and
northern Poland local building stone was
unavailable but there was a strong
tradition of building in brick. The resultant
style, Brick Gothic, is called
"Backsteingotik" in Germany and
Scandinavia.
Materials

InItaly, stone was used for


fortifications, but brick was preferred
for other buildings. Because of the
extensive and varied deposits of
marble, many buildings were faced in
marble, or were left with
undecorated facades so that this
might be achieved at a later date.
Materials

The availability of timber also


influenced the style of architecture. It
is thought that the magnificent
hammer-beam roofs of England were
devised as a direct response to the
lack of long straight seasoned timber
by the end of the Medieval period,
when forests had been decimated not
only for the construction of vast roofs
but also for ship building.[7][9]
The Romanesque
Abbey Church at Cluny
(the remaining transept
shown) provided a model
for many monastic
precincts and had a
lasting influence on
Religious

The early Medieval period had seen a rapid


growth in monasticism, with several different
orders being prevalent and spreading their
influence widely. Foremost were the Benedictines
whose great abbey churches vastly outnumbered
any others in England. Part of their influence was
that they tended to build within towns, unlike the
Cistercians whose ruined abbeys are seen in the
remote countryside. The Cluniac and Cistercian
Orders were prevalent in France, the great
monastery at Cluny having established a formula
for a well planned monastic site which was then
to influence all subsequent monastic building for
many centuries.
Religious

Inthe 13th century


St. Francis of Assisi established the
Franciscans, or so-called "Grey
Friars", a mendicant order. Its off-
shoot, the Dominicans, founded by
St. Dominic in Toulouse and Bologna,
were particularly influential in the
building of Italy's Gothic churches.[7]
[8]
Architectural

Gothicarchitecture grew out of the


previous architectural genre,
Romanesque. For the most part,
there was not a clean break, as there
was later to be in Renaissance
Florence with the sudden revival of
the Classical style by Brunelleschi in
the early 15th century.
Romanesque tradition

Romanesque architecture, or Norman


architecture as it is generally termed in England
because of its association with the
Norman invasion , had already established the
basic architectural forms and units that were to
remain in slow evolution throughout the
Medieval period. The basic structure of the
cathedral church, the parish church , the
monastery , the castle, the palace, the great hall
and the gatehouse were all established. Ribbed
vaults, buttresses, clustered columns,
ambulatories, wheel windows , spires and richly
carved door tympanums were already features
of ecclesiastical architecture.[10]
Romanesque tradition

The widespread introduction of a single


feature was to bring about the stylistic
change that separates Gothic from
Romanesque, and broke the tradition of
massive masonry and solid walls penetrated
by small openings, replacing it with a style
where light appears to triumph over
substance. The feature that brought the
change is the pointed arch. With its use came
the development of many other architectural
devices, previously put to the test in
scattered buildings and then called into
service to meet the structural, aesthetic and
ideological needs of the new style. These
include the flying buttresses, pinnacles and
traceried windows which typify Gothic
ecclesiastical architecture.[7]
The influence of Islamic
architecture on the Gothic
can be most clearly seen in
Spain, as here at
Salamanca Cathedral.
Islamic influence

The influence of Islamic architecture on


the Gothic can be most clearly seen in
Spain, as here at Salamanca Cathedral .
The pointed arch had its origins in
ancient Assyrian architecture where it
occurs in a number of structures as
early as 720 BC. It passed into
Sassanian-Persian architecture and
from the conquest of Persia in 641 AD,
became a standard feature of
Islamic architecture .[7]
Islamic influence

The Norman conquest of Islamic Sicily in


1090, the Crusades which began in 1096
and the Islamic presence in Spain all
brought about a knowledge of this
significant structural device. It is probable
also that decorative carved stone screens
and window openings filled with pierced
stone also influenced Gothic tracery. In
Spain in particular individual decorative
motifs occur which are common to both
Islamic and Christian architectural
mouldings and sculpture.[11][12]
Islamic influence

Concurrent with its introduction and


early use as a stylistic feature in
French churches, it is believed that
the pointed arch evolved naturally in
Western Europe as a structural
solution to a purely technical
problem. (See below: Pointed arch,
Origins)
3 Characteristics of Gothic churches
and cathedrals

3.1 Plan
3.2 Height
3.3 Vertical emphasis
3.4 Light
3.5 Majesty
3.6 Structure: the pointed arch
3.6.1 Origins
3.6.2 Functions
Characteristics of Gothic churches and
cathedrals

The structure of a typical cathedral


In Gothic architecture, new technology stands behind
the new building style. That new technology was the
ogival or pointed arch. Other characteristics
developed as the consequence of the use of the
pointed arch.
The Gothic style, when applied to an ecclesiastical
building, emphasizes verticality and features almost
skeletal stone structures with great expanses of glass,
ribbed vaults, clustered columns , sharply pointed
spires, flying buttresses and inventive sculptural
detail such as gargoyles .
A Gothic cathedral or abbey was, prior to the 20th
century, generally the landmark building in its town,
rising high above all the domestic structures and
often surmounted by one or more towers and perhaps
spires.[7][13]
The structure of a
typical cathedral
Plan of Amiens Cathedral.
Plan of
Wells Cathedral.
Plan

Plan of Wells Cathedral.


Most Gothic churches, unless they are
entitled chapels, are of the Latin cross
plan, with a long nave making the body
of the church, a transverse arm called
the transept and beyond it, an
extension which may be called the
choir, chancel or presbytery. There are
several regional variations on this plan.
Plan of Wells Cathedral.

The nave is generally flanked on either


side by aisles, usually singly, but
sometimes double. The nave is generally
considerably taller than the aisles, having
clerestorey windows which light the central
space. Gothic churches of the Germanic
tradition, like St. Stephen of Vienna , often
have nave and aisles of similar height and
are called hallenkirke. In the South of
France there is often a single wide nave
and no aisles, as at Sainte-Marie in
Saint-Bertrand-de- Comminges.
Plan of Wells Cathedral.

Insome churches with double aisles,


like Notre Dame, Paris, the transept
does not project beyond the aisles. In
English cathedrals transepts tend to
project boldly and there may be two
of them, as at Salisbury Cathedral,
though this is not the case with
lesser churches.
Plan of Wells Cathedral .

The eastern arm shows considerable diversity.


In England it is generally long and may have
two distinct sections, both choir and
presbytery. It is often square ended or has a
projecting Lady Chapel, dedicated to the
Virgin Mary . In France the eastern end is often
polygonal and surrounded by a walkway
called an ambulatory and sometimes a ring of
chapels called a chevette. While German
churches are often similar to those of France,
in Italy, the eastern projection beyond the
transept is usually just a shallow apsidal
chapel containing the sanctuary, as at
Florence Cathedral .[7][10][13]
Salisbury Cathedral
has the tallest spire
in England.
Height

A characteristic of Gothic church


architecture is its height, both real and
proportional. A section of the main body of a
Gothic church usually shows the nave as
considerably taller than it is wide. In
England the proportion is sometimes greater
than 2:1, while the extreme is reached at
Cologne Cathedral with a ratio of 3.6:1. The
extreme of actual internal height was
achieved at Beauvais Cathedral at 157' 6".
[7]
Height

Externally, towers and spires are


characteristic of Gothic churches both
great and small, the number and
positioning being one of the greatest
variables in Gothic architecture. In Italy,
the tower, if present, is almost always
detached from the building, as at
Florence Cathedral , and is often from an
earlier structure. In France and Spain,
two towers on the front is the norm. In
England, Germany and Scandinavia this
is often the arrangement, but an English
cathedral may also be surmounted by an
enormous tower at the crossing.
Height

Smaller churches usually have just


one tower, but this may also be the
case at a very large cathedral like
Salisbury or Ulm Cathedral, which has
the tallest spire in the world,[14]
slightly exceeding that of
Lincoln Cathedral, the tallest which
was actually completed during the
medieval period, at 527 feet (160
metres).
The Gothic east end of
Cologne Cathedral
represents the extreme of
verticality. (nave- 19th
century)
3 Characteristics of Gothic churches
and cathedrals

3.1 Plan
3.2 Height
3.3 Vertical emphasis
3.4 Light
3.5 Majesty
3.6 Structure: the pointed arch
3.6.1 Origins
3.6.2 Functions
Sainte-Chapelle surrounded by the Palais de Justice.
Vertical emphasis

The pointed arch lends itself to a


suggestion of height. This
appearance is characteristically
further enhanced by both the
architectural features and the
decoration of the building.[13]

Vertical emphasis
On the exterior, the verticality is emphasised
in a major way by the towers and spires and
in a lesser way by strongly projecting vertical
buttresses, by narrow half-columns called
attached shafts which often pass through
several storeys of the building, by long
narrow windows, vertical mouldings around
doors and figurative sculpture which
emphasises the vertical and is often
attenuated. The roofline, gable ends,
buttresses and other parts of the building
are often terminated by small pinnacles,
Milan Cathedral being an extreme example
in the use of this form of decoration.
Vertical emphasis

On the interior of the building attached


shafts often sweep unbroken from floor to
ceiling and meet the ribs of the vault, like a
tall tree spreading into branches. The
verticals are generally repeated in the
treatment of the windows and wall surfaces.
In many Gothic churches, particularly in
France, and in the Perpendicular period of
English Gothic architecture , the treatment
of vertical elements in gallery and window
tracery creates a strongly unifying feature
that counteracts the horizontal divisions of
the interior structure.[13]

Sainte-Chapelle - Interior.
Light

One of the most distinctive characteristics of


Gothic architecture is the expansive area of
the windows as at Sainte Chapelle and the
very large size of many individual windows, as
at Gloucester Cathedral and Milan Cathedral .
The increase in size between windows of the
Romanesque and Gothic periods is related to
the use of the ribbed vault, and in particular,
the pointed ribbed vault which channeled the
weight to a supporting shaft with less
outward thrust than a semicircular vault.
Walls did not need to be so weighty.[10][13]

Light

A further development was the flying


buttress which arched externally from
the springing of the vault across the
roof of the aisle to a large buttress
projecting well beyond the line of the
external wall.
Light

The clerestorey windows at


Saint-Omer Cathedral.
The internal columns of the arcade with their attached
shafts, the ribs of the vault and the flying buttresses, with
their associated vertical buttresses jutting at right-angles
to the building, created a stone skeleton. Between these
parts, the walls and the infill of the vaults could be of
lighter construction. Between the narrow buttresses, the
walls could be opened up into large windows. [7]

Through the Gothic period, due to the versatility of the


pointed arch, the structure of Gothic windows developed
from simple openings to immensely rich and decorative
sculptural designs. The windows were very often filled with
stained glass which added a dimension of colour to the
light within the building, as well as providing a medium for
figurative and narrative art.[13]
The clerestorey windows at Saint-Omer Cathedral.
Majesty

The facade of a large church or


cathedral, often referred to as the West
Front, is generally designed to create a
powerful impression on the approaching
worshipper, demonstrating both the
might of God, and the might of the
institution that it represents. One of the
best known and most typical of such
facades is that of Notre Dame de Paris .
Majesty

Central to the facade is the main portal,


often flanked by additional doors. In the
arch of the door is often a significant
piece of sculpture, most frequently
Christ in Majesty. If there is a central
door jamb, then it frequently bears a
statue of the Madonna and Child. There
may be much other carving, often of
figures in niches set into the mouldings
around the portals, or in sculptural
screens extending across the facade.
Majesty
In the centre of the middle level of the
facade, there is a large window, which in
countries other than England and Belgium,
is generally a rose window like that at Reims
Cathedral The gable above this is usually
richly decorated with arcading or sculpture,
or in the case of Italy, may be decorated,
with the rest of the facade, with polychrome
marble and mosaic, as at Orvieto Cathedral
The West Front of a French cathedral and
many English, Spanish and German
cathedrals generally has two towers, which,
particularly in France, express an enormous
diversity of form and decoration. [7][8]
Notre Dame de Paris.
Structure: the pointed arch
Origins

Norman blind-arcading at Canterbury Cathedral.


The defining characteristic of Gothic architecture
is the pointed or ogival arch. Arches of this type
were used in Islamic architecture before they
were used structurally in European architecture,
and are thought to have to been the inspiration
for their use in France, as at Autun Cathedral,
which is otherwise stylistically Romanesque.[7]
Structure: the pointed arch

Origins
However, it appears that there was probably
simultaneously a structural evolution towards
the pointed arch, for the purpose of vaulting
spaces of irregular plan, or to bring transverse
vaults to the same height as diagonal vaults.
This latter occurs at Durham Cathedral in the
nave aisles in 1093. Pointed arches also occur
extensively in Romanesque decorative blind
arcading, where semi-circular arches overlap
each other in a simple decorative pattern, and
the points are accidental to the design .
Norman blind-arcading at Canterbury Cathedral.
Functions

The Gothic vault, unlike the semi-


circular vault of Roman and
Romanesque buildings, can be used to
roof rectangular and irregularly shaped
plans such as trapezoids. The other
structural advantage is that the pointed
arch channels the weight onto the
bearing piers or columns at a steep
angle. This enabled architects to raise
vaults much higher than was possible
in Romanesque architecture.[7]
Functions

While,structurally, use of the pointed


arch gave a greater flexibility to
architectural form, it also gave
Gothic architecture a very different
visual character to Romanesque, the
verticality suggesting an aspiration
to Heaven.
Functions

InGothic Architecture the pointed


arch is used in every location where a
vaulted shape is called for, both
structural and decorative. Gothic
openings such as doorways, windows,
arcades and galleries have pointed
arches. Gothic vaulting above spaces
both large and small is usually
supported by richly molded ribs.
Functions

Rows of pointed arches upon delicate


shafts form a typical wall decoration known
as blind arcading. Niches with pointed
arches and containing statuary are a major
external feature. The pointed arch leant
itself to elaborate intersecting shapes
which developed within window spaces
into complex Gothic tracery forming the
structural support of the large windows
that are characteristic of the style.[10][9]
The south transept facade at York Minster presents a
composition in untraceried pointed arches.
Basic shapes of Gothic
arches and stylistic
character

The way in which the pointed arch was


draughted and utilised developed throughout
the Gothic period. There were fairly clear
stages of development, which did not,
however, progress at the same rate, or in the
same way in every country. Moreover, the
names used to define various periods or
styles within the Gothic differs from country
to country.
Basic shapes of Gothic
arches and stylistic
character

[edit] Lancet arch


The simplest shape is the long opening
with a pointed arch known in England
as the lancet. Lancet openings are
often grouped, usually as a cluster of
three or five. Lancet openings may be
very narrow and steeply pointed.
Basic shapes of Gothic arches
and stylistic character

Salisbury Cathedral is famous for the beauty and


simplicity of its Lancet Gothic, known in England
as the Early English Style. York Cathedral has a
group of lancet windows each fifty feet high and
still containing ancient glass. They are known as
the Five Sisters. These simple undecorated
grouped windows are found at Chartres and Laon
Cathedrals and are used extensively in Italy.[7][9]

Windows in the Chapter House at York Minster


show the equilateral arch with typical circular
motifs in the tracery.
Windows in the Chapter House at York Minster show the equilateral arch
with typical circular motifs in the tracery.
Equilateral arch
Many Gothic openings are based upon the equilateral form. In
other words, when the arch is draughted, the radius is exactly
the width of the opening and the centre of each arch coincides
with the point from which the opposite arch springs. This
makes the arch higher in relation to its width than a semi-
circular arch which is exactly half as high as it is wide. [7]
The Equilateral Arch gives a wide opening of satisfying
proportion useful for doorways, decorative arcades and big
windows.
The structural beauty of the Gothic arch means, however, that
no set proportion had to be rigidly maintained. The Equilateral
Arch was employed as a useful tool, not as a Principle of
Design. This meant that narrower or wider arches were
introduced into a building plan wherever necessity dictated. In
the architecture of some Italian cities, notably Venice, semi-
circular arches are interspersed with pointed ones. [15]
The Equilateral Arch lends itself to filling with tracery of
simple equilateral, circular and semi-circular forms. The type
of tracery that evolved to fill these spaces is known in England
as Geometric Decorated Gothic and can be seen to splendid
effect at many English and French Cathedrals, notably Lincoln
and Notre Dame in Paris. Windows of complex design and of
three or more lights or vertical sections, are often designed by
overlapping two or more equilateral arches. [9]
Flamboyant tracery at Limoges Cathedral.
Flamboyant arch
Flamboyant tracery at Limoges
Cathedral.

The Flamboyant Arch is one that is


draughted from four points, the upper part of
each main arc turning upwards into a smaller
arc and meeting at a sharp, flame-like point.
These arches create a rich and lively effect
when used for window tracery and surface
decoration. The form is structurally weak and
has very rarely been used for large openings
except when contained within a larger and
more stable arch. It is not employed at all for
vaulting.[7]
.
Flamboyant arch

Some of the most beautiful and


famous traceried windows of Europe
employ this type of tracery. It can be
seen at St Stephen's Vienna, Sainte
Chapelle in Paris, at the Cathedrals of
Limoges and Rouen in France, and at
Milan Cathedral in Italy. In England the
most famous examples are the West
Window of York Minster with its design
based on the Sacred Heart, the
extraordinarily rich seven-light East
Window at Carlisle Cathedral and the
exquisite East window of Selby Abbey.
[10][9]
Flamboyant arch

Doorways surmounted by Flamboyant mouldings are


very common in both ecclesiastical and domestic
architecture in France. They are much rarer in
England. A notable example is the doorway to the
Chapter Room at Rochester Cathedral .[7][9]

The style was much used in England for wall


arcading and niches. Prime examples in are in the
Lady Chapel at Ely, the Screen at Lincoln and
externally on the facade of Exeter Cathedral. In
German and Spanish Gothic architecture it often
appears as openwork screens on the exterior of
buildings. The style was used to rich and sometimes
extraordinary effect in both these countries, notably
on the famous pulpit in Vienna Cathedral.[8]
The depressed arch
supported by fan
vaulting at
King's College Chapel,
England.
Depressed arch

The Depressed or four-centred


arch
is much wider than its height and gives
the visual effect of having been
flattened under pressure. Its structure
is achieved by draughting two arcs
which rise steeply from each springing
point on a small radius and then turn
into two arches with a wide radius and
much lower springing point.[7]
Depressed arch

This type of arch, when employed as a window


opening, lends itself to very wide spaces, provided it
is adequately supported by many narrow vertical
shafts. These are often further braced by horizontal
transoms. The overall effect produces a grid-like
appearance of regular, delicate, rectangular forms
with an emphasis on the perpendicular. It is also
employed as a wall decoration in which arcade and
window openings form part of the whole decorative
surface.

The style, known as Perpendicular, that evolved


from this treatment is specific to England, although
very similar to contemporary Spanish style in
particular, and was employed to great effect through
the fifteenth century and first half of the sixteenth as
Renaissance styles were much slower to arrive in
England than in Italy and France.[7]
Depressed arch

It can be seen notably at the East End


of Gloucester Cathedral where the
East Window is said to be as large as
a tennis court. There are three very
famous royal chapels and one chapel-
like Abbey which show the style at its
most elaborate- King's College
Chapel, Cambridge; St George's
Chapel, Windsor; Henry VII's Chapel
at Westminster Abbey and Bath
Abbey.[9] However very many simpler
buildings, especially churches built
during the wool boom in East Anglia,
are fine examples of the style.
The Royal Portal of Chartres Cathedral.
Symbolism and ornamentation

The Royal Portal of Chartres Cathedral.


Main articles: Cathedral architecture of Western Europe and
Poor Man's Bible
Symbolism and ornamentation

The Royal Portal of Chartres Cathedral.


Main articles: Cathedral architecture of Western Europe and
Poor Man's Bible

The Gothic cathedral represented the universe in microcosm and each


architectural concept, including the loftiness and huge dimensions of
the structure, were intended to convey a theological message: the
great glory of God. The building becomes a microcosm in two ways.
Firstly, the mathematical and geometrical nature of the construction is
an image of the orderly universe, in which an underlying rationality and
logic can be perceived.
Secondly, the statues, sculptural decoration, stained glass and murals
incorporate the essence of creation in depictions of the Labours
of the Months and the Zodiac[16] and sacred history from the Old and
New Testaments and Lives of the Saints, as well as reference to the
eternal in the Last Judgment and Coronation of the Virgin.
The decorative schemes usually incorporated Biblical
stories, emphasizing visual typological allegories between
Old Testament prophecy and the New Testament .[8]
Many churches were very richly decorated, both inside
and out. Sculpture and architectural details were often
bright with coloured paint of which traces remain at
Chartres cathedral. Wooden ceilings and panelling were
usually brightly coloured. Sometimes the stone columns
of the nave were painted, and the panels in decorative
wall arcading contained narratives or figures of saints.
These have rarely remained intact, but may be seen at
the Chapterhouse of Westminster Abbey .[9]
Some important Gothic churches could be severely simple
such as the Basilica of Mary Magdalene in Saint-Maximin,
Provence where the local traditions of the sober, massive,
Romanesque architecture were still strong.
The Devil tempting the Foolish Virgins at Strasbourg.
4 Regional differences
4.1 France
4.2 England
4.3 Germany and the Holy Roman Empir
e

4.4 Spain
4.5 Italy
5 Secular Gothic architecture