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Architecture Saturday Part II : Gothic

Goethe once said: “Architecture is frozen music.” Of course, being a writer, he knew little about either.

This is the second (and maybe last) post in my Architecture Saturday series. Go read the first here.

Here’s the architecture words of the day:

boss : Ornamental knob found at the intersection of ribs in a ceiling vault.

fornication : refers to curved roof coverings and arches (fornix)

In the High Middle Ages, Europe managed to get some temporary peace and started building large, high, ornate cathedrals, such as the one in Ulm, Germany (below).

But what makes a building gothic?

Flying Buttresses. A buttress is a structure built against a wall to serve as support and take off some pressure. Remember this was before steel, so building tall thngs required a linearly larger support.

But a flying buttress (depicted in the top image of this post) is different because it is not in contact with the wall all the way to the ground; so that the lateral forces are transmitted across an intervening space.

Tracery. That’s the complicated stonework that allows those ridiculously large windows to not break and stay in place. Example below.

Interesting fact, the Doge’s Palace in Venice (picture below) is also a gothic building. Probably the most photographed one.

Notice that little dome at the top, the one that looks like the top of a mosque? Don’t tell anyone about it!!!

Speaking of Islamophobia, the Seville Cathedral is about the size of two football fields. I mean, the nave is flanked by 2 isles and the stair to the tower was designed for people riding horses. Why? Because there was a huge mosque there before and they wanted to erase all traces of it.

Meanwhile, in England (where news of the Renaissance arrived a couple of hundred years late) they were building awesome stuff with wood. Like timber, man.

They have these hammer-beam roofs, decorated with angels holding shields. The reason they’re remarkable is that instead of using the full beams, they would use these shorter ones (see below) and build further structure on top of them.

Building with wood was typically a bad idea though because their buildings would burn down all the time.

That’s all for this Saturday.


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