The manner established power for the ruling class, portraying
an “unchallenging authority” (Watkins, 2005:468). However, gothic architecture
was a display of pride for many nations. Even the ordinary person felt part of
this movement. They felt like part of the community marching towards a common
goal of national progress. Whether it was a political, religious, territorial
or industrial expansion, gothic architecture was always used to celebrate it.
Gothic architecture symbolises positive progression and pride in your community.
The Lloyds Building echoes St-Denis cathedral, reflecting
the inside on the exterior of the building. Furthermore, the atrium appears skeletal,
making the majority of the walls out of glass. This reflects the same kind of
design as crystal place, even using a barrel vault roof.
this gives the tower an imposing and grand manner, reflecting the importance and
power of knowledge. The name, Cathedral of learning, sets a precedent of the
academic attitude. An expectation of devotion like that to the church in the
The interior has many classic aspects of Gothic
architecture. There are towering collumns made up of many emalgamated collumns,
ribbed vaulting and pointed arch doorways and windows. However the windows are
narrow so wont let in much light. Thus breaking from the classic gothic form.
The Cathedral of Learning resides
on the campus of Pittsburgh, built in 1926-37 (Lewis, 2001:189). There are
pointed arch windows nearly as tall as the entire tower, dragging the eye to
the top of the structure. The small width of the building emphasises the vast
height of the structure. The various smaller towers surrounding the centre pinnacle
mimics the vertical buttresses seen in the Prague cathedral.
The idea of minimal
walls, was taken to its extremity in crystal palace in Hyde park, London,1851.
The structure was made of glass and cast iron (Watkins, 2015:472), creating a skeletal
structure in a gothic manner. The use of new materials reflected the new
innovations of the industrial revolution, such as steamboats and the railroad (Lewis,
2002:110). The crystal palace soon after opening hosted the first world’s fair,
reflecting the new international ideas of England (Lewis,
2002:110). London had become a modern city, open and encouraging new technologies,
ideas and investments in science. Paralleling the birth of gothic architecture,
Britain obtained a new sense of national pride and needed a way to express
Influence on Modern Architecture
The netted vault is a key aspect of progression to high
gothic architecture from early gothic. A netted vault includes more ribs for purely
decorative purposes, created a net effect canopy. At the at start of the aisle
the vaulting is more traditional, closer to the rib vaulting at the birth
of the gothic style. As you reach the choir and alter, the vaulting become infinitely
more complex. This netted vaulting pulls the visitors eye to the front of the cathedral.
Additionally, the carving at the front has its own gothic pinnacles surrounding
a sculpture of the crucifixion.
The exterior is the
stereotypical gothic cathedral, containing sharp pinnacles, buttresses and
pointed archways. However, the interior has some innovative ideas that would go
on the influence many buildings to come. The bold horizontal mouldings,
cornices, create a contrast to the strong, vast vertical lines within the cathedral
(Frankel, 1962:158). Thus, emphasising the towering aspect of gothic
architecture. Furthermore, when they are “crossed by the shafts it projects a
triangle form” (Frankel, 1962:158), displaying the fascination Heinrich Parler
had with diagonal compositions (Watkins, 2015:187).
Within any movement there
is an evolution. This final stage of Gothic progression can be seen in the
Church of The Holy Cross in Schwabisch-Gmund, 1351. This was constructed by
Henrich Parler (Watkins,2015:187). The Parler
family were extremely valuable to the gothic period, creating buildings in Vienne,
Prague and Cologne (Grodeki,1986:22).
The cathedral display’s many aspects of this predecessor the
Abby of St Denis. The Cathedral is segmented. The buttresses and flying
buttresses separate each lancet window while creating a unity connecting all
the sections, generating a juxtaposition. Moreover, it incorporates the rose
window within a square setting, flanked by two tall towers. However, the towers
appear a lot more ornate, decorated with a cascade of pinnacles. This aspect is
what attribute to Gothic’s well renowned spikey and foreboding demeanour, aided
by the unusually pointed frame of the doorways surrounded with small pinnacles.
While looking powerful and fearsome, it maintains a regal beauty. The many
small details merge into a delicate lace style, reflecting the power of the church
and monarchs. Power is full of beauty and riches but it also commands the power
to destroy. It possesses an intimidating
The many spires and pinnacles are a mark gothic architecture
of this region. in buildings such as
Cattedrale di Siena, Italy. Even the flying buttresses are ornamented with any
pinnacles. On the Prague Cathedral, with each spire holding a holy cross, it
can be seen to represent a step closer to connecting with god. People come to
church to pray and to repent for their sins. In each act, they are trying to
meet the morale to achieve access to heaven. This is an apt use as this is
meant to house an archbishop, a man who is vastly closer to god and his
teachings than most of the general population. The pinnacles get progressively
closer with one golden cross high above them all. Almost saying you may live in
religious mortality but no one will ever know god. Furthermore, the supporting
flying. No one should question the power or word of god. Furthermore, the buttresses
shift towards the centre pinnacle, much like steps. The flying buttresses link
the outer pinnacles with the centre tower, all pulling the highest golden
The masses of long lancet windows elongate the structure as Instead
of portraying each story it becomes one long story, making it more imposing and
awe-inspiring to its visitors. Additionally, it decreases the use of walls,
which allows more light within the interior.
One of the crowning
examples of the new take on the style is the Prague cathedral. Prague was to
become the centre of power of the Holy Roman Empire for Charles IV, to be crowned
the Holy Roman Emperor (Preidel, 2007). Furthermore, Prague had been promoted
by the Vatican to an arch-bishopric (Frankel, 1962:161). Thus, they must have a
monument to display the newfound wealth, power and divinity given to them with
the title. Gothic was used in France and Britain for this expressed purpose. Accordingly,
Charles IV brought over Matthias of Arras who previously designed Narbonne
Cathedral, to construct the crowning jewel of his empire (Frankel, 1962:161).
While the Holy Roman
Empire took a while to build in the gothic style. Their political disagreements
with France, the birthplace of Gothic style, made this region oppose the new
style (Watkins, 2015:185). The soon-to-be Holy Roman emperor Charles IV was
brought up in France, witnessing the rise of Gothic architecture
(Frankel, 1962:161). Thus, when he chose to settle in Prague (Frankel, 1962:161) he brought with him the gothic
genre as well as the wealth and power to impress the style upon the landscape.
Once the style was established brought the style to a new height.
England also progressed from to two more decorative versions
of the rib vault, the fan vault and the pendant vault. Both styles can be found
in Henry VII’s chapel at West Minster Abbey. Each rib connects to its own
pendent which rises into fan vaulting. The complex vaulting appears like lace,
beautiful and delicate. The huge stone ceiling appeared “to rest on nothing
more substantial than walls of glass” (Watkins 2015:180). The building appears
to defy even gravity, many must have thought something so extraordinary must be
blessed by god. Henry VII would strived for this perception as his reign relied
on his divine right of kings (Foresi, 2014). Thus, he must appear to be blessed
The aspects of huge
Gothic constructions bled down to smaller more modest buildings of the time.
Edward William Godwin (1833-83) was a Victorian architect who incorporated
gothic style in a less ornate way (Yarwood 1993:194). One of his most renowned
structures was the town hall of Congleton. He fused within a staple of English
gothic architecture; the lancet window. Lancet windows are described as “a
tall, one-light, narrow window with a sharply pointed arch.” (Yarwood 1993:415).
They take the shape of a knight’s lance, giving the viewer images of chivalry
and noble stories of glorious crusades and wars. A town hall is the hub of
community and regulation for the betterment of all. To link these two ideas is
As well as some of the classic aspects of gothic
architecture already seen such as flying buttresses, Canterbury Cathedral set
the precedent for the Gothic style within England. The use of Purbeck marble
was started within this design and then became wide spread in the English
upper-class (Watkins, 2015:168). The patterned marble pulls the viewers’
attention to columns. The large main column is engulfed by many slender columns
made of dark marble. This pulls to viewers’ attention, like within St Denis,
upward to the ceiling where they meet a classic gothic rib vault.
The ‘new French
style’ rapidly spread throughout Europe. It crossed the channel when a large
fire engulfed Canterbury Cathedral. As a result, gothic architecture crossed
the channel to Britain when “master masons from England and France were invited
to give their advice on how to rebuild this prestigious metropolitan cathedral”
(Watkin, 2015:168). England, much like France, needed a new form of
architecture to express their new-found independence and national pride.
England had been ruled by Normans until this point (Thomas, 2003). King Henry II started a revolt against the
Norman invaders, which he won in 1174 (Thomas, 2003).
They needed to forge a national narrative that England and the crown was
strong, achieving this through art, music and architecture. William of Sens was
chosen to erect his gothic structure without disturbing the remaining Norman
pieces (Frankl,1962:49). By lengthening the choir and constructing a new gothic
ambulatory while keeping the new ambulatory (Frankl,1962:49),
he created a lengthy cathedral unusual in Britain at the time. Thus, it appears
like a progression through the old to the new. The new columns added were
inspired by the old pillars. The new kept the same width as the old (Watkins,
2015:168). This is unusual of gothic architecture, who favour much thinner
pillars to increase the flow of light into the interior. Cleverly, he extended
the pillars to tower over the old, symbolizing a progression to a bright
future, yet keeping aspects of the old. Early English gothic was much cleaner
and simplified from the complex and overbearing French take on the style.
Abbots ideas on light and space were very influential to the
gothic period (Watkins, 2015:150). He believed that light possessed a divinity (Frankl, 1962:30). Thus, he picked architectural ideas
that would allow for a bright space. Achieved with larger windows and thinner
minimal walls (Watkins, 2015:150), the space became lighter and open. He used vast
stain glass windows to create a radiant interior (Watkins, 2015:151).
Consequently, it marked a break with the Romanesque period, which commonly
favoured smaller rounder windows. The large windows were supported by ribbed
vaulting. Ribbed vaulting sections off space without the use of physical walls (Watkins,
2015:150). Each arch divide space, while simultaneously linking it with the
next when the ribs of the arches intersect. This creates a flow of space aided
by the slimmed walls and columns (Watkins, 2015:150), allowing each room to become a
part of the next. The ribbed arches gave their shape to the windows. They
created long and pointed arches, portraying the interior. The windows are
pointed at the top, possibly inspired by Islamic architecture seen during the
catholic expansion. The steep top draws the eyes to its pinnacle. Everything
about the interior and exterior encourages the viewer to look skyward, towering
to the heavens not just in physical height but in direction of lines (Watkins,
2015:149). Thus, connecting the viewer to god. This unity was the foundation of
gothic architecture. The arches, rib vaults and buttresses “draws the storeys
into unity and overcomes the Romanesque principle of considering each storey as
a separate entity” (Frankl, 1962:57)
The façade has very
defined sections, marked out by window placement and huge vertical buttresses
separating the three entrances. Furthermore, the flying buttresses had an
aesthetic purpose as well as a structural (Grodecki, 1979). They reflected the
boundaries of each interior ribbed vault, while supporting the weight of it.
The ribs of the vault add extra support to the structure. The window arches
also portray the width of each vault section. The dissection of the building reflects the
use of space within. This idea was replicated throughout the gothic period.
Abbot Sugar was one
of the most influential and foremost patrons of gothic architecture (Grodecki 1979:29).
He funded a pioneering renovation of the desolate church Abbey of St-Dennis in
1138 (Watkins, 2015:150),
meant to celebrate new found French national pride and attempt to mark France
as the new hub of continental European Christendom. The crusades were expanding
and protect the Catholic empire inspired a celebration of faith. This
inspiration bled into the art, music and architecture of the period.
Art has always been used to record and express the culture
and emotions of the people. Architecture is one of these forms of art. The
elements that encompassed gothic architecture had been used prior to its birth.
It was only as these elements were required to illustrate and solidify the new
philosophy, spiritual beliefs and national identity of France at the time, that
they were brought to the forefront. France was experiencing a time of expansion
initiated when Phillip II Augustus inherited the throne. During his reign
France became the most powerful monarchy in continental Europe. This, alongside
the France’s involvement in crusades in the East for Catholicism, created a
renewed national pride reflected by the gothic period.