"Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air and deep beneath the rolling waves in labyrinths of coral caves; the echo of a distant time came willowing across the sand and everything is green and submarine"

Pink Floyd

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reading Comprehension 3

1) Notre Dame of Amiens was inspired by Suger’s church, the monastery of Saint Dennis. Suger is known to be the founder of Gothic architecture. He improved the optical illusion of height and space by adding ribbed vaulting and pointed arches to the aedicule. Suger’s goal was to create a lighter more transparent architecture. Suger used natural lighting through stain glass windows to provide the essence of divine illumination.
The cathedrals that followed the Saint Dennis model were large and extravagant structures that took several years, possibly generations, to create. The construction time and complexity of the structure formed a unifying social principle. This theory reverts back to the pyramids and their ability to unify society under lifetime construction projects that created a microeconomic structure. There are differences in social construction between the pyramids and cathedrals. The pyramids were dedicated to one god like being who when died and exited the earth ending construction and social unification. The cathedrals, before and after completion provided a place for society to gather and unify. The church’s principle was to promote the worship of an everlasting being, providing ongoing use for the structure. The cathedral unified the city, and society was constructed around the church. As cities expanded more and more cathedrals arose. This unification principle can also be applied to moral standards in modern life. A society lacking in reinforced historical standards will split and regress due to a vast array of opinion. This is also evident in the reunification of the Roman Empire under Constantine. Constantine used a single religion that focused on peaceful cooperation to unify Rome under logical principles of sustainability.  
Notre Dame of Amiens is the largest cathedral in France. It is theorized that the increasing space is a reaction to the failed attempt at retaking the holy lands from the Muslims. The reaction was that the cathedral itself needed to be as vast and complex as possible to provide a visual example of divinity, since the symbolism of the holy lands were lost. This resulted in the increase of the size of gallery windows to allow more visual transparency. In order to create this effect the vaulting over the nave had to be changed in an unconventional way. The vaults were stretched upward losing the Roman barrel vaulting. Another vault was placed under the top and under the ceiling for reinforcement and created a skeletal ribbed structure. The exposed rib continued down the interior as an exposed column. A repetition and stacking of vaults occurred over the side isles creating the flying buttress. This structure defined the aedicule elaborately and possibly too much. The term Gothic, meaning barbaric, was possibly derived from resemblance of the exposed ribbed vaults to that of the human skeleton. Possibly the incorrect deduction was derived from a face value observation.
The overall shape of the church was derived from Romanesque pilgrimage churches. The cross shape has a nave with side isles and transept arms enclosing a round ended choir. The many chapels were dedicated to various saints. This stood to preserve the religious connection throughout time and give a lasting social construct. This also shows forward thinking in architectural design. The transept isles were paid for by various craft guilds and used for secular gatherings.  This shows that the church was the center of society and a pillar for social hierarchy. Entrances on the transept arms provided personal access to the secular isles. Another addition to the church is the towers located at the west entrance. This differed from other period churches in that only one tower was located at the crossing.

2) The woman is probably in one of the lesser rooms on the premises based upon the artifacts surrounding her. The room probably extends out into a courtyard that connects other residences. Another possibility is the connection to a great hall, a multifunctional living space that connected multiple rooms into one structure. The floor was probably dirt or brick. The walls were made of wood and windows were small possibly with iron mullions. The room was lit by a fire pit or candles. Textiles provide wall decorations such as hung rugs and tapestries. The ceilings were beamed in a heavy timber construction. Judging by the arched curve in the door header she is not of the poorest class as they would have only a post and beam style door. The furniture consisted of wooden chests, benches, stools, and tables with small scale motifs. The furniture is made of oak, pine or walnut and is held together by wooden dowels. The furniture is painted in bright colors. Textiles are used for seat padding. Beds are boxlike and surrounded with draperies for privacy and warmth.

1 comment:

  1. [1] A wonderful in depth look at Amiens, however, no comparisons with the other cathedrals on the website. [2] nice description of the medieval home