The composition of the church became pretty standard, with little cultural nuisances afflicted the cathedrals from country to country. All in the basilica form, "the Gothic cathedral was quickly standardized in its plan and basic components. There were, of course, distinctive regional variations...the cross-shaped plan was derived from Romanesque pilgrimage churches, with nave, side aisles, transept arms and crossing, and the chevet with ambulatory and radiating chapels enclosing a round-ended choir.” (Roth 333) Going back to the classical days, geometry and proportions became imperative in this buildings, with many cathedrals being built using the golden section. As the centuries moved on however, grappling with different ways to deal with these buildings extreme height changed the composition of the church.
The Greeks had pioneered the porch, court, and hearth on every scale in architecture. Present in each home to the layout of a city, this tradition is passed on to modern day architecture as well. The porch being perhaps a literal front porch or gateway, while the court being an open courtyard or the main gathering area/living room. The hearth is the most intimate setting, such as a kitchen or where the altar is. The Renaissance celebrated such a classical composition, and even “landscape architecture had been revived early in the fifteenth century as another manifestation of Classical civilization” (Roth 386).
In architecture you often need diagrams to see all the math that goes into these buildings. Watching the animated video unfold step by step the making of the Amiens Cathedral really helped understand the anatomy of the building. Architects during this period were really into geometry, looking back to Vitruvius's works. Vitruvius had used the human body as a diagram, because he thought the “ideal systems of proportion, he observed, can be found in the perfect proportions of the human body.” (Roth 359)
These massive cathedrals rise high above everything else in the city, leaving a lasting impression. These churches “stood for the Heavenly City of Jerusalem...and was a monument that seems to dwarf the man who enters it, for space, light, structure, and the plastic effects of masonry are organized to produce a visionary in the parts…and no standard relationship between solid and void" (Roth 301) The large stained glass windows, unbelievable height, and impressive sculptures were unlike anything else the public had seen. During the Renaissance they were obsessed with order, and in churches such as Brunelleschi’s Church of San Spirito in Florence, “the visitor would see a fully three-dimensional representation of a building as a constructed perspective, each architectural element assigned a precise place in a rationally ordered scheme.” (Roth 365)
These masterpieces were thought out to the very last detail. Every designer is a perfectionist, and even the smallest parts have are important to the buildings presence as a whole. These subtleties differentiate the Renaissance from the Classics, as "in every one of Michelangelo’s architectural designs, what appear at first to be standard classical architectural elements are in fact subtly manipulated in defiance to the conventions of Classical design, for Michelangelo was molding them as elements in gigantic sculpture” (Roth 382)
The composition of a building is most helpful seen through diagrams, since there was so much focus on the geometry of a building. Each building has its own definition of a court, porch, and hearth. But the details in the buildings really make them special, renowned artists were put to work sculpting and painting giant frescos to really make these buildings one of a kind. The Renaissance has had a lasting impression on this world, today still regarded as one of the most artistically expressive and engineering times in our history.
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