Gothic architecture: technologies and construction site management

Risultato della ricerca: Conference contribution


During the Gothic times, between the XIV and the XV centuries, depending on the location, many interesting developments occurred. Such an architectural movement moved towards completely new directions and ideas if compared to the previous centuries’ construction. First of all the concept of the space, inner or external, that became highly polycentric and driven to the highness and to a certain dematerialization of the solids. Such a novel vision was often related to the new religious fervour of that time. Some examples are the reduction of the masonry’s sections, a massive usage of large coloured glazing, and the creation of light groined vaults. On the exterior, all of that corresponded to a complex grid of structural elements able to uniformly transmit the loads but, creating, at the same time, a real architectural work of art. Indeed, the Gothic construction was characterized by a limited knowledge of the science of materials, mechanics and statics, and exploited just few and empirical elementary methods of calculation of materials resistance and geometry. From the other hand, this period showed an extraordinary courage, despite the number of the building collapses and failures occurred. Basing on the experience of the previous centuries, and by means of choosing the best technical constructive solution and appropriate materials, this new “style” became highly common and, simultaneously, it adapted and fit to the intellectual capacity, and to the material and financial resources, of the various geographical contexts and customers. More particularly, the most innovative areas were Germany, England, Bohemia, and Poland, as well as the Iberian peninsula where some interesting buildings flourished. This paper analyses the various phases of a typical Gothic construction site, along with its organization and management, enumerating the technological issues related to the novel ideas of architecture along with the adopted solutions. It will also analyse the various professional figures that contributed to the erection of a construction: from the architects to the hard workforce, to the most refined artists. A strict hierarchy whose practical experience lead to different skills and organizational management. Also the drawing up and the realization of novel machines and equipment were a big deal, happily overcome thanks to a very wise craftsmanship. Outlining such a historical developments is extremely useful not only for the historical memory of the construction but also to recall a series of operational and technical acts that can be easily found during the restoration of an ancient building. Indeed, investigating historical technologies and materials is highly useful, if not compulsory, to preserve at best a historical artefact, whatever it is a building or an object.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteARCHTHEO '18
Numero di pagine14
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2018


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