What are the characteristics of Gothic architecture

Provide a 2 pages analysis while answering the following question: What are the characteristics of Gothic architecture Where and when did this style begin What does Gothic mean and from where did this term derive Using one of the Gothic churches as an example, describe what architectural features make it Gothic. D. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide. An abstract is required. The Gothic Architecture Gothic architecture is significant in several ways. It is crucial in the developmental evolution of architecture during the Middle Ages and it departed from the principles of Roman art, particularly those designed in the East. The aesthetic narrative of this architectural species is also interesting because it was originally considered barbaric by the culture European elite. As it progressed, however, it became the preferred style of many European churches because it appealed much to the ecclesiastical taste (Hopkins 1826, 1)

The word “gothic” especially in the context of architecture and art was originally derogatory. It was synonymous to the word “barbaric” and was coined somewhere from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. It was equated with medieval art, which was then widely scoffed at for its pointed style.

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During its development, Gothic architecture has been generally considered as French work (opus francigenum) because it originated in France and most styles found in other countries or contemporary designs are considered imitation of the pointed or the Gothic detail or typified by the superficial application of pointed or Gothic detail to buildings that are constructed based on Romanesque principles (Kimball & Edgell 2001, 273,277).

The development of the Gothic style showed strong influence of the Romanesque architecture such as the inclusion of elements like the pointed arch and the rib vault, the arch added to the surface of the vault (Hendrix 2011, 25). According to Chiu (2011), it also continued the Romanesque challenge of building larger cathedrals and focused on religious matter in its sculptural, painted and glass expressions (82). This relationship underscored the role of the Church in the Gothic stylistic development. For instance, the addition of the spires is a prominent religious aspiration. There is also the emphasis on the vast space and lots of light in order to create an impression of reverence (Chiu, 82). Indeed, many Gothic structures are dominated by churches.

The Gothic style broke away from Romanesque influence when it developed further after 1100s as Europe grew in prosperity and the aesthetic taste changed. The massive wall structure reminiscent of previous styles was eliminated in favor of the “lighter and more diaphanous structure with an emphasis on diagonal lines and views” (Watkin 2005, 149). This new style was achieved through a novel structural design that is akin to human skeleton and also featured a kind of verticality that obscured horizontal lines, effectively presenting a soaring effect, seemingly defying gravity. There was also the development of the flying buttress, which are stone arches that support the roof. While the gothic style did not create new stylistic elements, it successfully combined features of previous architectural styles into a harmonious work of art.

The Abbey Church of St. Denis is one of the most excellent examples of Gothic architecture. It demonstrated the integration of Gothic aesthetic system dominated by the combination of rib vaults, wall shafts and pointed arches. This achieved an unadulterated Gothic experience with an illusion of a soaring and floating roof/dome and the diaphanous interior effect.

All in all, the Gothic style is an important development in the history of human architecture. It dominated the architectural landscape in Europe for centuries and reflected the values, culture and advances of an age, particularly the overriding concern for religion. Its magnificence sought to capture the heaven and the nobility and virtue of the human soul.

Works Cited

Chiu, Y.C. An introduction to the History of Project Management, Part 1900. The Netherlands: Eburon Uitgeverji B.V., 2011. Print.

Hendrix, John. Architecture As Cosmology: Lincoln Cathedral and English Gothic Architecture. New York: Peter Lang, 2011. Print.

Hopkins, John Henry. Essay on Gothic Architecture: With Various Plans and Drawings for Churches. Designed Chiefly for the Use of the Clergy. Burlington: Smith & Harrington, 1826. Print.

Kimball, Fiske and Edgell, George. History of Architecture. Piscataway, NJ: Research and Education Association, 2001. Print.

Watkin, David. A History of Western Architecture. 4th ed. London: Laurence King Publishing. Print.

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