Gothic Architecture and Design – Cathedrals and Buildings

Gothic architecture was first used in cathedrals in France during the 12th and 13th century. The Cathedral Basilica of St.Denis is one of the most famous examples of a Gothic cathedral created during the medieval period. Abbot Suger (1081-1151) a French historian and Gothic architect, was the mind behind its creation. Suger’s inspirations came from travels to the east where pointed arches, varying colours and detailed patterns were used.

Traditionally, monks were the architects that designed churches in France, and often their creations were basic and practical. However; as powers in France increased there was also an increased desire to create symbols of religion and authority that were grand and spacious. Out of this need emerged concepts in Gothic architecture and design.

One of the first changes Gothic architecture brought to cathedral design was a change in vaulting. Architects worked on how to substitute a stone vault for a wooden roof, while incorporating the use of intersecting stone ribs. That lead to the development of expanded of windows, the use of flying buttresses for support, and the use of slender piers.

Gothic windows covered almost the entire wall surface and had varied designs with delicate stone decorations.The thick and heavy walls traditionally used in Romanesque cathedrals to create stability were abandoned and walls were made thinner and used as an active skeleton that integrated arches, piers and buttresses.

During the medieval period cathedrals were built in two forms: Romanesque and Gothic. Romanesque cathedrals had a few distinctive features. Firstly, the buildings used rounded arches for structure support. The rounded top of these arches exuded an increased force onto the cathedral walls, and thus the walls had to be thick for support. Additionally, buttresses were added along the side of the outer walls as support. Due to the thickness of the walls around the base of arches and the obstruction of the buttresses, windows could only be placed near the top of the walls and were small in size. Only smaller windows could be places along the lower sides of the walls, if they were even placed at all. The overall structures in these cathedrals resembled that of a fortress.

Gothic cathedrals created structures that managed structure forces differently. Gothic architects used flying buttresses to support cathedral arches. Basically, this meant that rather than placing the buttress directly next to the arch wall for support, the buttress was attached to the wall with a smaller connecting arch arm, creating support for the walls and rounded arches. This displaced the force from the arch walls and buttress to the foundation. Because of the space the flying buttress created between the walls and the supporting buttresses, windows could be placed lower on walls where the sun could enter and could also be made larger.Additionally, pointed arches were used as opposed to rounded for increased roof support.

Gothic architecture in cathedrals became the art of erecting buildings with stone vaults and thin walls, whose ribs intersected (concentration of load) and whose thrusts were supported by flying buttresses (the grounding of the thrusts). The downward and outward thrust of the vaulting was met by an equivalent resistance in buttress and solid earth, resulting in an equilibrium from well-adjusted opposing forces.

Although many think Gothic architecture was mainly concerned with elaborate design and heavy ornamentation, in actuality Gothic architecture emerged as a response to structural need with sound engineering. All forms of decoration came as an after thought to the practical designs. Gothic masters of work often said “nothing which is inherently needed could be ugly.” Gothic cathedrals sought to create larger buildings with increased support while doing away with blank walls and solid bland surfaces. Interestingly, modern copies of Gothic architecture tend to ignore the original engineering intent of the structures and often place a heavy emphasis on decoration.

Front Entry Design and Architecture

The front of your home sets the visual tone and appeal for your guests when they first arrive at your front door. Whether you like it or not, your front entry may be the deciding factor if your home looks inviting and welcoming or the complete opposite.

Materials such as stone, copper, wood, steel and brick can be used to finish a specific landscaping architecture or create a new one. Your house’s exterior paint color may be the most visible design decision you make, especially if showcased with exterior lights. The landscaping ideas in the front and side yards offer both a welcoming transition from street to door and a buffer between your home and the public spaces it shares. Architectural details on your home can enhance your front area and help set the tone for your interiors. Popular home designs in the U.S. include Victorian, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Tudor, Cape Cod, Mediterranean, Craftsman, Prairie Style, Art Deco, Modern, Mid-Century Modern, Ranch Style and today’s sleek, utilitarian LEED-certified “green” design, among many other architectural styles.

If you are trying to enhance your front entry, the colors and architectural style details you choose can provide all beauty you are looking for. The right set of landscape pictures can add dramatic impact to your garden plans and landscape plans.

Following are four design hints to make your front of house an everlasting positive image of you and your family.

Light the way

Have you ever been to a beautiful home in the daytime, but when you drive by the house in the evening the front entry is dark and uninviting? Landscape ideas that include architectural lighting can enhance your home, and make your home more inviting and safe to walk up to. Landscape lighting can also be included with architectural details, as they light the walkways, sidewalk, and front porch of your home. Use up lighting to also enhance architectural details like columns, niches, and trim enhancements on your exterior.

Highlight architectural period details

Whether your home is a modern and minimalist home or it is a Victorian styled home from hundreds of years ago, architectural period details are what makes your home unique and personalized. Look at your front entry and look for details that can be painted, enhanced or updated. Trim around windows, and doors, shutters, and cornice details can be painted in a contrasting color to stand out, or blend with surrounding features. Look at the front façade of your home as a whole and determine which details run around the perimeter of your home. Roof eave details and gutters can be highlighted with color and can make a bland front façade more visually appealing.

Mix and match materials

Often times the best way to beautify your front entry is to use existing materials and enhance them with a variety of others. Brick, stone, siding, cedar shingles, exposed wood and metals can all enhance each other in separate details of your front entry. To unite your front entry with other areas of your front façade, use the same geometric shape, but differentiate with colors, scale, and materials to bring your theme together. Strong geometry can beautify a front entry, and can be mimicked in you porch decor, front door, and even roof details.

Simplify your front entry

Have you ever noticed that the smallest details can often make the biggest difference and impact? Instead of using color to signify the front door, how about changing your front door style and shape to mimic surrounding exterior details? If you have stairs leading to your front door, use mosaic tiles and quarry tiles to highlight the way. Even simple walkway banisters and handrails can make a huge presence. Try updating your existing house numbers, wall mounted mail box and door hardware to complete the look!