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This article argues that Richard of St Victor's twelfth-century architectural drawings for his historical exegesis of Ezekiel's vision of the Temple of Jerusalem is more sophisticated than the historiography has suggested to date. In his commentary, Richard provided plans and elevations for a number of different buildings, including the Temple's gatehouse. When attempting to convey the dimensions of the gatehouse, he made a distinction between measurements taken as if along a flat plane and those that take the slope of the mountain into account, calling these planum and superficies respectively, words that indicate a strong correlation to contemporary practices in geometry. When he wished to illustrate the dimensions of a gatehouse's interior, he included a lateral section of the building, which is possibly the earliest in existence. The use of the term planum (similar in meaning to the subsequent word ‘plan’) and the appearance of a section are unusually early, although there is still no evidence that Richard's work directly influenced later architectural drawings.
This paper examines the carpentry of the late medieval roof of Westminster Hall. The structure, a hammer-beam roof, is analysed from the perspective of the king's carpenter Hugh Herland. This analysis is based on drawings made in 1913 to facilitate the repair of the roof, and on the author's archaeological reconstruction of the carpentry based on those drawings. Herland's experience at Winchester in the early 1390s, immediately before beginning work at Westminster, is also considered. The paper also places the Westminster roof in the context of earlier hammer-beam roofs, particularly Pilgrims' Hall, Winchester. It concludes that the hammer-beam carpentry was crucial to the roof's structure, and that Herland intended the hall's ‘great arched ribs’ primarily as ornamental components.
The construction from 1386 of Milan Cathedral, the largest Gothic church ever constructed in Italy, was one of the most important episodes in the history of Italian and European architecture. The documentation of the late Trecento and early Quattrocento discussions over how to build the Cathedral is extraordinarily rich and extensive, and permits a consideration of the project from many points of view including the relationship between medieval architectural theory and an actual project. At the same time, any enquiry has to contend with the copious modern literature and the conclusions that have been reached hitherto – often erroneously in our view – about many of the most salient points. We thus re-examine published and unpublished documentation and the existing literature, analysing especially the format of the building's elevation, the proposals by Gabriele Stornaloco and Jean Mignot, and the drawings attributed to Antonio di Vincenzo. We also reconsider the notions of ars and scientia which have previously been misinterpreted in discussions of the cathedral documentation.
Art historians usually find little evidence for the nature of communication between patrons and architects in the Middle Ages. Scholarly opinion has often placed the burden of new design with masons, but over the course of the later twentieth century this claim has been revised and nuanced. This paper uses the evidence of wills and contracts in order to answer two questions: what techniques did medieval patrons use to describe their wishes to their masons; and how prescriptive were their requirements? Its conclusions suggest that patrons, even of local or parochial projects, could make highly specific and creative demands for new works, based on critical and perceptive judgements of recently constructed buildings in their local area. It recreates the discursive and disputatious design process adopted in several parishes as they planned, contracted and executed new church buildings.
Ancient granite columns have been a pervasive element in the architecture of Rome since the Imperial era. However, in the fifteenth century, just as the effort to revive Antiquity intensified, these ubiquitous and durable ancient columns fell out of use. It was instead the stone travertine that became the columnar material of choice. Yet, just as quickly as this change occurred, within an exceptionally short period of thirty years, beginning with the construction of the Palazzo della Cancelleria courtyard, Rome saw a renascence in their application. While little has been made of this material shift, this article argues that the sudden extensive employment of spoliated granite columns was a crucial component in the recovery of a distinctly local Roman Antiquity. It was through the use and transformation of spolia that builders and patrons attempted to create an architecture that not only recalled Antiquity, but resubstantiated it, literally making it whole again.
This article examines drawings associated with the sixteenth-century Italian architect, Galeazzo Alessi, focusing primarily on two important collections: the 112 folios held in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan for the Milanese church of S. Maria presso S. Celso and the so-called Libro dei Misteri in Varallo's Biblioteca Civica, which contains 318 drawings for the pilgrimage site of the Sacro Monte there. By comparing Alessi's handwriting and drawing style across a variety of different letters and drawings present in archives in Genoa, Milan and Varallo, it is argued that all the drawings held in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana folder and in the Libro dei Misteri must be the work of Alessi himself. The article then moves on to a discussion of Alessi's use of drawings in his practice and the developing role of the architect in the sixteenth century , which, it is argued, was increasingly defined by the ability of the architect to invent and to draw rather than to build.
In this article we argue against the widely held view that Lord Burlington's love for architecture was inspired by the writings of the third Earl of Shaftesbury, particularly his Letter Concerning Design. First, we seek to demonstrate that Burlington could not have been familiar with, or even aware of, Shaftesbury's Letter until long after the development of his interest in architecture. Secondly, we argue that Shaftesbury's true architectural heirs advanced an agenda that was distinct from, and even hostile to, Burlingtonian Palladianism; and that the supposed link between the Letter and Burlington has served to distract historians from this. We suggest, thirdly, that the importance assigned to the Letter by architectural historians has derived from a longstanding and hugely influential interpretation of the rise of Burlingtonian Palladianism, an interpretation undermined by much recent work by revisionist architectural historians but still prevalent. Finally, having argued against the link between Shaftesbury and Burlington, we posit an alternative source for Burlingtonian Palladianism.
St Stephen's Chapel Westminster is one of Europe's great lost buildings. An elaborate palatine chapel, work on it began in 1292 and continued until at least 1363. After 1546 it became the House of Commons and was so obscured by successive alterations that the original building had passed out of living memory by the late eighteenth century. It was then that it attracted the interest of a number of antiquaries who recorded it in the years up to and after the fire of 1834. In 1837 it was demolished. The antiquaries’ accounts provide the only records of the chapel's appearance and construction and have been much used in studies of the medieval building. This article, however, considers them as a body of work in their own right, one that casts light not only on St Stephen's but on the changing attitudes of the Romantic age towards history and the medieval past in the years which saw the transformation of the Gothic Revival and the birth of the modern idea of conservation.
In mid nineteenth-century Britain, the study of geology involved radical new understandings of the earth's history. This had ramifications for architecture, providing new ways of seeing stone and designing buildings. This article examines the works of stone-mason Charles Smith. Following the destruction of the Houses of Parliament in 1834, the government initiated a national survey to select a stone for Britain's new legislature. Alongside geologists Henry De la Beche and William Smith, Charles Smith toured the buildings and quarries of Britain, producing a report that was intended to guide not only the choice of stone at Westminster, but all future architectural projects. He spent the following two decades promoting geological knowledge for architectural work. His reading of texts that examined the earth's geological formation, such as Charles Lyell's, shaped new understandings of stone and cement. This article demonstrates how, in a rapidly industrialising society, geology and architecture became increasingly inseparable.
During the twentieth century, diverse cultures from around the globe served as vital sources for architects who attempted to merge Modernist ideas with traditional values. Richard Neutra (1892–1970) absorbed ideas from Japan, the American Middle West and his own native Austria, and eventually his study of these regions deeply affected his work. By analysing archival sources and period publications, this article reveals that even before emigrating to the United States (1923), and throughout his career, the cultures of California, Latin America and Spain were also sources for Neutra's work. He travelled extensively throughout these regions, he researched their local customs and architecture and he deftly and purposefully incorporated vernacular elements, such as sun-shading devices, ventilation strategies and interior patios, into his own work. For his Latin American and Spanish colleagues, his work exemplified a successful fusion between their own traditions and Modernist principles.