Gothic architecture is a style of architecture which flourished during the high and late medieval period.
Originating in 12th-century France and lasting into the 16th century, Gothic architecture was known during the period as “the French Style”, with the term Gothic first appearing during the latter part of the as a Renaissance stylistic insult.
It evolved from Romanesque Architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance Architecture. The Goths contributed many architectural ideas. Those ideas have been used in various structures in the Gothic Period most importantly in the construction of Cathedrals. Renaissance Architecture which flourished after the Gothic Architecture adopted some of its ideas but modified it according to their architectural sense of understanding.
The elements that developed during the Gothic Period are as follows:
- Pointed Arch
- Fan-like Vault
- Flying Buttress
Gothic Architecture greatly emphasized on the construction of several Gothic Churches in Europe.
The Pointed Arch
The arches appeared in 2nd millenium BC in Mesopotamian Brick Architecture. Later on, the sophisticated and systematic use of arches to span huge structures was started by Romans.
The main feature of Gothic Architecture is a vaulting framework of intersecting, pointed arch ribs, which support thin stone panels. The ribs were constructed as the permanent ‘formwork’ and the space between them was filled with a pointed arch.
The Gothic pointed arch was derived from the Islamic Pointed Arch of Moorish Spain.
Reims Cathedral is the best example where the use of pointed arches is very prominent.
Vaulting system was adopted as structural elements.
Since, they did not use beams as structural elements, they discovered vaulting system that acted as ornaments and served the purpose of giving structural strength to the structure.
The interior of Gothic cathedral gives a feeling of spaciousness and great height. One can appreciate the piers blossoming out into a fan-like vault.
One of the famous example for Fan-like vaulting system: Vaulted Staircase of Christ Church, Oxford
Flying Buttress was another principle element that developed in the Gothic Period.
A flying buttress is a free-standing buttress attached to the main structure by an arch or a half-arch. Flying Buttresses were used as structural elements.
The evolution of exterior is an outcome of interior, and also the method of construction. In vaulting system used, the pressure due to the vault and the arch was transferred to the ground by buttresses which were called Flying Buttresses, thrusted on top by a pinnacle.
Notre Dame, Paris is an excellent example of Gothic Architecture.
Gothic Architecture was an intricate system of construction, which was practiced by generations of experts consisting of masons, artists and supervisors, who were both engineers and architects. They were the “Master Builders”.