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The vocabulary of Architectural styles

Romanesque architecture is the term that is used to describe the architecture of Middle Ages Europe
which evolved into the Gothic style beginning in the 12th century. The term "Romanesque", meaning
"descended from Roman", was used to describe the style from the early 19th century. The Romanesque
style in England is more traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.

Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, its thick walls, round arches, sturdy piers,
groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms and they are
frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan so that the overall appearance is one of simplicity.

Many castles were built during this period, but they are greatly outnumbered by churches. The most
significant are the great abbey churches, many of which are still standing, more or less complete and
frequently in use.

The walls of Romanesque buildings are often of massive thickness with few and comparatively small
openings. They are often double shells, filled with rubble. In Romanesque architecture, piers, upright
support for a superstructure, were often employed to support arches.
The main types of column were:

 salvaged columns (Roman columns salvaged and reused in the interiors and on the porticos of
churches). They may have retained their original Roman capitals, generally of the Corinthian or
Roman Composite style.
 drum columns: in most parts of Europe, Romanesque columns were massive, as they supported
thick upper walls with small windows, and sometimes heavy vaults. The most common method of
construction was to build them out of stone cylinders called drums.
 hollow core columns: where really massive columns were called for, they were constructed of
masonry and the hollow core was filled with rubble. These huge columns are sometimes
ornamented with incised decorations.

The foliate Corinthian style provided the inspiration for many Romanesque capitals. The Corinthian
capital is essentially round at the bottom where it sits on a circular column and square at the top, where
it supports the wall or arch. A common characteristic of Romanesque buildings, occurring both in churches
and in the arcades which separate large interior spaces of castles, is the alternation of piers and
columns.

Arches in Romanesque architecture are semicircular, with the exception of a very small number of
buildings in which pointed arches have been used extensively. While small windows might be surmounted
by a solid stone lintel, larger windows are nearly always arched. Doorways are also surmounted by a
semi-circular arch, except where the door is set into a large arched recess and surmounted by a semi-
circular "lunette" with decorative carving.
The majority of buildings have wooden roofs, generally of a simple truss, tie beam or king post form. In
churches, typically the aisles are vaulted, but the nave is roofed with timber. Vaults of stone or brick
took on several different forms. The simplest type of vaulted roof is the barrel vault. Groin vaults occur
very frequently in earlier Romanesque buildings, particularly in crypts and aisles. A groin vault is almost
always square in plan and is constructed of two barrel vaults intersecting at right angles. In ribbed vaults,
not only are there ribs spanning the vaulted area transversely, but each vaulted bay has diagonal ribs.

The simplest Romanesque churches are aisless halls with a projecting apse at the chancel end, or
sometimes, particularly in England, a projecting rectangular chancel with a chancel arch that might be
decorated with mouldings. More ambitious churches have aisles separated from the nave by arcades.

Abbey and cathedral churches generally follow the Latin Cross plan. In England, the extension eastward
may be long, while in Italy it is often short or non-existent, the church being of T plan, sometimes with
apses on the transept ends as well as to the east. In France the church of St Front, Perigueux, is of a
Greek cross plan with five domes.
The south transept of Winchester Cathedral is in 3 stages. In Germany, Romanesque churches are often of
distinctive form, having apses at both east and west ends, the main entrance being central to one side. It
is probable that this form came about to accommodate a baptistery at the west end.

The typical aisled church or cathedral has a nave with a single aisle on either side. The nave and aisles
are separated by an arcade carried on piers or on columns. Above the aisle roof are a row of windows
known as the clerestory, which give light to the nave. During the Romanesque period there was a
development from this two-stage elevation to a three-stage elevation in which there is a gallery, known as
a triforium, between the arcade and the clerestory.

Romanesque church façades, generally to the west end of the building, are usually symmetrical, have a
large central portal made significant by its mouldings or porch and an arrangement of arched-topped
windows. In Italy there is often a single central ocular window. The common decorative feature is
arcading. Smaller churches often have a single tower which is usually placed to the western end, in
France or England, either centrally or to one side, while larger churches and cathedrals often have two. At
San Miniato al Monte the definition of the architectural parts is made even clearer by the polychrome
marble, a feature of many Italian Medieval facades, particularly in Tuscany. Towers were an important
feature of Romanesque churches and a great number of them are still standing. They take a variety of
forms, square, circular and octagonal, and are positioned differently in relation to the church in different
countries. In Italy, there are a number of large free-standing towers which are circular, the most famous
of these being the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Arcading is the single most significant decorative feature of Romanesque architecture. It occurs in a
variety of forms, from the Lombard band which is a row of small arches that appear to support a roofline
or course, to shallow blind arcading often a feature of English architecture, to open galleries such as
those on both Pisa Cathedral and its famous Leaning Tower.

The Romanesque period produced a profusion of sculptural ornamentation. This most frequently took a
purely geometric form and was particularly applied to mouldings, both straight courses and the curved
moldings of arches. The large wall surfaces and plain, curving vaults of the Romanesque period lent
themselves to mural decoration. Unfortunately, many of these early wall paintings have been destroyed
by damp or the walls have been replastered and painted over. The oldest-known fragments of medieval
pictorial stained glass appear to date from the 10th century.

During the 12th century, features that were to become typical of Gothic architecture began to appear.
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture which flourished during the high and late medieval period.
It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture.

Originating in 12th-century France and lasting into the 16th century, its characteristic features include the
pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress.

Gothic architecture is most familiar as the architecture of many of


the great cathedrals, abbeys and parish churches of Europe. It is also
the architecture of many castles, palaces, town halls, guild halls,
universities, and to a less prominent extent, private dwellings.

A series of Gothic revivals began in mid-


18th century England, spread through
19th-century Europe and continued,
largely for ecclesiastical and university structures, into the 20th century.

The Gothic style, when applied to an ecclesiastical building, emphasizes


verticality and light.

A Gothic cathedral or abbey was, prior to the 20th century, generally the
landmark building in its town, rising high above all the domestic structures
and often surmounted by one or more towers and pinnacles and perhaps tall
spires.

Most Gothic churches, unless they are entitled chapels, are of the Latin cross
(or "cruciform") plan, with a long nave, a transept and beyond it, the
extension called choir, chancel or presbytery. There are several regional variations on this plan. The
nave is generally flanked on either side by aisles, usually singly, but sometimes double.

The defining characteristic of Gothic architecture is the pointed or ogival arch. Gothic openings such as
doorways, windows, arcades and galleries have pointed arches. Gothic vaulting above spaces both large
and small is usually supported by richly moulded ribs. Niches with pointed arches and containing statuary
are a major external feature. A characteristic of Gothic church architecture is its height, both real and
proportional. A section of the main body of a Gothic church usually shows the nave as considerably taller
than it is wide.

Externally, towers and spires are characteristic of Gothic


churches both great and small, the number and positioning
being one of the greatest variables in Gothic architecture. On
the exterior, the verticality is emphasised in a major way by
the towers and spires and in a lesser way by strongly
projecting vertical buttresses.

Through the Gothic period, due to the versatility of the


pointed arch, the structure of Gothic windows developed from
simple openings to immensely rich and decorative sculptural
designs. The windows were very often filled with stained glass
which added a dimension of colour to the light within the
building, as well as providing a medium for figurative and narrative art. Central
to the façade is the main portal, often flanked by additional doors. In the arch
of the door, the tympanum, is often a significant piece of sculpture, most
frequently Christ in Majesty and Judgment Day. If there is a central door jamb
or a tremeu, then it frequently bears a statue of the Madonna and Child. There
may be much other carving, often of figures in niches set into the mouldings
around the portals, or in sculptural screens extending across the facade.

In the centre of the middle level of the facade, there is a large window, which
in countries other than England and Belgium, is generally a rose window like
that at Reims Cathedral. The gable above this is usually richly decorated with
arcading or sculpture, or in the case of Italy, may be decorated, with the rest
of the facade, with polychrome marble and mosaic, as at Orvieto Cathedral.

Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th
centuries in different regions of Europe, in which there was a conscious revival and development of
certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture.

The Renaissance style places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as
in the architecture of classical antiquity and in particular ancient Roman architecture. Orderly
arrangements of columns, pilasters and lintels, as well as the use of semicircular arches, hemispherical
domes, niches and aedicules replaced the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of
medieval buildings.

Plan
The plans of Renaissance buildings have a square, symmetrical appearance.
Façades are symmetrical around their vertical axis. Church facades are generally
surmounted by a pediment and organized by a system of pilasters, arches and
entablatures. One of the first true Renaissance facades was the Cathedral of
Pienza (1459–62).

Domestic buildings are often surmounted by a cornice. There is a regular


repetition of openings on each floor, and the centrally placed door is marked by
a feature such as a balcony, or rusticated surround. The Roman orders of
columns are used: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. The orders
can either be structural, supporting an arcade or architrave, or purely
decorative, set against a wall in the form of pilasters.

Arches
Arches are semi-circular or (in the Mannerist style) segmental. Arches are often used in arcades,
supported on piers or columns with capitals.

Vaults
Vaults do not have ribs. They are semi-circular or segmental and on a square plan, unlike the Gothic vault.

Domes
The dome is used frequently, both as a very large structural feature that is visible from the exterior, and
also as a means of roofing smaller spaces where they are only visible
internally. Domes had been used only rarely in the Middle Ages, but
after the success of the dome in Brunelleschi’s design for the Basilica
di Santa Maria del Fiore and its use in Bramante’s plan for St. Peter's
Basilica (1506) in Rome, the dome became an indispensable element
in church architecture and later even for secular architecture.

Ceilings
Roofs are fitted with flat or coffered ceilings. They are not left open
as in Medieval architecture. They are frequently painted or
decorated.

Doors
Doors usually have square lintels. They may be set within an arch or surmounted by a triangular or
segmental pediment. Openings that do not have doors are usually arched and frequently have a large or
decorative keystone.

Windows
Windows may be paired and set within a semi-circular arch. They may have square lintels and triangular or
segmental pediments, which are often used alternately. Windows are used to bring light into the building
and in domestic architecture, to give views. Stained glass, although sometimes present, is not a feature.

Walls
External walls are generally of highly-finished ashlar masonry, laid in straight courses. The corners of
buildings are often emphasised by rusticated quoins. Basements and ground floors were often rusticated.
Internal walls are smoothly plastered and surfaced with white-chalk paint. For more formal spaces,
internal surfaces are decorated with frescoes.

Baroque architecture, starting in the early 17 th century in Italy, followed Renaissance architecture and
was meant to express the triumph of absolutist church and state. Concern for color, light and shade,
sculptural values and intensity characterize the Baroque.

Michelangelo's late Roman buildings, particularly St. Peter's Basilica, may be considered precursors of
Baroque architecture. In the 17th century, the Baroque style spread through Europe and Latin America,
where it was particularly promoted by the Jesuits.

Important features of Baroque architecture include:

 long, narrow naves are replaced by broader, occasionally circular forms


 dramatic use of light, either strong light-and-shade contrasts, chiaroscuro effects, or uniform
lighting by means of several windows
 opulent use of ornaments (puttos made of wood (often gilded), plaster or stucco, marble or faux
finishing)
 large-scale ceiling frescoes
 the external façade is often characterized by a dramatic central projection
 the interior is often no more than a shell for painting and sculpture (especially in the late
Baroque)
 illusory effects like trompe l'oeil and the blending of painting and architecture