Gothic Architecture and lighting- Steph

18 10 2008

Lighting in architecture has changed greatly throughout the cultural periods. Gothic architecture is one of the best examples of how natural light can be captured and used to accent the building. In the medieval period, buildings were designed around light. Cathedrals used different methods to capture the light and bring it into the spaces. This was done to produce light for the entire area as well as to illuminate specific spaces and features.Gothic cathedrals are beautiful and menacing.  The gothic style originated in European countries such as England, France and Italy during the medieval period. They were generally made from limestone, marble and sandstone and had many features that had never been seen before. Flying buttresses were used to make the buildings look higher than they really were, but were in fact taller than any building that had ever built previously.  The cathedrals also had gargoyles, columns, spires, and vaults which were seen covering them.

The vaulted ceilings caused the inside to be as grand as the outside. They were held up with columns, which became a piece of art on their own, and had massive windows which were also used as decoration. The windows were the only source of light, other than candles, and were exclusively decorated with stained glass. The vaulted ceilings reflected the light deep into the spaces and often the light was reflected onto certain statues or paintings in order to bring attention to them.   



In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the architecture changed and focused almost entirely on artificial lighting. It is only now, when energy costs are so high, that designers are looking back to previous architecture and finding ways to incorporate natural light.

-Steph M.




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