New Research Proves that Iron Was an Important Medieval Building Material

At Beauvais Cathedral, iron ties that were thought to have been added centuries after were instead dated to the early 13th century. Image © Flickr CC user James Mitchell

The Gothic cathedrals of the middle ages have long been respected as sites of significant architectural and structural experimentation. Hoping to reach ever closer to God, the master masons of the period took increasingly daring structural risks, resulting in some remarkably durably buildings that are not only timeless spaces for worship but miraculous feats of engineering. However, according to new research by a team of French archaeologists and scientists, we still haven’t been giving these historic builders enough credit.

Though iron components feature in many  buildings, often forming structural ties to stabilize tall stone buttresses, it was previously assumed that these were later additions to shore up precarious structures. However, thanks to a highly sophisticated carbon dating technique, the team consisting of the Laboratoire archéomatériaux et prévision de l’altération, the Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14 and “Histoire des pouvoirs, savoirs et sociétés” of Université Paris 8 have shown that iron fixtures were an integral part of cathedral construction techniques from as early as the late 12th Century – meaning that many buildings from the period were essentially hybrid structural systems.

VIDEO: Design in 6 Lovely, Digestible Nutshells

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(Almost) everything you need to know about 20th century has been synthesized into 6 brightly-colored, easily-digestible videos (all narrated by the sweet Scottish tones of one Ewan MacGregor).

From the Gothic Revival to Post-, this series of shorts from The Open University’s OpenLearn website just touches the surface of these design movements; however, they act as a great introduction for the un-design-initiated (indeed, The Open University sees them as an intro to their free course on Design Thinking) or, for design-aficionados, a fun refresher.

We’re particular to the video on the Bauhaus (after all, we also tackled the movement in a brilliant infographic) and the Modernist video (after the break) – but you can find all 6 at OpenLearn. Enjoy!

Cathedral Announces Competition to Design Tomb for King Richard III

Cathedral via Wikimedia Commons

Since the remains of Richard III were discovered beneath a car-park near Leicester Cathedral last year, the local church has been left with a perplexing question: what to do with him now? The King’s remains are an important part of English history, and an important tourist attraction, but how should they mark his final resting place?

In response to this issue, Cathedral authorities have launched a design competition asking selected architects to submit ideas for a new tomb for King Richard that will be located in the Cathedral. The brief is an unusually delicate one; the architects submissions will have to consider appropriate symbolism and practicality in their design, not to mention the challenge of designing, in a modern age, the grave of someone who lived centuries ago. They also need to be mindful of the controversy surrounding the King, as the brief states: Richard demonstrated both the honorable and dishonorable characteristics of human beings.”  Some consider him a great English King,  while others, a bloodthirsty tyrant.

Read more about the brief and see an early submission after break…

Gotham City’s Architecture Portrayed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Skyline, Photo by esherman - http://www.flickr.com/photos/esher27/

Director Christopher Nolan is preparing to shoot his third and final Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” which promises to bring the events of its blockbuster predecessors full circle. The filmmaker will experience new ground with the conclusion to his trilogy by shooting a portion of the film in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Shooting locations for Nolan’s Batman installments are shot all over the world, in places such as, India, Iceland, Romania, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York City, , and now Pittsburgh. Each location offers unique elements of architecture to create the look and feel of Gotham City and Batman’s world. More information after the break.