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Gothic: The Latest Architecture and News

The Origins and Evolution of Gothic Architecture

The word “Gothic” often envokes a description of mysterious homes, or a modern-day group of people who have an affinity for dark aesthetics, but what the gothic architectural style historically brought to the built environment could not have been more opposite. Gothic designs were actually created to bring more sunlight into spaces, mainly churches, and led to the design and construction of some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

How the Renaissance Influenced Architecture

After a prolonged period known as the Middle-Ages, a growing desire to both study and mimic nature itself began to emerge, with an inclination to discover and explore the world. Between 1400-1600 A.D. Europe was to witness a significant revival of the fine arts, painting, sculpture, and Architecture. The ‘Renaissance’, meaning ‘rebirth’ in French typically refers to this period of European history, although most closely associated with Italy, countries including England and France went through many of the same cultural changes at varying timescales.

Prior to the dawn of the Renaissance, Europe was dominated by ornate and asymmetrical Gothic Architecture. Devoured by the plague, the continent lost approximately a third of its population, vastly changing society in terms of economic, social and religious effect. Contributing to Europe’s emergence into the Renaissance, the period ushered in a new era of architecture after a phase of Gothic art, with the rise of notions of ‘Humanism’. The idea of attaching much importance to the essence of individualism. The effect of Humanism included the emergence of the individual figure, greater realism and attention to detail, especially in depictions in art.

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Spotlight: Raymond Hood

In a short but prodigious career Raymond Mathewson Hood (March 29, 1881 – August 14, 1934) had an outsized influence on twentieth century architecture. Born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Hood was the son of a box manufacturer in an affluent Baptist family.[1] He attended Brown University before studying at MIT School of Architecture, later graduating from the École des Beaux-Arts in 1911. While in Paris, Hood met John Mead Howells, who in 1922 would select him as a partner for the design of the Chicago Tribune Tower. The team would beat out many more avant-garde entries by the likes of Walter Gropius, Adolf Loos, and Eliel Saarinen, with their own Neo-Gothic edifice that mimicked the Butter Tower of Rouen Cathedral.

Gothic Construction Techniques Inspire ETH Zurich's Lightweight Concrete Floor Slabs

With the intention of maximizing available space and avoiding steep construction costs, researchers from ETH Zurich’s Department of Architecture have devised a concrete floor slab that with a thickness of a mere 2cm, remains load bearing and simultaneously sustainable. Inspired by the construction of Catalan vaults, this new floor system swaps reinforced steel bars for narrow vertical ribs, thus significantly reducing the weight of construction and ensuring stability to counter uneven distributions on its surface.

As opposed to traditional concrete floors that are evidently flat, these slabs are designed to arch to support major loads, reminiscent of the vaulted ceilings found in Gothic cathedrals. Without the need for steel reinforcing and with less concrete, the production of CO2 is minimized and the resulting 2cm floors are 70% lighter than their typical concrete counterparts.

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Iconic American Buildings Re-Envisioned in the Gothic Revival Style

With its intricate ornamentation and complex ribbed vaulting, Gothic architecture introduced a slenderness and exuberance that was not seen before in medieval Europe. Epitomized by pointed arches, flying buttresses, and tall spires, Gothic structures were easily identifiable as they reached new heights not previously achievable, creating enigmatic interior atmospheres.

Several centuries later, a new appreciation for Victorian-era architecture was reborn in the United States with the Gothic Revival movement most famously depicted by Chicago's Tribune Tower. A series of computer-graphics (CG) renderings done by Angie's List reinterpret some of America's iconic architecture from the 20th century to mirror buildings from the Middle Ages. View the republished content from Angie's List complete with each building's informative descriptions below.

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The Characteristics of 12 Architectural Styles From Antiquity to the Present Day

History has often been taught in a linear way. This way of teaching has often left out grand historical narratives, and focused primarily on the occidental world. 

Gothic Architecture Meets High Fashion in Guo Pei’s Gravity-Defying Dresses

In what has to be one of the most spectacular collisions of high fashion and architecture, fashion designer Guo Pei has tapped into the "immutable" qualities of Gothic buildings with a series of outfits inspired by vaults, spires, flying buttresses, and elaborate window tracery. According to Vogue, the Chinese designer described her work as "a dialogue between the human body and spatial dimension," while Pei's own Facebook post explained her Fall 2018 collection with just a short phrase: "Time flows unhurriedly, while architecture stands immutably."

Many of the designs in Pei's collection seem to have been conceived as architectural structures in themselves, projecting outwards from the body to create striking church-like forms. Converting the rigid stone structures of the Gothic style into fabrics designed to hang from the human body is clearly a challenging technical feat, and proves extremely satisfying for architecture-obsessed onlookers when achieved with the audacity brought to her work by Pei.

"Gothic": Exhibition of Architectural Models

The exhibition "Gothic: The Age of the Great Cathedrals" will begin in Switzerland in December 2017 in the choir of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Fribourg. It will go to the Cathedral of Bern (Berner Münster, Cathedral of Bordeaux and Church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois in Paris. The idea of this project is a journey through the extraordinary saga of these great medieval buildings. This adventure begins with the construction of the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis, the place where Gothic art was born. Throughout the exhibition, the visitors will discover secrets of 17 monuments chosen among the most beautiful, the most emblematic. They will encounter this medieval art movement that has overwhelmed Europe and wished to build always higher, larger and more beautifully!

How a Novel Saved Notre-Dame and Changed Perceptions of Gothic Architecture

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "It’s a Book. It’s a Building. It’s a Behavioral Intervention!"

A few years ago, while visiting, or rather exploring, Notre-Dame, the author of this book found, in an obscure corner of one of the towers, this word carved upon the wall:

'ANÁΓKH

These Greek characters, black with age, and cut deep into the stone with the peculiarities of form and arrangement common to Gothic calligraphy that marked them the work of some hand in the Middle Ages, and above all the sad and mournful meaning which they expressed, forcibly impressed the author.

AD Classics: Red House / William Morris and Philip Webb

In the heart of a suburb just east of London stands an incongruous red brick villa. With its pointed arched window frames and towering chimneys, the house was designed to appear  like a relic of the Middle Ages. In reality, its vintage dates to the 1860’s. This is Red House, the Arts and Crafts home of artist William Morris and his family. Built as a rebuttal to an increasingly industrialized age, Red House’s message has been both diminished by the passage of time and, over the course of the centuries, been cast in greater relief against its context.

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5 Fun Easter Eggs Hidden in Gothic Architecture

This article was originally published on Atlas Obscura as "Five Architectural Easter Eggs Hiding on Gothic Cathedrals."

The modern use of the term “easter egg”—not the holiday treat but rather a hidden joke or surprise item inserted in a piece of media—originated with Atari in 1979, when a developer snuck his name into a game hoping to get some recognition as the creator. But these surprise treats, hidden to all but those who look closely enough, aren’t only lurking in the digital world. Some of the best easter eggs are snuck into the physical architecture around us.

The excellent thing about architectural easter eggs, be they tongue-in-cheek, carved out of spite, or simply placed as a fun treat awaiting an observant eye, is that they endure in the landscape around us, becoming a sneaky and often confusing part of history. Here are five hidden carvings that dot historic structures with a bit of human nature.

AD Classics: Palais des Papes / Pierre Poisson & Jean de Louvres

While the Roman Catholic Church is synonymous with the Eternal City (and Italian capital), the greatest monument from its medieval heyday actually stands in southern France. The relic of the Papacy’s brief departure from Rome, the Palais des Papes (“Palace of the Popes”) in Avignon is the largest Gothic palace ever built. Constructed in two main phases by two of its residents, the Palais des Papes is a grandiose architectural expression of the wealth and power of the eleven popes who called Avignon their home and base of power.

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AD Classics: Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis / Abbot Suger

The origin of Gothic architecture, a style which defined Europe in the later Middle Ages, can be traced to a single abbey church in the northern suburbs of Paris. The Basilique royale de Saint-Denis (Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis), constructed on the site of an abbey and reliquary established in Carolingian (800-888 CE) times, was partially rebuilt under the administration of Abbot Suger in the early 12th Century; these additions—utilizing a variety of structural and stylistic techniques developed in the construction of Romanesque churches in the preceding centuries—would set medieval architecture on a new course that would carry it through the rest of the epoch.

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AD Classics: Palazzo Santa Sofia / The Ca d’Oro

Sitting on the northern bank of Venice's Grand Canal is a great house whose ornately carved marble facade only hints at its original splendor. The Palazzo Santa Sofia—or the Ca D’Oro (House of Gold), as it is also known—is one of the most notable examples of late Venetian Gothic architecture, which combined the existing threads of Gothic, Moorish, and Byzantine architecture into a unique aesthetic that symbolized the Venetian Republic’s cosmopolitan mercantile empire. Built to serve as the grand residence of wealthy Venetian businessman and politician Marin Contarini, the palazzo has seen a number of owners and renovations over its lifetime before ultimately coming to serve as a museum for medieval painting and sculpture.[1]

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See How a Brooklyn Artist is Creating a Miniature Scale-Model of a Gothic Cathedral from Scratch

Ryan McAmis, an artist from Brooklyn, New York, is designing and building a miniature, scale model of a late Gothic Italian Cathedral, recreating everything from the stained glass windows to the vaulted ceiling, wall tombs and paintings. He first creates the pieces from a variety of materials, ranging from hand scribed brickwork on treated paper, to clay and wood. He then combines the materials together and creates a silicon mold, casting each piece in white plastic to be hand painted later. See more photos and read about his process after the break.

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New Research Proves that Iron Was an Important Medieval Building Material

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 Gothic 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

(Almost) everything you need to know about 20th century design 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-Modernism, 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

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 Gothic 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...