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.
Medieval: The Latest Architecture and News
With its gleaming white walls and elegantly terraced roofs, it is easy to forget that Himeji Castle was built as a fortress . Standing on two hilltops in the city of Himeji, the old fortress, also known as Himeji-jo, is the greatest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture from the early years of the Shogunate, which governed the island nation from the late 1500s to the 19th Century. Although never tested in battle, the castle’s elaborate defensive measures represent the best strategic design the period produced. While these measures have since been rendered obsolete, the same cannot be said for the castle’s soaring, pristine aesthetic, which earned it the nickname Shirasagi-jo – “Castle of the White Heron.”
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.
As long as there have been buildings mankind has sought to construct its way to the heavens. From stone pyramids to steel skyscrapers, successive generations of designers have devised ever more innovative ways to push the vertical boundaries of architecture. Whether stone or steel, however, each attempt to reach unprecedented heights has represented a vast undertaking in terms of both materials and labor – and the more complex the project, the greater the chance for things to go awry.
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.
As the heart of Imperial China from 1421 until 1912, the Forbidden City—a palatial complex in the center of Beijing—represented the divine authority of the Emperors of China for over five hundred years. Built by the Ming Emperor Zhu Di as the centerpiece of his ideal capital city, the palace would host twenty-four different emperors and two dynasties over the course of its history. Even after the subsequent democratic and communist revolutions that transformed China in the early 20th Century, it remains as the most prominent built relic of a cosmopolitan empire.
Explore the Fascinating Overlap of Architectural Styles Throughout History With "The Piranesi Project"
Driven by an intrigue in the ruination of Roman architecture, Brazilian architect, and photographer Olympio Augusto Ribeiro has undertaken a fascinating comparative analysis of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's architectural etchings and the scenes as they stand today. Travelling to each of the Italian sites brought to life in Piranesi's drawings, Ribeiro has managed to recreate the original angle and shot, eventually compositing them together to create collages which cross time periods.
Piranesi's drawings show different architectural styles side by side, and it was this coexistence that urged Ribeiro to investigate what has changed in Rome and Tivoli since their conception. The project, officially dubbed "Piranesi Project (In search of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Rome, 1720-1778)" took Ribeiro two months to photograph, meticulously recreating the images across Rome, Villa Adriana, and Tivoli.
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.