People usually ask, “What is gothic revival architecture?” Gothic revival refers to an architectural movement that began in the 1740s and sought medieval reforms. Its interesting design makes people ask, “What is gothic revival architecture?” therefore popularizing it.
This article shall equip you with the history of the gothic architectural design, its characteristics, and its types. Factors that led to the realization of this architectural design shall also be widely covered.
This article will also give you extensive information about what architects of the olden days did to make people ask, “What is gothic revival architecture?” hundreds of years later. You will learn about these amazing works of art called gothic architectural design from a unique perspective.
History of the gothic revival
The history of the gothic revival style can be traced back to the 18th century but did not make significant traction until the 19th century. By then, its popularity in England had spread to the British empire.
To this day, gothic architecture has made its way through North America. The help of architects like Alexander Jackson Davis gave way to the rise of the American gothic revival style for mansions, country houses, houses of parliament, universities, and public gothic revival buildings.
A notable example is the New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, built using the gothic architectural design. All this started with the question, “What is gothic revival architecture?”
This kind of architecture is also known as neo-gothic architecture and was inspired by churches and other religious structures in the middle ages. This Victorian gothic architectural style is identifiable due to its use of the pointed arch windows, high walls, and other elements from the Victorian gothic design.
The Victorian gothic revival style was invented during the middle ages when architects began to craft churches, synagogues, and palaces like the Palace of Westminster. The style sought to revive medieval forms. The ruins of Victorian gothic architecture began to revive newfound appreciation during the 18th century after being relatively dismissed in the overall history of architecture.
The history of the Victorian gothic revival is deeply rooted in religion to reflect the magnitude of God and the humble nature of humanity because the beauty of this art makes us wonder, “What is gothic revival architecture?”. As an overview of its history, here are the beginnings of gothic culture.
One should note that the term gothic was invented by an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian known as Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574). Giorgio Vasari is responsible for influencing some of the best painters, sculptors, and architects today and is considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.
Gothic architecture got its name from Giorgio Vasari, who mentioned the style in his writings. Gothic structures were initially called the French style. The name changed in the 1530s due to Giorgio’s teachings in the middle ages that made students think to themselves, “What is gothic revival architecture?”
The gothic name is thought to have been coined by the Italian writers of the renaissance period who attributed the invention of medieval architecture to the Barbarian Gothic tribes. These tribes had destroyed the roman empire and its classical culture in the 5th century.
The French beginnings
France holds a significant role in the revival of gothic culture. The first building credited to the Gothic revival architecture was the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis in France, built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
This first model of Victorian gothic structures had notable features that included massive arches, stained glass windows, and elaborate floor plans. These features supported exceptionally tall places of worship that would become churches and temples, and secular structures like fortresses and palaces like the Palace of Westminster.
Victorian Gothic styles had fallen out of favor during the famous renaissance. Architects in this period regarded this architectural design as barbaric and dubbed them Gothic as a reference to the German goth tribes.
The first gothic revival homes
The first gothic revival homes consisted of American gothic architecture imported from the United Kingdom in the 18th century by an English politician and writer, Sir Horace Walpole. They later decided to redo it in his country home with details inspired by medieval churches and cathedrals after Sir Horace became curious and asked himself, “What is gothic revival architecture?” and subsequently learnt it.
According to historians, Walpole had worked on a strawberry hill house for more than thirty years. During this period, Walpole invented the new genre of fiction, The Gothic Novel, in 1764.
Revival vial Germany
The rise of Romanticism in the 18th century became a major setback in the oncoming industrial revolution and the progress of science. An author, Horace Walpole, who worked at Strawberry Hill, gave elaborate gothic elements an excellent showcase.
Later, an art critic John Ruskin popularized the gothic reforms after asking, “What is gothic revival architecture?” These advancements gave rise to other popular neoclassical styles of architecture, including the Greek revival.
Flourishing of new styles
Due to campaigns carried out during the 18th century, the gothic revival had become very popular amongst the population after people began asking, “What is gothic revival architecture?” The architectural form became a preference for public buildings like the Palace of Westminster, which later became the meeting place for the houses of parliament in England.
During this new gothic revival style, Sir Charles Barry and other architects outfitted the Palace of Westminster with enormous gothic details that included stones, towers, and pointed arches. During the 19th century, this gothic revival style had spread from England to many other parts of the British Empire, including Canada, India, and Australia.
The American gothic
By 1812, the American people had asked, “What is gothic revival architecture?” They then warmly welcomed this style of architecture, with the first gothic public building being the trinity church in the new heaven, Connecticut. From this church, many colleges and universities across America, including Harvard and Yale, adopted the gothic style.
During this period, the gothic revival homes started to become popular due to the works of an architect who was also a writer by the name of Alexander Jackson Davis, and a designer called Andrew Jackson Downing.
What are the characteristics of the Gothic Revival architecture
The gothic architectural style, which came about in the middle of the 12th century and 16th century, had main characteristics that included the use of cavernous spaces. These spaces were created by walls broken by overlaid tracery. This gothic style is deeply rooted in the French culture but can also be found in Europe and other continents.
Below are characteristics of some gothic revival architecture:
The presence of large stained glass windows
Today, you are likely to find glass windows in many worship places. Large stained glass windows were initially installed in Victorian gothic cathedrals, featuring cut-colored glass. To make them appealing, the Victorian gothic architects had to make them either arched and tall or round and were larger than those found in the church today. This ensured that they allowed more light into the building.
They had large clerestory windows used as tracery, decorative stone support, and detailed biblical stories. An excellent modern example is the Palace of Westminster, which hosts the House of Commons. Victorian gothic architects discovered they could do this after asking, “What is gothic revival architecture?”
Presence of pointed arches
This is one of the critical features of this gothic architecture style that makes the gothic structure practical and decorative. The pointed arch provided more support than the formerly used pillars.
This was possible since the arch was designed in a way that it was able to distribute the weight of the bulky walls and heavy ceiling hence preventing the building from collapsing. This gothic arch was a beauty that influenced other gothic designs like the vaulted ceilings.
The pointed arches were the same as the round arches used to build the Romanesque buildings because they incorporated the tall thin pointed gothic style arches commonly found in Islamic architecture. The result is that the cathedral height was increased by facing the arches towards the sky and accommodating the vaulting in a similar shape.
The pointed arches in the neo-gothic style resulted in the barrel vault arches being placed parallel to one another and supporting the rounded roof. The vaulted ceiling used pointed arch technology to spread and distribute the weight from the upper floors.
This allowed ceilings to be taller than before by providing an impression of height and elegance. The vaults could be constructed in different sizes and shapes to ensure that they fully protected the gothic structural building. Architects discovered they could do this after asking, “What is gothic revival architecture?”.
Vaulted ceilings were one of the main features innovated in the Gothic cathedrals that made them easy and possible to build. The vaulted ceilings were both decorative and practical.
The vaults mainly played the role of supporting the weight of the roof and the walls. Combining the vaulted ceiling and pointed arch allowed the cathedral walls to be built thinner and higher and with more space for openings.
Presence of a flying buttress
This gothic architecture feature defines the external characteristics and supports the wall’s weight. The architects ensured that the weight was transferred to the ground by using the fly buttresses. They discovered this after asking, “What is gothic revival architecture?” It was a decorative and elegant aspect of elaborately designed history.
The flying buttress ensured that it gave the gothic building a sense of movement and flight because it seemed to sweep and dart around the building. These flying buttresses were decorated with carvings that ensured a sense of grandness and importance.
The gargoyles of gothic architecture
This was the most notable and classical feature of gothic architecture and ornate decorations. Gargoyles were decorative creatures placed on roofs and in basements of gothic buildings.
The gargoyles on the gothic buildings had significant features that helped them execute some functions. These decorative creatures were designed to drain roof water through their mouths to the ground. They were also used to strike fear in the ill-educated peasants who never asked, “What is gothic revival architecture?”
It also helped get more people into the church despite scaring away the ill-educated. The gargoyles had evil-looking features and threatening poses that were exaggerated, hence tricking many into seeking safety and solace in the church.
Is Gothic Revival the same as neo-gothic
Neo-gothic is also referred to as gothic revival. A revival of the gothic style dates from the 19th century to the early 20th century.
Neo-gothic developed structures are more complex than the gothic revival structures. During the Romanticism movement, there were enlightened people who celebrated science and logic and rejected the anti-science fervor of the middle ages. The reactions made them reminisce of an earlier age that supposedly upheld the same mystical ideas.
Gothic architecture was taken as a symbol of national pride. When nationalism and European chauvinism were on the rise, gothic architecture helped bring people together when they asked, “What is gothic revival architecture?”
How was gothic architecture important?
The popularity of gothic architecture lasted from the 12th century to around the 16th century. These gothic structures had their importance and significance.
The rib, flying buttress, and pointed gothic arch were used as pillars to build a strong and tall structure that allowed as much natural light as possible.
Functions of the stained glass in the gothic architecture
The presence of the stained glass window panes made startling sun-dappled interior effects and prevented the sun from directly lighting the gothic structure.
Despite allowing light into the church or the cathedral, the stained glass had a spiritual function. The colored planes are created by adding various metallic salts and oxides.
When natural light passes through these metallic salts and oxides, they glow brilliantly like jewels hence creating an experience filled with awe and misery. By seeing the importance of light, those glasses carried a spiritual message by the religious symbolism of the time.
The stained glass in a gothic house serves as illustrative tools intended to educate, inspire and make people ask, “What is gothic revival architecture?” Most of the windows in the gothic structures are covered with images of saints. This had an implication that people not only read but also experienced religion on a spiritual level.
What defines Gothic architecture
Place of origin
Gothic architecture is a European style of architecture with its roots in France. The gothic revival architecture exists in churches, cathedrals, and other similar buildings in Europe and beyond.
By asking, “What is gothic revival architecture?”, one can deduce the significance of the gothic structures. Understanding how the place of origin becomes significant to gothic architecture can often get complicated.
In many cases, the gothic revival buildings were defined through their main features, including pointed windows with decorative Tracey. The gothic houses also had chimneys which were grouped in an orderly manner.
The leaded glass on its windows prevented direct light into the cathedral. It also provided a significantly unique ray of light believed to be of religious significance.
Asymmetrical floor plans and oriel windows were among the noticeable features of the gothic houses. The quatrefoil and clover-shaped windows gave the gothic revival building a sparkling look. However, most Romantic adaptations did not replicate the authentic gothic styles but adopted medieval architecture.
What started the Gothic Revival
Standing the test of time is not easy. Several factors contributed to the initiation and continuation of the gothic revival buildings, leading people to ask, “What is gothic revival architecture?” Below are some of the few factors that led to the revival of the gothic revival architecture.
Religion played a vital role in the progress of the gothic revival architecture during the 19th century and 20th centuries. The gothic style was mainly used in building the catholic church. This idea of building the church using the gothic style became common and spread across Europe since, at that time, the gothic style was not only influenced by faith but also by wealth and power.
During the middle ages, bishops were appointed by feudal lords and mostly ruled as virtual princes over large estates. This organization ensured the spread of the gothic revival.
Geographic location in which the gothic revival started played a vital role in the question, “What is gothic revival architecture?” From the 10th to 13th century, Romanesque architecture became a European construction style. This kind of architecture initiated a foundation for the gothic revival.
The proximity of some areas did not define the gothic styles to be adopted, but the idea of building gothic houses was evident. For example, England and Spain produced significant examples of gothic revival buildings rarely seen anywhere, such as the Palace of Westminster in England.
Architect researchers say that one of the defining attributes of the gothic structures is that the pointed arch was incorporated into the Islamic architecture after the Islamic conquest of Roman Syria and the Sassanid empire in the 7th century.
The pointed arch is one of the examples of gothic revival structures that were employed in Roman and Sasanian architecture and is present in the early churches and secular structures in Syria.
Even though pointed arches were employed in the palace, architects used them after their incorporation into the Islamic culture. This feature can be used as a factor contributing to the revival of gothic architecture when citizens asked, “What is gothic revival architecture?”
The famous transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture contributed to the revival of the gothic style. It is believed that the gothic revival architecture rose to prominence when the Romanesque style was at the peak of its popularity and would supplant it for many years.
The inspirational gothic revival took place when the intellectual and political development of the catholic church was growing into a powerful political entity. This entitlement alone led them to ask, “What is gothic revival architecture?” This spearheaded the spread of the gothic revival.
What are the three basic elements of the Gothic style
The gothic style can vary according to location, age, and type of building. The three essential elements of the gothic style include pointed arches, ornate decorations, and large stained glass windows.
How did the gothic culture become part of romanticism?
This is among the frequently asked questions in architecture. Gothic literature has been popular in European circles for a long time, considering that they were civilized earlier. The presence of modern horror movies was made possible due to gothic houses.
The gothic culture developed alongside romanticism. During this period, activities of individuals such as Horace Walpole contributed to the gothic culture; he wrote a novel in 1764 that helped explain gothic architecture.
While gothic literature focused more on horror, trepidation, anxiety, melancholy, and grief, romantic literature focused on emotions like joy, wonder, and amazement. Both were highly invested in the supernatural and nature and the middle ages, making them look almost similar.
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