Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Building in the Name of God


It is difficult to watch the History Channel appeal to the lowest common denominator, to make history "hip" by adding techno beats and fast cuts to all of its shows.

Nevertheless, I endured Building in the Name of God.


  • Hagia Sophia
  • Notre Dame
  • St. Peter's
  • Sagrada Familia
  • Crystal Cathedral


Hagia Sofia:

  • purpose built structures
  • altar / nave / vaults
  • idea of dome 
  • circle upon a square
  • most structurally deformed bldg after tower at pisa\
  • procopius: "Golden Thread"


Notre Dame

  • construct a bldg that would reflect divine power and light
  • ribbed vaults acting like bones of a skeleton
  • mortar - glue that allows flexibility but holds cathedrals together
  • skeletal b/c of flying buttresses


St. Peter's

  • build a new church
  • wonder of the world
  • largest Christian structure
  • tomb of st peter
  • largest cathedral in the world
  • importance of dome


Sagrada Familia

  • scale is insane
  • framework = skelton
  • inside the skeleton of Moby Dick
  • cantenary parabolic arches
  • impossible to design a cathedral on the scale of S.F. if you lack the necessary spiritual and religious inspiration
  • begun by a bookseller
  •  From Wikipedia: Towers

    Every part of the design of La Sagrada Família is replete with Christian symbolism, as Gaudí intended the church to be the "last great sanctuary of Christendom". Its most striking aspect is its spindle-shaped towers. A total of eighteen tall towers are called for, representing in ascending order of height the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ. (According to the 2005 "Works Report" of the temple's official website, drawings signed by Gaudí found recently in the Municipal Archives indicate that the tower of the Virgin was in fact intended by Gaudí to be shorter than those of the evangelists, and this is the design — which the Works Report states is more compatible with the existing foundations — that will be followed. The same source explains the symbolism in terms of Christ being known through the Evangelists.) The Evangelists' towers will be surmounted by sculptures of their traditional symbols: a bull (St Luke), a winged man (St Matthew), an eagle (St John), and a lion (St Mark). The central tower of Jesus Christ is to be surmounted by a giant cross; the tower's total height (170 m) will be one metre less than that of Montjuïc (a hill in Barcelona), as Gaudí believed that his work should not surpass that of God. Lower towers are surmounted by communion hosts with sheaves of wheat and chalices with bunches of grapes, representing the Eucharist.


    The Church will have three grand façades: the Nativity façade to the East, the Glory façade to the South (yet to be completed) and the Passion façade to the West. The Nativity facade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudí influence. The Passion façade is especially striking for its spare, gaunt, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ being flogged and on the crucifix. These controversial designs are the work of Josep Maria Subirachs.


    Tree-like supporting pillars of roof

    The church plan is that of a Latin cross with five aisles. The central nave vaults reach forty-five metres while the side nave vaults reach thirty metres. The transept has three aisles. The columns are on a 7.5 metre grid. However, the columns of the apse, resting on del Villar's foundation, do not adhere to the grid, requiring a section of columns of the ambulatory to transition to the grid thus creating a horseshoe pattern to the layout of those columns. The crossing rests on the four central columns of porphyry supporting a great hyperboloid surrounded by two rings of twelve hyperboloids (currently under construction). The central vault reaches sixty metres. The apse will be capped by a hyperboloid vault reaching seventy-five metres. Gaudí intended that a visitor standing at the main entrance be able to see the vaults of the nave, crossing, and apse, thus the graduated increase in vault loftiness.

    The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudí design. Besides branching to support their load, their ever-changing surfaces are the result of the intersection of various geometric forms. The simplest example is that of a square base evolving into an octagon as the column rises, then a sixteen-sided form, and eventually to a circle. This effect is the result of a three-dimensional intersection of helicoidal columns (for example a square cross-section column twisting clockwise and a similar one twisting counter-clockwise).

    Geometric details

    Alpha and Omega carving at Sagrada Família entrance. 
    Key to the symbolism of the church. 
    The towers on the Nativity façade are crowned with geometrically shaped tops that are reminiscent of Cubism (they were finished around 1930), and the intricate decoration is contemporary to the style of Art Nouveau, but Gaudí's unique style drew primarily from nature, not other artists or architects, and resists categorization. Gaudí used hyperboloid structures in later designs of the Sagrada Família (more obviously after 1914), however there are a few places on the nativity façade—a design not equated with Gaudí's ruled-surface design, where the hyperboloid crops up. For example, all around the scene with the pelican there are numerous examples (including the basket held by one of the figures). There is a hyperboloid adding structural stability to the cypress tree (by connecting it to the bridge). And finally, the "bishop's mitre" spires are capped with hyperboloid structures[3]. In his later designs, ruled surfaces are prominent in the nave's vaults and windows and the surfaces of the Passion facade. Symbolism Themes throughout the decoration include words from the liturgy. The towers are decorated with words such as "Hosanna", "Excelsis", and "Sanctus"; the great doors of the Passion façade reproduce words from the Bible in various languages including Catalan; and the Glory façade is to be decorated with the words from the Apostles' Creed. Areas of the sanctuary will be designated to represent various concepts, such as saints, virtues and sins, and secular concepts such as regions, presumably with decoration to match.

Crystal Cathedral

  • Robert Schuller looks like a reptile: cold blooded, flicking his pink tongue out to smell the prey, talking about money money money money.
  • who truly believes that the aesthetic monstrosity of the Crystal Cathedral deserves to have a place amongst these mountains?

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