Free «Architecture» Essay Sample

Question 1


The Mausoleum of Santa Costanza is considered to be more than just a building. It is also a principal treasure trove from early Roman Christian art. It was created in the 4th century for Costanza. Costanza was a daughter of Emperor Constantine. The Mausoleum was opulently beautified. It was engraved with mosaics from the walls to the ceiling. The striking shapes depicted in the mosaics are scenes of harvesting, vines, peacocks and amphorae. All these features had roots in pagan art. The building had a high efficacy in early Christianity.
The Basilica of Trier is also referred to as Aula Platina. It was the imperial palace of Constantine I. Constantine took over Trier as his place of stay from his father, Constantius I Chlorus. The tiles of the building were designed and crafted by Capio and Adiutex. The Basilica of Trier later became a church. It showcases numerous architectural designs in enormous windows and doors. It provides the feeling of “openness”, and its structure resembles that of ancient original Basilica. The Basilica of Trier played an important role in early Christianity. 

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Liturgical Function

The Mausoleum of Santa Costanza had a memorial function and not a liturgical function. Its symbolic function, as well as its architectural form, was important in shaping the development of the exercise of baptism. The Basilica of Trier, on the other hand, had a liturgical function in early Christianity. It was a double church, the northern church being used by the baptized. The catechumens used the southern church. These were people who were under the instruction of faith.

Symbolic Function

The Santa Costanza was attached to a funeral basilica that was dedicated to St. Agnes. The 19th-century excavations showed that the church was linked to the reference of Liber Pontificalis. This church, created for St. Agnes, was used for baptistery functions. The church had a central plan that became a characterized plan for baptisteries. It also symbolized a martyrium to many Christians at those times. On the other hand, the Basilica of Trier symbolized two things: baptism (northern church) and catechism (southern church).

Spatial Organization

The Mausoleum of Santa Costanza has a circular form. It has an ambulatory that surrounds the central dome. It is decorated with a vast collection of late Roman mosaics. The enormous porphyry sarcophagus of Constance is now the Vatican Museum. It is of great significance to the study of Late Antiquity Art. The Basilica of Trier, in its turn, was adapted to its function as an audience hall in the palace complexes. The building was initially designed as an imperial audience hall.


In conclusion, both the Mausoleum of Santa Constanza and the Basilica of Trier had their own unique efficacy and appropriateness to early Christianity. Both of these structures are masterpieces; they showcase the growth and development of Christianity since the 4th century. The buildings have both similarities and disparities in their architectural design. Their principal common and distinct features can also be evidenced through their liturgical, symbolic and spatial organization.

Question 2


Gothic architecture began in France in 1140. It spread to other regions of Europe in the 12th century and continued to develop till the 16th century. During this period, religious and secular buildings were decorated with sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts and stained glasses. The term “Gothic” was fashioned by Italian Renaissance playwrights. It was a pejorative term used to characterize all arts and architectural designs of the middle ages. Arguably, they were being likened to the creations of Barbarian Goths. 

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The Module of Bay

The Early Gothic building style originated in 1140. As a product of drawing, the French Gothic cathedral featured an adoption of the pointed arch. This structural technique was a transition from the ancient Romanesque architecture. So as to heighten the walls of the building, the builders divided its structural design into four parts. These were triforium, clerestorey, arcade and gallery. The constructors then invented the renowned flying buttresses. The flying buttresses were successfully used in the 13th century in High Gothic art. They included the usage of six ribbed vaults that were referred to as the sexpartite vaults.

The Orthogonality of the Interior Elevation

Gothic architecture introduced a general increase in the Gothic French cathedrals’ lateral volume. It also presented an increment in height that made them attain a mysticism of soaring lines. Reims Cathedral was 135 feet tall: Chartres Cathedral was 130 feet tall; and the Bourges Cathedral’s height was 157 feet. There are two ways that explain how the constructionists created these designs. First, they reinforced the piers. Second, they externalized the support used on the high walls, which was part of the 12th-century functionalism. This was in the form of the flying buttresses that united both the inside and outside of the building in a single whole.

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Villard de Honnecourt References

Villard de Honnecourt’s drawings have been accredited by many artists to this day. Numerous historians of the medieval architecture agree that Villard de Honnecourt was a French master mason in the 13th century. Villard de Honnecourt’s drawings were directly linked to the structural design of the Gothic French cathedral. His drawings can explain the structuring essentials of the elevations of the French Gothic cathedral.  Villard de Honnecourt drew a representation of the structure as how a person may see it in real life. Another building with the Gothic style architectural design he drew was the horologe house.

Through his art, he showed different volumetric stages of the building. Other chapels that used this same style like the French Gothic church were Basilica of St. Denis, the Carolingian church, and Dagobert’s church. Villard de Honnecourt produced working sketches of the Gothic French cathedral. Today, there are 33 sheets of surviving records of Villard de Honnecourt’s work. They are dated to have been created between the 1220s and 1240s. Today, the sheets are well preserved in Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

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In conclusion, the Gothic French cathedral is a phenomenon of Christian history development over the centuries. It can be considered to be a product of drawing due to its outstanding architectural designing. The mastery of its creation can be observed through the complexity of its module of bay, the orthogonality of its interior elevation and the complex vaulting of the buttress. Its designs can be associated with the works of Villard de Honnecourt, a famous architect of the 13th century.

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