Salisbury Cathedral v. the Duomo: Impression
At first glance, these two cathedrals appear to be very different. Florence Cathedral appearing very Romanesque in style, while Salisbury Cathedral appears very medieval of gothic in its style of architecture. This Romanesque style is evident in the use of large stone facades and smaller windows. The reason for this is because the building is held up by its own structural mass, which does not allow for many portions that are not structurally supportive. Salisbury differs from this in that it has lightness and a lesser sense of materiality because the walls are held up by the use of buttresses. The large stone facades of the Duomo are also articulated by painted and carved geometric patterns. Painted surfaces also appear on the interior and front facade. Because of the lack of windows, color was employed by the use of frescoes, which were often gilded to help bounce around the light. These paintings were used as a pictorial bible in order to tell its stories. These are also located in the central dome. Which the dome itself embodies another Roman idea, the idea of a center, or being in the center of God’s presence. Seeming as the light came from windows in the dome, and light represented God’s divine presence this idea was achieved. The Duomo may have been established with the idea of a center, by Salisbury cathedral was based on the idea of a journey. As one move down the nave it is symbolic of ones journey from the time of initiation into the church (life) to end at the alter (death).
The Duomo also tells a story of transition. The Duomo and Salisbury alike use color to tell a story, figures are also carved into the front façade, also seen in Salisbury. This marks the beginning of the movement from mass to dematerialization in religious buildings.
I feel that the Duomo speaks a more “colorful” language because it is a building of the past, but also knows something of the future in that it incorporates certain gothic elements while still maintaining the spirit of the past knowledge of the Roman Empire. I feel that scale does speak to the power of the patron because Salisbury is larger in plan than the Duomo and was built in a rural area, but the height to width ratio of the Duomo is much greater, and it was built in an affluent city.
Salisbury v. Amiens: Town
Salisbury v. Amiens: Town
I think the design features do vary as a result of the town coming first or last. Salisbury cathedral existed before the town. It was away from the bustle of public life so it included a monastery. Because of this there was a greater need for land for the monks to support themselves on. It was also because it was built away from every thing else that Salisbury is built at a smaller scale than Amiens Cathedral. Amiens cathedral also served as a political center and there fore a symbol of power for the town it was built in. It was inherent that they build the most vertical and dematerialized space they could. It was because of this that the flying buttress was created to help to get the largest windows possible. A building makes room for itself in an urban setting oftentimes by being built on the same sight as the old one. This is the case for Amiens cathedral because the old building had been destroyed in a fire. A building makes room for itself in a rural setting by being built on a different than before, or on new land. This was the case for Salisbury cathedral. The old building was in town but was destroyed by a storm so the new one was built two miles away. The challenges of building in an urban setting have to work with the land you have available, but this also creates opportunities for ingenuity such as the flying buttresses in Amiens. The opportunities associated with building in a rural setting are that you are not limited to the amount of land you can build on as long as you can pay for it.
Salisbury v. Cologne: Light
I believe light is the best way to understand the “dark” ages because as a symbol it shows the values of those who lived during the period. Education had been lost to the masses due to the constant pillaging of rival “barbaric” tribes. So light had been shifted from the illumination of the mind to that of the soul. The light shed through the many stained glass windows and over the carved and articulated surfaces of the interiors and exteriors of these buildings was meant to be awe inspiring in that it was supposed to resemble heaven. There was a hope and happiness to be found in the next life. It was because of the illiterate population that carved surfaces transformed the building into a pictorial bible. Thus the light illuminates the physical space but also the hearts and the minds of the congregation. Making light a basic element during the Gothic era.
Roth pgs. 305-351