Tracing the Past - medieval vaults
Professors A. Buchanan et N. Webb has managed to set up a research team at the University of Liverpool to explore and understand the geometry of medieval vaults in the UK.
"It aims to use contemporary digital techniques to investigate the design and construction of vaults in England during the Middle Ages. Starting in 2015, the project has focused on fourteen case studies from across the UK, featuring a wide variety of vault designs. "
" Digital surveys of each site are conducted using terrestrial laser scanning, allowing us to generate highly accurate 3D models of the vaults. By analysing the geometry of these models, we attempt to understand the technical processes through which these historic works of architecture were designed and built by medieval masons."
The results of their survey is amazing as they corroborate the principles of the practical geometry we have presented in that website.
The similarities between our approaches are very strong and clear:
the use of the "star cut diagram", the inner structure of the initial square divided into the A's of Charlemagne;
the use of the system of proportion given by that structure to set out the main lines of the drawing ;
the use of modular units, etc.
The web pages devoted to plans, ribs, and design process are so relevant, precise, and convincing!
The site is also rich with an innovative technological approach in terms of measurements, surveys, and 3D restitutions!... At least thirteen cathedrals have been studied in depth, with method and critical accuracy. All these studies are decisive and represent a major turning point in the understanding of the aesthetic universe of the Middle Ages.
"Medieval churches are one of the most remarkable creative and technical achievements in architectural history. The complex vaults spanning their vast interiors have fascinated both visitors and worshippers alike for over 900 years, prompting many to ask: ‘How did they do that?’ Yet very few original texts or drawings survive to explain the processes behind their design or construction.
This book presents a ground-breaking new approach for analysing medieval vaulting using advanced digital technologies. Focusing on the intricately patterned rib vaulting of thirteenth and fourteenth century England, the authors re-examine a series of key sites within the history of Romanesque and Gothic Architecture, using extensive digital surveys to examine the geometries of the vaults and provide new insights into the design and construction practices of medieval masons. (...)"