Romanesque Construction Essay

  • Length: 13 pages
  • Sources: 13
  • Subject: Architecture
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #12545741

Excerpt from Essay :

The advantages in efficiency were evident, as are the ways of apprenticing younger members slowly into the family trade.

The more probable model is that the skilled labour was taken from the guilds, whose power was on the rise throughout Europe after AD 1100. Artistic and trade guilds selected their members. Such pooled labour provided training, experience, a career trajectory, and security for the craftsman, who could eventually work through the stage of journeyman to master craftsman. This system allowed for the concentration of skilled labour and guaranteed quality controls. Non-members were excluded from building projects. It was an early form of labour union. At times these guilds had a monopoly on trade labour. Out of some system like this it is likely that the labour came to work on buildings like Pisa Cathedral. The master builders themselves would have been influenced by knowledge generated in the intellectual revival at the universities. The Catholic Church was their principal patron. Pisa Cathedral was built over time by a number of master architects, including Buscheto, Diotisalvi, and Pisano, although not much is known about their experience or management techniques.

The Romanesque master builders integrated structural advances in technology into their architecture to facilitate larger and taller buildings with new features and decorative styling. For example, the arch was utilized in a new form. The semi-circular arch, which evolved into the Gothic style, was the first major development in building techniques since the Roman Empire. This structure of arch increased building strength and load-bearing capability. The stone vault ceiling and buttress were also used on a wider scale. Likewise, the use of symmetrical planning and ratio in design established a keen application of mathematical knowledge to building technology (Fletcher).

During this time trade guilds were formed by skilled tradesmen, including leather goods makers, furniture makers, and blacksmiths. These guilds which were precursors to labour unions, organized the specialized labour that was necessary for society to stay in operation. Characteristically the craftsmen worked out of their shops, which were positioned in or next to their homes (History of Organization of Work). The guild system reached a mature state in Germany circa 1300 and held on in the German cities into the 19th Century. By the 15th Century, Hamburg had one hundred guilds in operation. The latest guilds to develop in Western Europe were the gremios of Spain (Burton and Marique). These guilds shaped labor, production and trade. It was often seen that many industries developed specialized guilds. The appearance of the European guilds was thought to be tied to the emergent money economy, and to urbanization. Prior to this it was not possible to run a money-driven organization, as commodity money was the usual way of doing business during this time (Braudel).

Founders of guilds were normally free, independent master craftsmen and it was only these select few who were allowed to become full members. It was only after a period of apprenticeship and journeying that artisans join a guild (Guild). Apprentices would typically not learn more than the most fundamental techniques until they were thought to be able to keep the guilds secrets. This system of apprenticeship first developed in the later Middle Ages and came to be governed by craft guilds and town governments.

There were some cities that did not use guilds and were deemed free. The pooling of labour in the trades made the guilds a very powerful force. Part of the notion was job security, so that out of the guilds developed the idea of lifetime progression within a particular trade or craft. The progression was from apprentice through journeyman to master craftsman, just as it is today. The trouble with a guild was that non-members were excluded from the trade. There were historical cases of struggle between greater guilds and the lesser artisan guilds. What is noteworthy is that in the places where the guilds functioned they held a monopoly on trade in that particular craft. Additionally, master builders often apprenticed their sons and grandsons to their projects, allowing for continuity and a sort of family craft to carry on.

The Romanesque master builders often integrated structural advances in technology into their architecture in order to facilitate larger and taller buildings with new features and decorative styling. For example, the arch was utilized in a new form. The stone vault ceiling and buttress were also employed on a wider scale. Similarly, the utilization of symmetrical planning and ratio in design confirmed a keen application of mathematical knowledge to building technology (Fletcher). The master builders took into account interior factors as well when developing plans. Concepts of the utilization of space were changed (Carlsson 91 -- 114). Interior planning utilised mathematics, knowledge of materials, and specialized tools in order to create personal living spaces inside fortified buildings.

This led to a new idea in the design of comfort that forced master builders to think about technical issues such as indoor plumbing, water, and insulation from heat and cold. Objects and architectural features frequently had both functional and aesthetic value together. During the Crusades, the use of Middle Eastern rugs became very stylish. At first they were used for decorative purposes rather than to cover floors. The stone walls began to be plastered in order to insulate them against both heat and cold, which in turn made possible the painting of frescoes for decoration (Erlich 85 -- 93). Aesthetically, the master builders utilised enamel and ivory work, as well as detailed bronze and gold sculptures, as stylish adornments. Stained glass and embroidery were extensive and detailed (Toman). The Normans builders also hung their walls with tapestries. These utilities mitigated to some degree the frequently harsh, dark, and heavy stone appearance of the Romanesque period.

The length of time that was required to complete the grand Romanesque cathedrals gives some indication of how enormous these projects were. Frequently they took generations to build, exceeding by a lot of years the time it took to finish the Roman projects. The techniques were massive as well, exceeding those used in several hundred prior years. The builders used large-scale machinery alongside human capital and material resources (Sacred Destinations). Due to the prolonged existence of the construction process and advances that were made in architectural techniques, there were recurrent additions to the original plans. These design changes resulted in a mixed look within the structure (Conant). Generally the Romanesque period was important in introducing a heavy and bulky construction style of building into Western architecture that included the semi-circular arch while retaining ties with the past.


6. Conclusion

The Gothic style was heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic tradition. Its decorative structures were pedagogical, telling stories from the Bible for absorption by the illiterate populace. This was a clear cultural aim of Gothic builders. The trade guilds continued during this period and helped bring their members to literacy and higher standards of record keeping. There was in addition a new cultural emphasis on the human form and condition. Gothic architecture implemented this cultural emphasis in the way its designs and statues portrayed the body. It signified the beginnings of artistic secularisation, thus heralding well in advance the Baroque and Industrial Revolution with their complete rejection of Christian architecture (Punter). Christian rationalists like Oresme, who investigated nature, helped further pave the ground for this later transformation.

The transition from Romanesque to Gothic period is not marked by an unambiguous event or change; rather, it was a gradual progression. Gothic figures slowly became more animated and precise in relation to backgrounds or scenery. As with the Romanesque, the Gothic kept the predominance of religious subject matter in its sculptural, painted, and glass expressions. In architecture, the Gothic style continued the Romanesque challenge of building larger cathedrals (Gothic Art). However, its emphasis was different. The Gothic Period was typified by "vast space and lots of light to create an impression of reverence" (Branner 327 -- 33). This contrasted with the dark, bulky, and gloomy Romanesque churches.

Culture was also significant for Gothic building since it insisted on height and light-filled interiors. The aim was to increase the splendour to provoke religious reverence and awe within the sanctuary of the cathedral. While some of this came from the cultural power of the church, another reason for this emphasis came from city economics. With a more impressive structure, more pilgrims and tourists would come to the city. That meant that the merchants would grow wealthier. As a result, merchants started sponsoring church building. This fostered competition among towns to build the most attractive tall and light-filled churches. Thus, besides being the centre of town social networks, these structures brought in revenue. The cultural influence on architecture is evident here. As a result of striving for light, Gothic builders were forced to use new methods and technologies to achieve the necessary height and openness.

The pointed arch engineering that had been mastered first…

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