How Have the Ideas Used in Classical and Gothic Architecture Been Incorporated in to Liverpool’s Modern Architecture

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Greek and Roman architecture is known as Classical architecture. A typical example of a Classical piece of architecture consists of columns and an entablature. These columns have a base, shaft and capital, and are arranged in a neat, very often symmetrical manner. There are five different types of arrangement between columns and entablature. These arrangements are also known as ‘orders’. Each order uses a different design and has different proportions to the others.

The earliest and most massive of the five orders is the Doric. It is bulky and has simple decoration. The columns in this order do not have bases. The shafts are fluted to counteract the optical illusion of concavity, or ‘entasis’. The Romans modified the Doric by adding a base to its columns. The Ionic is more decorative and slender than the Doric. Its columns are fluted with bases and a capital with two volutes. The Corinthian is similar to the Ionic only it has a leaf decoration on the capital and is more slender. It was not used widely by the Greeks, more by the Romans.

The Roman order known as Tuscan is almost as bulky as the Doric. It is the plainest of all orders, with no fluting and very little decoration if any. Its columns have bases. The Composite is another order developed by the Romans. It is a mixture of both the Ionic and the Corinthian. It has the same proportions as the latter though it has volutes and leaf detail on the capital. This order is very elaborate and was mainly used on triumphal arches.

The Corinthian and Ionic orders were seen as the feminine structures because of their delicate and sophisticated look, while the sturdy Doric and Tuscan were considered masculine.

The buildings at the south of Albert Dock are examples of how Modern architecture makes use of the design ideas from the Classical era. They use a lot of symmetry, rounded arches and columns.

The columns used are a cross between those in the Greek Doric and the Roman order Tuscan. They are very plain as they are not fluted. The capital has no decoration and the architrave sits back from the edge of the column. However, these columns do not have bases to them. Where there would usually be an architrave and fascias above the column, there is only one face of brickwork. See appendix 1.

Though parts of these buildings resemble those of the Classical era, they do not use the same materials. Brickwork and mortar have been used instead of stonework, and glazing has been incorporated in to these buildings, which was unheard of in Greek and Roman times. It can be said that the bottom halves of these buildings are similar to those in the ancient world, while the top halves bear little resemblance.

Gothic was the first new style since the ancient world. The main characteristics of Gothic architecture are its pointed arches, ribbed vaults, steeply pitched gables and elaborate traceried window openings. Many of these buildings are cathedrals or churches built in the shape of the cross. They are elaborate, decorative and usually reach a great height. In order for the buildings to achieve these great heights flying buttresses must be installed. These buttresses direct the weight and thrust of the heavy roofs and stone walls down to the ground. They can be concealed in the aisle roof or made visible over the aisles.

The invention of the pointed arch allowed a range of new building expressions to take place. It meant that arches could now spread greater distances, allowing vaults to be taller and wider. The arch could now support a greater weight, which meant that walls could be thinner, and contain wider window openings. This encouraged the use of the very decorative stained glass. Tracery, gargoyles and pinnacles are some of the other decorative elements used.

St Paul’s Church in Derby Lane is an example of how design ideas have been taken from the Gothic era and been incorporated in to Modern architecture. Although this church is not as huge as those in Gothic times, it still has steeply pitched gables and uses pointed arches to allow tall windows. Although these windows are stained, they do not contain symbols and pictures that tell a story as most traditional Gothic churches did. Nor does it display any gargoyles, and although vaults have been used there are very few in comparison. See appendix 2.

As with the buildings in the Albert Dock, St Paul’s Church moves further away from the traditional Gothic design as you move up the building. For example, the windows at the top of the tower are small and not stained glass. Also the arches around the windows are rounded as opposed to pointed on the ground floor of the church.

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