Medieval Engineering

Take some design inspiration, or swoon at the extravagant designs.

We find the idea of force dominating the middle ages. The medieval engineers invented the domes as their new system of roofing over large spaces. The arts of stone carving and glass painting were perfect with the sole aim of enriching their structures. The medieval engineers showed better understanding of the mechanics of construction than the Romans. Having discovered the pointed arch, they knew how to buttress the walls against the outward thrust of their towering Gothic vaults. The Golhic structural system was based upon a thorough knowledge of engineering principles in general and their application to masonry practice in particular. As a consequence, a living force animated their structures which, during Egyptian, Greek and Roman era, had been kept together by their dead weight. Out of medieval structure. emerged the important suggestion of skeleton framing, which reappeared as a principle of building technique, which we find today in the practice of modern architecture.

The next period was that of the Renaissance, which though not contributing to any new system of construction, was a period of variation and improvement upon past performances. With the dawn of the nineteenth century, we find the industrial era, calling for new structural facilities. Factory buildings, warehouses and railway stations, requiring large spaces to be enclosed, had to be constructed. for the industrial revolution. By the introduction of cast iron and later on of rolled steel to meet new needs, the nineteenth century was placed on a plane of equality with the great structural periods of the past. Joseph Paxton, in his crystal palace built in the year 1851, showed how iron framing and sheets of glass could produce a marvel of airy grace and speciousness by the use of factory-produced building components. Through the Swiss Engineer Robert Maillart was found reinforced concrete as a structural material of great elegance and plasticity.