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English Medieval Architecture: A Model for Design Process Analysis

This project investigates to what degree the physical structure of the extant fabric has a determining effect on the form of the later medieval addition through the development of multi-dimensional dynamic models for a series of case studies. This archaeological information will then be integrated into consideration of issues of contemporary culture such as program, patronage and external stylistic influences to create a holistic study of the design process for each case study. Thus, the project will develop a new mode of analysis through the application of technology to a key question frequently raised in the scholarly literature but never fully addressed. It will also provide a prototype for similar analysis for other medieval sites as well as the architecture of other times and places. It will begin with a case study of Southwell Minster to explore the feasibility and utility of this type of modeling for the study of medieval architecture.

Southwell Minster is typical of many English medieval churches in combining building fabric from a variety of periods. At Southwell, the Norman east end was replaced by Archbishop Walter de Grey of York (1216-55), an ambitious architectural patron who may have sought to increase the prestige of Southwell though the construction of a larger and more up to date east end. Later medieval architecture in England, commonly referred to as Gothic, is usually in the form of a later addition to an earlier Romanesque building. The earlier building may possibly be damaged due to fire; tower collapse or, as at Southwell, the patron may simply have sought an updated appearance for part of the building. Usually this modernization takes place in the east end of the building, its liturgical focus. Elsewhere the Gothic fabric may be the final stage of a prolonged building campaign. While the fact that Gothic architecture in England is chiefly represented by additions to Romanesque buildings is widely acknowledged, the implications of this piece of information for the design process have not been analyzed.

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