The Pointed Arch
The Acute Gable
We can think of the Gothic ceiling itself really as a gable with curved sides as an arch is truly a continuous curve and can't actually be "pointed". The Gothic ceiling does not serve as the external roof of the structure as occasionally might occur in the domed roofs of the Romanesque. What distinguishes the Gothic gable however, it that the angle declining from its ridge is nearly always acute and severely acute in its best examples. In its natural home of the Northern climates this acute pitch of the roof serves the practical function of preventing heavy snow accumulation. So in a summary to this point we can identify the form of the Gothic roofing system as an acute gabled roof surmounted above a pointed arch or "curved gable".
|Notre-Dame de Paris|
|Bishop's Eye, Lincoln Cathedral|
In my previous post I had affirmed that Gothic architecture might very well be the most humanistic architecture ever conceived. I would point to the principal means of support, the system of columns to uphold this contention. Like the pointed arch the clustered column allows for a myriad of adaptations whereas the single shafts of the Classical orders (admittedly of anthropological origins and humanistic themselves) establish whilst constraining the proportional variations possible in the resultant architecture of which Ruskin provides the following critique, "we must no more expect to derive either pleasure or profit from an architecture...whose pillars are of one proportion, than we should out of a universe in which the clouds were all of one shape, and the trees all of one size."
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Contributed by Patrick Webb