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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/56

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24
Part I.
HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

it is impossible to prescribe any general rules in such a subject as this, but the following table will explain to a certain extent the ratio of the area to the points of support in sixteen of the principal buildings of

Area. Solids. Ratio
in Decimals.
Nearest
Vulgar Fractions.
Feet. Feet.
Hypostyle Hall, Karnac 94,437 46,538 .496 One-half.
St. Peter's, Rom 227,000 59,308 .261 One-fourth.
Spires Cathedral 56,737 12,076 .216 One-fifth.
Sta. Maria, Florence 84,802 17,056 .201 One-fifth.
Bourges Cathedral 61,590 11,091 .181 One-sixth.
St. Paul's, London 84,311 14,311 .171 One-sixth.
Ste. Geneviève, Paris 60,287 9,269 .154 One-sixth.
Parthenon, Athens 23,140 4,430 .148 One-seventh.
Chartres Cathedral 68,261 8,886 .130 One-eighth.
Salisbury Cathedral 55,853 7,012 .125 One-eighth.
Paris, Notre Dame 64,108 7,852 .122 One-eighth.
Milan Cathedral 108,277 11,601 .107 One-tenth.
Cologne Cathedral 91,464 9,554 .104 One-tenth.
York Cathedral 72,860 7,376 .101 One-tenth.
Temple of Peace 68,000 6,928 .101 One-tenth.
St. Ouen, Rouen 47,107 4,637 .097 One-tenth.

the world.[1] As far as it goes, it tends to prove that the satisfactory architectural effect of a building is nearly in the inverse ratio to the mechanical cleverness displayed in its construction.

At the head of the list stands the Hypostyle Hall, and next to it practically is the Parthenon, which being the only wooden-roofed building in the list, its ratio of support in proportion to the work required is nearly as great as that of the Temple at Karnac. Spires only wants better details to be one of the grandest edifices in Europe, and Bourges, Paris, Chartres, and Salisbury are among the most satisfactory Gothic cathedrals we possess. St. Ouen, notwithstanding all its beauty of detail and design, fails in this one point, and is certainly deficient in solidity. Cologne and Milan would both be very much improved by greater massiveness: at York the lightness of the supports is carried so far that it never can be completed with the vaulted roof originally designed, for the nave at least; and the Temple of Peace is so clever a piece of engineering, that it must always have been a failure as an architectural design.


  1. The numbers in the table must be taken only as approximative, except 2, 4, 6, and 7, which are borrowed from Gwilt's "Public Buildings of London."