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Gothic Architecture is a style of construction that was used to build cathedrals, mosques and churches right from 12th century and a combination of its major characteristics that include; ribbed vaults , flying buttresses, pointed arches gives the architecture very unique and beautiful look. This style was adopted in the European countries like France, Scandinavia and Ireland among others and also emphasized large windows and verticality of the building (Frankl 2000).

Characteristics of Gothic Architecture

Flying buttresses

This is a particular style of buttressing commonly used in the Gothic architecture in the construction of cathedrals with the main purpose being to resist the lateral forces pushing a church wall outwards. The force may be as a result of overhead weight or from wind loading. Construction of buttresses is made in such a way that they are not in contact with the main wall to the ground. This is to spread the lateral forces conveyed across the bridging gap to reinforce the walls against outward pressure exerted by the vaults and to maintain the building together.

Ribbed vaults

These are columns made of stones that are used to support and reinforce the weight of the stone or wooden ceiling and are aligned to produce a diamond shape at the ceiling  (Frankl 2000). The rib also provide a section for the attachment of the buttresses and connects the separate chambers of the house without the use of walls, giving a look of a wider interior that makes the ceiling to be higher. It also allows fixing of more windows and riches in the churches like triforiums in Chartres Cathedral (Frankl 2000).

Pointed Arches

In Gothic architecture, pointed arches are also known as Ogival arch, which are the interconnecting diagonal ribs of arches that form the surface of Gothic vault and joined with the ceiling. The arch provided structural advantages where the semicircular arch visually highlights verticality of the house, and when combined with the ribbed vault, created new possibility for spatial extension and integration as in the case of Durham Cathedral (1093–1133) (Frankl 2000).

In conclusion, Gothic architecture provides very unique architectural style that was admired and emulated by many masons to this age. Its unique characteristics that include ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, pointed arches, gothic ornaments and larger windows made the style be adopted in the construction of cathedrals, churches and mosques.

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