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The Reconstruction of St Paul’s Cathedral

A Phoenix Raised by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren: The Reconstruction of St Paul’s Cathedral, in particular, the West Front Portico
For more than 1400 years, St Paul’s Cathedral dominates the skyline of London. Standing as the largest cathedral in Britain and the fifth largest cathedral in the world, St Paul’s has had a very intriguing history which had undergone a series of invasions, natural disasters and human sabotage overtimes. Although this cathedral has had gone through transformations and modifications during its tough periods, it has sprung back with the support of numerous generations of citizens and became a great treasure in the architectural field. In this essay, I will first carry a brief introduction of the background history during its early period of construction and then examined into Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren’s relation to St Paul’s Cathedral, and to be more specific, I will discuss the west front portico that they produced respectively.
1. Background History
1.1 From 604 to 1087
In 604, Saint Mellitus established the first St Paul’s as the seat of the new bishop. Companied by Saint Augustine, they were on a mission from Rome instigated by Pope Gregory the Great in 597. It is assumed the first Anglo-Saxon cathedral stood onsite, however, this cathedral had a relatively short-lived structure which constantly damaged by flames and attacks from the Vikings during that period. And later on, this “St Paul’s was destroyed by fire in 675 and by the Danes in 961” (Saunders 14).
1.2 From 1087 to 1621
After the previous wooden Saxon church built on the site, the construction of the fourth St Paul’s, which referred to as Old St Paul’s, was begun by the Normans during the reign of William the Conqueror after the 1087 flame. Along the renovation, the taste of architectural style moved gradually from Norman Romanesque-style to the English Gothic style which reflected in pointed arches and the use of clustered pillars as the substitution of heavy columns. The entire cathedral was not consecrated until 1240 since the construction was interrupted due to another fire happened at London Bridge in 1136. The roof was once more rebuilt after a succession of storms in 1255. Another conflagration in 1561 caused by lightning, caught at the spire crashed down through the nave roof of the building.
2. Inigo Jones’s Renovation and His West Front Portico
In 1620, concerned at the decaying state of the building, King James I launched a scheme for the restoration and appointed England’s first classical architect, Inigo Jones, by this time Surveyor of Works, to carry on this project. By the time, Jones just arrived from Europe after learning the ideals of the classical architectural structure. In the 1630s, inspired by the temples that he saw in ancient Rome and the work of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, Jones not only repaired the massive Gothic structure but used various of ancient and modern sources as models for his addition of the Corinthian portico on the façade of the west front. The whole process was interrupted by English Civil War which the Parliamentarian forces “defaced and mistreated the building. Old documents and charters were dispersed and destroyed; the nave was used as a stable for cavalry horses” (Kelly). The great works eventually stopped in 1642, at that time, apart from the central tower, the entire exterior of St Paul’s had been in one sense or another renewed. The choir which built in the 14th century was also “renewed by careful replacement of decayed masonry, including moldings and carved ornaments” (Summerson 55).
The gigantic Corinthian portico at the west front was a new limb of the cathedral. Although it incongruous with the Romanesque nave and transepts on either side of the building, this was still the most remarkable piece of his work at St Paul’s. The work began in the year after Charles I decided to pay for the renovation out of his own revenue. If we can look closely at this classical portico, the engraving showed the symbol of Charles I’s identification with the antique past. Anderson stated that “the difference between this portico and the rest of the church is even signaled in the inscription place on it, which states that Charles paid for the portico’s construction” (193). The façade was featured with two levels that turrets at both sides on the upper level and porticoes at the lower level. On the top of the portico, “frieze of lions’ heads and foliage with plans for a series of statues which some say were to be saints and other kings to be placed along the top” (“Exploring London”). Without a pediment, the portico was featuring with 16 columns in total – ten monolithic Corinthian columns across its breadth, three intercolumniations at both sides of it. The columns have been suggested that stood about 56 feet tall which “structured twice its height Jones took from Palladio’s reconstruction of the temple of Venus and Rome” (Summerson 60). As for the order of the shape and size, Jones based upon the “temple of Antoninus and Faustina, an order which, to the modern eye, is at once the least elaborated and most eloquently profiled of the Corinthian orders of Rome” (Summerson 60). Nevertheless, in contrast, his columns here at St Paul’s were a trifle thicker than those of the Roman temple. Although the cornices are identical, the intercolumniation was astonishingly subtle, and both the frieze and architrave are shallower. And this lacking in gathering effect of a pediment result in the tendency of falling outwards. Jones solved the problem by “giving a pronouncedly greater intercolumniation to the center bay and then to close the ends with a penultimate column standing up against a square pier” (Summerson 61).
Beyond the fact that using portico is one of the most prestigious features in classical architecture, what else can explain the desire of adding portico which was conventionally linked with pagan temples to the churches in Christendom? Why should Jones include portico in the restoration of St Paul’s? If we compare St Peter’s to St Paul’s, it was not hard to find that both were featured with ten columns in the front and this was unlikely to be a coincidence. In this case, the desire to exceed St Peter’s must have been one driving force. “The English gained particular satisfaction in achieving the portico that the Romans had failed to build at the St Peter’s” (Worsley 132). Former apprentice John Webb wrote that this magnificent portico “contracted the Envy of all Christendom upon our Nation, for a Piece of Architecture, not to be paralleled in the last Ages of the World.” (23).
By 1642, the scaffolding was placed inside the cathedral for the reconstruction of the interior and the tower. However, war broke out between King Charles I and his Parliament. Since then, the cathedral was never put into use. “Timber was sold off to supply arrears of pay to the Parliamentary army, and the great building was turned into a cavalry barracks – at one point, 800 horses were stabled there. Booth and shops were built against the portico; the colonnade which had been a source of pride to king, bishop, and architecture became a place for sordid hucksters” (Saunders 27).
3. The Great Fire in 1666 and Christopher Wren’s Reconstruction
Today, if one of Europe’s great Cathedrals were to burn down, there is no doubt drawing together a team of specialist around the world to rebuild it to a facsimile of its initial form. However, it was not so in the 17th century of England after the Great Fire in England destroyed four-fifths of the Medieval City including St Paul’s at its heart. “The Great Fire took place on Monday 27 August 1666 in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane, and by Tuesday afternoon the cathedral itself was threatened” (Campbell 22). Six days after the fire, Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor General to the Crown, was given the mission of rebuilding London and St Paul’s. At that time, as a brilliant mathematician and an Astronomy Professor, his design had always following a perfect geometrically order. The essential feature of his renovation was the creation of the great dome and the redesigned the portico on the west front when he noticed that the stone of the portico designed by Inigo Jones “was in danger of collapse and utterly beyond repair” (Campbell 24).
Around 1685, Wren had engaged in renovating the west front portico. The two-tier portico was featured with Ionic portico on each level. On the upper level, 4 pairs of columns around the windows supported a pedimented on the top “with bird’s carving of the Conversion of St Paul’s on the road to Damascus” (Saunders 114), providing a view for the “screen walls”. On the church-floor level, the portico columns are raised 71 ft high above a pedestal. While the lower level differentiated themselves in order to emphasize the strength, they still continued the subject of the outer walls. In order to create a visual indication of thickness, the ground level windows were smaller and deeply recessed than those of the side walls. The remarkable feature here is that “the lower storey extends to the full width of the aisles, while the upper section defines the nave that lies behind it” (“Stpauls”). Since this novel portico is lack of an obvious antique precedent, Wren himself replicated a natural prototype. His prototype was the shade provided around trees, and that “when the temples were brought into cities, stone pillars represented the trees” (Hart 6). Although Wren imagined these trees as the origin porticoes, St Paul’s portico suggested that these trees were “not equally growing’ in the space” (Hart 6). Wren even imitated the proportions order of trees, for “at first the columns were six diameters in height; when the limitation of groves was forgotten, the diameters were advanced to seven; then to eight; then to nine, as in the Lonick Order; then, at last, to ten, as in the Corinthian and Italic Orders” (Hart 6).
Wren’s study was limited to the Renaissance that studied alongside the architecture of Inigo Jones and Baroque style he saw in Paris, however, he played a critical role in the shaping “the early sciences represented by the founding of the Royal Society which, in following the principles of Francis Bacon, was dedicated to enquiry into natural phenomena through observation and not received tradition” (Hart 4). His education highlighted the “shift in priority from a knowledge and geometry as the guarantor of architectural practice” (Hart 5). Under his concept, the mathematical science, the using of materials, and the science of structural system were more important than the art that the architecture present – “‘a fine Design will fail’, the first criterion of design shouldn’t be the appearance, but the intrinsic structural quality and geometric purity of the building” (10 Hart). As a geometrician, he deemed firmness and the structural integrity as the principles based on statics. When he discussed the roof of the Old St Paul’s he said: “the Roof is, and ever was, too heavy for its Butment” (Hart10). He emphasized later that his new design would shift from the practice of Renaissance architects to those based on geometry which took into consideration the safety issue.
Wren himself believed that “his own St Paul’s owed much in its initial stages to the remodeling of its precursor is well known” (61 Summerson 1990). Nine years of planning plus another thirty-five years of delivering, the present St Paul’s Cathedral designed by Wren not only fulfilled the needs but stood as a symbol for the England Church, the renovated city, and the emerging empire.
4. Conclusion
As two great savers of St Paul’s Cathedral in the history, Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren rebuilt the cathedral under different concepts. Inigo Jones, as the father of classical architecture, influenced on a number of architects after his time. As for the reconstruction of St Paul’s Cathedral, he brought his understanding of the ancient temples to the creation of the west front portico. Jones’s theory of design was strictly rational since Jones was a Platonist, who believed that “architecture should embody perfect geometrical or numerical forms to reflect the harmonious structure of the cosmos” (Higgott 1). As for Wren, since he had a thorough understanding of geometric proportion and professional in mathematics, he designed the building with its new feature based on the principles of architecture. “Unlike several of his colleagues, who regarded it as a set of rules and formulas for design, he had acquired, understood, and exploited the necessary combination of reason and intuition, experience and imagination” (Hart 17). He learned from Inigo Jones’s classical portico to that extent, adding with his own understanding of the “beauty” and presented the public a well-rounded front. Both of them were in favor of the mathematical relation of the structure and believed in the universal efficacy of number. Thanks to both of their dedication, we can see the great cathedral and having a sense of the classical and Baroque beauty on an original Gothic building.
Works Cited
Anderson, Christy. Inigo Jones And the Classical Tradition. Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 183-196.
Campbell, James, Building St Paul’s. London: Thames

Concepts of Materiality and Aesthetics in Architecture

One of the problems contended by the author of the book Materiality and Architecture revolves around materiality aesthetics. Materiality or materials used in architecture for the purposes of erecting structures have undergone a lot of developments and enhancements, thanks to the changes in technology that is cutting across the board2. Technological advancements and changes have not left the field of architecture behind leading to the introduction of not only new ways of designing and construction but also a lot of improvements when it comes to the building materials. The nature and placement of a material on a building have been made to be perceived as the element of its aesthetics[1]. While some people perceive aesthetics to be the manner in which the materials have been used in a building and the kind of modifications they have been taken through to get to the final observed nature, aesthetics in the ancient times was about using a material in its natural form on a building without introduction of foreign or dissimilar substances onto it2.
The aesthetics of a building should be visible beyond the standing structure and its façade and confined within the edges and walls of a building and its roof. Human art played a fundamental role in the ancient times when it comes to achieving the aesthetics of a building3. This was mainly attained through creative art that was meant to embody the various social norms and beliefs of a community into a building, making the building appear to sprout from the society and hence attaining a long lasting aesthetic value as long as the building stands3. However, this has turned out not to be the case anymore, especially with the introduction of digital fabrication. Not so much attention if any if given to the capability of human art in enhancing the aesthetics of a building. Instead, computers and computer-aided software have massively been used in the manipulation of the materials of a building, combining various materials in an attempt to achieve the ancient aesthetics[2]
The author in one of the presentations of the book attempts to address the issue of aesthetics of building as an issue beyond the modernist white cube. With the introduction of modernism, the concept of function follows form tends to be dominant in most of the designs which are mainly revolving around the combination of numerous building materials in a building with an assumption that this would attain the desired aesthetic values5. Aesthetics is basically the outcome of a certain architectural approach as opposed to attempting to mount a new concept on an already existing building.
Advanced innovations have opened up a tremendous cluster of conceivable outcomes as for building plan and manufacture[3]. Designers must be vigilant, be that as it may, of not just the potential outcomes yet, in addition, the constraints inalienable in computerized manufacture strategies, especially the proceeded with the requirement for experimentation and art as basic parts of the development procedure. We have a tendency to expand the exactness of computerized creation to all parts of structures that fuse these innovations and overlook that, in any event until further notice, the building procedure is as yet subject to the caprices of climate, human mistake, and site conditions6.
Imperative connections that keep on existing what’s more, subsequently ought to be recognized and comprehended by modelers incorporate how carefully composed structures are converted into material segments, how computerized data can be conveyed, how establishment techniques ought to be resolved, and how unpredicted changes can be obliged7. The more planners can foresee these components and incorporate them with their outlines and determinations, the more easily and viable the last task can be figured it out[4].
The capacity to transmit numeric information from a three-dimensional PC model to manufacture hardware permits structures of for all intents and purposes boundless many-sided quality to be completely figured it out8. In any case, a 3D configuration show isn’t sufficient to deliver real building components[5]. One peril of the obvious simplicity of computerized creation is that it gives modelers the plausibility of getting to be unadulterated shape producers without thought of the complexities of materiality7. The absence of thought of the truth that the lines of the plan-model would, at last, speak to genuine material with genuine measurements and properties drove, on account of the Zlote Tarasy rooftop, to false impressions that caused delays, extra expenses, and perhaps reinterpretations of outline plan.
The undulating type of the Zlote Tarasy rooftop was at first created by hanging a virtual “fabric” more than eleven circles to make an undulating, unpredictable surface in 3D Studio. The creators compared the type of the rooftop in the mix with its expanding “tree” segments to a woods covering that would “consolidate nature with retail and amusement” and reproduce the atmosphere of an outer mall in a completely atmosphere controlled condition 8.
While its frame was being produced by the architects, the rooftop was spoken to exclusively as a set of lines without measurement. Whenever the three-dimensional model was assumed control by the undertaking’s basic outline builds, the just criteria given by the draftsmen was that the net keeps up its unique design as nearly as would be prudent and that the surface is ceaseless, without development joints[6]. As a consequence of dialogs amid plan improvement, it was resolved that the rooftop would be a net of steel individuals that went about as a solitary basic component, permitting development just where the steel net met the solid structure of the encompassing structures. In a request to figure the powers in the different individuals, the lines of the outline show needed to be converted into dimensional steel13.
Were the lines in 3D Studio the joints between glass boards? Or on the other hand the centerlines of the steel individuals? Or on the other hand the centerlines of the base or top surfaces of the steel individuals? 14 At last, as the plan of the coating framework had not yet been considered and along these lines couldn’t be given measurement and as the auxiliary engineers were essentially worried about the steel segments, they chose that the lines in the model would speak to the centerlines of the steel individuals10.
A three-dimensional model of the rooftop was at that point built and basic plan figuring continued likewise. It was confirmed that the rooftop would be comprised of rectangular steel segments 50 mm wide by 100 mm high[7]. Now, the structural architects ended up worried that the translation of their model as speaking to the centreline of the steel individuals would lead to a contortion in the geometry of the net16. They had thought of the net as the portrayal of the visual nature of the rooftop at the point when seen from the outside (or the inside, contingent upon the view being considered) and in this way the lines would be the joints between glass boards. It was impractical, be that as it may, to update the model to speak to this in light of the fact that the coating framework had not yet been composed and the thickness of the glass and its help framework were obscure[8].
The model was hence reconsidered with the goal that the lines of the unique 3D Studio net spoke to the centerlines of the highest point of the steel individuals. This essentially affected the basic figuring and required their total modification. Had the plan planners considered their plan as a material thing with measurement instead of only a unique shape made of lines, much disarray could have been wiped out? [9]
The substances of the manners by which components are created utilizing computerized strategies likewise require reconsidering of development documentation and development organization, especially the submittal and survey of manufacture and establishment records. The Zlote Tarasy contracts necessitated that all basic counts and shop illustrations were to be audited by the plan engineers and official engineers[10]. In a pre-advanced task, sets of records demonstrating the nitty gritty designing, material characteristics, and measurements of each sort of part would have been submitted for survey and remark and in the end, closed down for endorsement. At Zlote Tarasy, every single one of the roughly 10,000 steel segments had closes that were dimensionally one of a kind, each associating hub was geometrically interesting, and every component had an interesting mix of powers[11]. To pass on this data in the customary documentation would have required countless illustrations and in any event the same number of pages of figures.
To get ready and process this sort of documentation would have required untold reams of paper and long stretches of audit time. Besides, such reports would not be utilized in the genuine manufacture process in light of the fact that the information contained in the designing model could be specifically transmitted to the creation gear14. Therefore, the survey of contractual workers’ records moved to a survey of techniques, electronic correlations of computations, and various quality controls put set up amid both creation and establishment. This procedure exhibited a few favorable circumstances. For instance, the time before spent investigating shop illustrations could be diminished to a base by restricting such audit to strategy proclamations depicting manufacture what’s more, establishment forms and an insignificant number of illustrations required for development coordination15.
Besides, the creation of these archives by the temporary workers required intensive thought of their development techniques and point by point coordination with subcontractors to guarantee that all proposed techniques were in actuality attainable before the beginning of development[12]. Since the audit procedure contrasted from the prerequisites of the agreement archives, the details must be altered to mirror the amended procedure. As computerized manufacture turns out to be more ordinary, these adjustments in audit prerequisites will without a doubt turn out to be more pervasive and mid-venturer legally binding changes less continuous[13].
Quality Control

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