Architecture Theory: Abbot Suger, The Book of Suger, Abbot of St. Denis

Architectural Theory
Volume 1 - An Anthology From Vitruvius to 1870
edited by: Harry Francis Mallgrave
A. Classical and Medieval Traditions
Abbot Suger
The Book of Suger, Abbot of Saint-Denis

• The Basilica of St. Denis located in Saint-Denis, France. This was the first Gothic building. It was enlarged through the addition of: new narthex, bigger choir, and seven radial chapels, double ambulatory, pointed arches, flying buttresses and vaults. The construction began in 1137 and the rededication in 1144, introduced these features and the rose window. These changes transformed the abbey church from a Romanesque building to Gothic.

- The eastern part of the church was built over the existing crypt. They superimposed the new upper columns and median arches with the old ones.

-In the center there are twelve columns representing the twelve apostles. The columns in the ambulatory represent the prophets, while setting the eye up for the expansive size of the church.

-The storm that passed through the town during king Dagobert’s anniversary shook “not only robust houses but also stone towers and timber donjons” (23). The “main arches were not yet connected to the mass of the vaults” of the church, yet through the goodness of God it remained in one piece (23).

picture by: etienne boucher/via: sacred destinations
cruciform floor plan via: cal state

Futher Readings:
Gothic Glossary

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