Gothic Structure and Design: Narbonne Cathedral

by Vivian Paul, Texas A&M Univ, College Station, United States,
Robert Warden, Texas A&M Univ, College Station, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Structures Congress XII


Viollet le Duc considered Narbonne Cathedral to be one of the best constructed Gothic buildings in France. The ambulatory piers are single courses of stone bonded into adjacent walls. Stones at critical junctures were cut without joints to prevent water penetration. The building was leveled at the stage of the buttressing; terrace pavers were cut with a lip to provide a level surface for butters piers. Walls are two thicknesses of interlocking masonry blocks. 'Overvaulting' was used to stabilize the transverse arches of the vaults. The Medieval masters of Narbonne claimed the crenelated buttresses towers were supports for the vaults, not fortifications. Preliminary structural analysis indicates they were correct, that the building would collapse toward the north, and that the structurally motivated decision to continue the core of the main arcade piers through the triforium was not entirely successful.

Subject Headings: Religious buildings | Building design | Structural analysis | Piers | Structural design | Masonry | Walls | France | Europe

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