"Flying buttresses" Christchurch Cathedral Tip by Kentbein

Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin: 21 reviews and 20 photos

  Christ church cathedral Flying Buttress
by Kentbein

Favorite thing: Here is an excellent example of the structural component that allowed construction of our tall masonry buildings; the flying buttress.

The walls of tall masonry buildings have to be designed to handle the tremendous outward weight thrusting upon them from the roof. The first way people learned to resolve the structural problem was to design very thick walls.

As the desire to build higher and higher came to play however, they found through disastrous consequences that the walls either had to be extremely thick to carry the roof load, or they had to come up with an alternative design.

It took awhile, but finally someone discovered that the load from above was thrusting in an angled line and could be handled by extending several relief walls perpendicular to the main building, rather than thicken the entire wall. That saved space, material, construction time, and money, and that, no matter which age you live, is ALWAYS good.

Not long after this discovery , they then began to notice that only the outward portion of the abuttment actually carried the load. The portion in the middle of the wall wasn't carrying any load except itself. With the advent of the arch, they learned that portions of a vertical wall could also be removed.

These discoveries led to removing portions of the abuttment, which in turn led to the much more elegant and fanciful design we see today. This structural element is called the flying buttress and is shown here to the left.

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 9, 2004
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