Structural appraisal of the florentine gothic construction system

Ece Erdogmus, Thomas E. Boothby, Elizabeth B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The nave of Santa Maria Novella, a Dominican church in Florence Italy is representative of a Florentine Gothic system of construction. This system, consisting of domical rib vaults on square nave bays, high side aisles, and crypto-buttressing, differs substantially from the French high Gothic system of even-level-crown rib vaults on rectangular bays, with flying buttresses over relatively low aisles. An investigation into the structural aspects of the Florentine Gothic construction system reveals that the domical vaults increase the longitudinal thrust and reduce the transverse thrust, which may require additional precautions to be taken during construction, but entails a less elaborate buttressing system. The domical vaults are found to perform well structurally, with an absence of tensile stresses, and are more suitable for a square bay. In general, the structural system of the nave of Santa Maria Novella is found to be the product of carefully considered structural design, which may be accepted as an alternative to the French Gothic construction system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Architectural Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Building and Construction
  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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