World Architecture (300 AD-600 AD)

…Throughout the time, Roman Empire became weak in terms of military and dominancy on the region. Christian religion was spread quickly as well. Political and military structures of Romans began to disappear.

Christian structures’ initial point was underground catacomb cemeteries for ritual meeting purposes because of pressure of the state. Interiors, brimming with mosaics, paintings, marbled colonnades show signs of accomplished design skills of Christian designers.Frequent procession and ceremonies inside Christian churches encouraged an introspective approach to design. Roman emperor Constantine accepted Christianity as official religion of the state, and the situation affected architecture. Early Christian basillicas constituted the final works achieved with classical traditions of ancient Roman Architecture. Although senatorial class lost its political authority, church took the place of the emperors as the prime source of patronage. At this time,  old Roman monumental buildings were converted to Christian monumental buildings. Basillicas were reconstructed as churches. At this time, usage of domes, semidomes is improved, and together with Constantine changed the capital city to New Rome (Constantinople), domes of subsequent Byzantine churches became the symbol of Christianity, also hippodrome,palatine church triumphal plazas and imperial mausoleum expressed state’s Christian identity. Extraordinary vaulted space advanced the design of churches to became full-fledged monumental figures. There were three major church types; the aisled basillica, the central-plan memorial church, the pavilion-like baptistery. It’s really curious that how Romans developed their magnificent buildings in terms of scale, technique, and decoration through developing the concept of dome at the Byzantine era, especially in Hagia Sophia example. I’m mentioning that because Romans were using the strength of materials which was combined with their arch and vault technique, and achieved greater scales in buildings. In Hagia Sophia case, they were able to improve scale even more in the buildings, and create new concepts for buildings. Concept of Hagia Sophia was nesting a domed central space into a larger orthogonal figure. Greater continious span than the diameter of the Pantheon is provided by combining two semidomes. The dome, cupped shapes, buttresses created a complex form like a mountain range, and it had no real facade which gaves the first impression of a great bulging mass. Unlikely to Pantheon, nave dome of Hagia Sophia looks like its floating in the air. In Pantheon case, dome’s function is more likely enclosing the space because usage of semidomes differentiate the perception of experience, I guess.



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