The history of Notre-Dame in Paris is well understood thanks to the work of scholars using documentary and archaeological evidence, but the overall logic of the cathedral’s evolving design has received surprisingly little systematic attention. To provide a complementary perspective on Notre-Dame’s development, Robert Bork applies geometrical analysis to precise laser scans of the building’s fabric. In The Design Geometry of Notre-Dame in Paris he argues that the original designer developed a master plan for the whole cathedral, based largely on the geometry of equilateral triangles. Subsequent modifications to this scheme evidently involved increasing the vault height and flying buttress steepness in the choir and subtly altering the proportions of the nave and façade, but the original design continued to be respected in its broad outlines. This analysis thus sheds new light on the tension between innovation and conformity that characterized work on Notre-Dame in the first century of its history.

You do not currently have access to this content.