~A Better Idea of High Gothic Architecture~
Chartre Cathedral : A Gothic Encyclopaedia
The plan resembles the plans of the Pilgrimage Road churches: a cruciform basilica with transepts, aisles and radiating chapels set about an ambulatory . Here, though , the chevet is bigger and more complex, and the choir is ringed by a double aisle and ampbulatory , as in the chevet of Notre-Dame in Paris.
The interior design seems deceptively simple.The wall elevation has only three storeys : main arcade, triforium, and clerestory. The unusually tall clerestory begins below the level of the springing of the vaults, the point at which they begin to curve. Thus, the clerestory and the main achade are of nearly the same height - large , light areas separated by the windowless triforium. Within each clerestory bay , a large lobed oculus, a circular window with a scalloped edge, surmounts a pair oflancets. Lower down, the main arcade bays are lit by lancets in the outer walls of the aisle . Very little of the visible surface of the cathedral interior is what we normally think of as a 'wall' . And what appears to be extremely thin.
As at Laon , the system of supports and supported elements is clearly diagrammed . Each pier of te main arcade consists of a masive core surrounded by four colonnettes. These are set around te core at regular intervals so as to give the piers 'corners' . Although the core and colonnettes of each pier have a conmmon moulded base , called the socle, they are differentiate at the level of the capital. Here the colonnettes have small, individual capitals and the pier-cores have larger ones proportional to their greater diameters. As we look down the nave, we see an alteration of piers with an octagonal core combined with cylindrical colonnettes, and piers with a cylindrical core surrounded by octagonal colonnettes . Above the level of the main arcades, bundles of wall shafts continue up through the triforium level to the springing of the vaults. There the wall shafts branch out into the ribs of rectangular four-part baults.
The wall elevation forms a regular grid . The three storeys are separated from one another by slightly projecting mouldings called string-courses. Between these, the dark ribbonof the triforium wraps around the itnerior of the building. But the veritcal direction donminates the grid. Not only is Chartres Cathedral tall but it looks tall, primarily of the strong projection of the piers and wall shafts . This emphasis on verticality, both delighting the eye and directing the mind toward heaven , became an important characteristic of the mature Gothic style.