The Apse, Construction and Geometry: some Reflections The interest in apses is the result of a chain of episodes, not always connected to one another, outlining a framework for fruitful inquiry. It is no coincidence that this need is felt in a land like Sicily, an island at risk of earthquakes where history has been forced to make do with an unstable and age-old status-quo existing between innovation and resilience. Many of the possible lines of reasoning can be found in the following essays, while in this paper I will try using some examples (not just strictly Sicilian) to clarify the meaning and requirements of this field of investigation, in the awareness of all the limits that a short diachronic overview implies. The apses of some Norman cathedrals of western Sicily (Palermo, Monreale, and Cefalù) are marked by a decorative grandeur and a perfection that are unparalleled at least as far as their exteriors are concerned. For the Normans who ordered their construction, it was essential and rewarding to invest in that part of the works that could presumably be accomplished within a few years. This attention to the apses also had a propagandist component. The apses of the cathedrals of Mazara and Catania have resisted for centuries to catastrophes and human mutations becoming models even centuries after their construction. Compared with the weakness of the facade, the solidity of the apse emerges and is visible at a cursory glance. Generally speaking, there were three possible geometrical variants relating to the construction of apses; semicircular, polygonal (semi-octagonal), or straight. These options implied a different solution for the conch. The quarter of a sphere placed over a semicircular apse lent itself to being decorated with a mosaic or fresco.However, if it was made of bare cut stone, it would give rise to a series of complications. The blocks would be placed in horizontal or vertical rows. In some extraordinary examples a fan-shaped arrangement was used, often creating the shape of a seashell (chapel of the Sailors in the Sanctuary of the Annunciation in Trapani, dating to around 1520) or unique lenticular conformations, as in the case of the church of the Carmine in Mazara (1680s). The polygonal shape generally afforded greater ease when fitting openings on the sides and could be completed with ribbed roofing, which was much more practical, geometrically simpler and statically safer. The straight termination, finally, would require the construction of pendentives or trumpet shaped easements or, as in Sardinia and the eastern part of Spain, with small simple triangular crossings with three ribs (“tercerol”) to reconfigure the geometry of the conch. Clearly, over the course of history apses underwent processes of transformation or radical substitution. The liturgical components and the reasons for these renovations are known, but the phenomenon is not solely attributable to the Counter-Reformation. By contrast, the older apses were also a support on which a new structure or several ones could be built, creating a so-called “telescope” effect, as in the case of Cathedral of Mallorca. In Sicily it is still possible to observe the dissonant and dramatic effects of structures destined to engulf more ancient edifices, but which stop short before the demolition process is completed leaving visible remains of the original apses (mother church of Sciacca and Church of San Domenico in Palermo). Then there is the case of the multiplication of the apse that is usually found in centric plans and in those solutions, almost always of the 18th century, which exploit facades with a great central convexity.
Nobile, R. (2015). L’ABSIDE, COSTRUZIONE E GEOMETRIE: ALCUNE RIFLESSIONI. In L’ A B S I D E. COSTRUZIONE E GEOMETRIE (pp.7-19). Palermo : Edizioni Caracol.
|Titolo:||L’ABSIDE, COSTRUZIONE E GEOMETRIE: ALCUNE RIFLESSIONI|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore ICAR/18 - Storia Dell'Architettura|
|Data di creazione:||2014-03-20|
|Nome del convegno:||L’ A B S I D E. COSTRUZIONE E GEOMETRIE|
|Luogo del convegno:||Ragusa Ibla|
|Anno del convegno:||20-22 marzo 2014|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2015|
|Numero di pagine:||13|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.17401/ABSIDE-NOBILE|
|Citazione:||Nobile, R. (2015). L’ABSIDE, COSTRUZIONE E GEOMETRIE: ALCUNE RIFLESSIONI. In L’ A B S I D E. COSTRUZIONE E GEOMETRIE (pp.7-19). Palermo : Edizioni Caracol.|
|Tipologia:||0 - Proceedings (TIPOLOGIA NON ATTIVA)|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||0 - Proceedings (TIPOLOGIA NON ATTIVA)|