Part 2 Gothic and IT Architecture -- What could they possibly have in common ?
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Part 2 Gothic and IT Architecture -- What could they possibly have in common ?

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This is part 2 of my Gothic and IT architecture series. Part 1 was posted earlier. This takes the parallels between Gothic architecture in the 12th century and IT architecture of today, building on ...

This is part 2 of my Gothic and IT architecture series. Part 1 was posted earlier. This takes the parallels between Gothic architecture in the 12th century and IT architecture of today, building on some of the ideas introduced in Part 1. Its intended to be instructive, generate ideas.

Have fun with it, and present with passion at all times.

Dennis Layton 2010

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    Part 2 Gothic and IT Architecture -- What could they possibly have in common ?  Part 2 Gothic and IT Architecture -- What could they possibly have in common ? Presentation Transcript

    • Gothic Architecture – the emergence of the enterprise
      Part 2 of 2
      Architecture and enterprise scale organizational abilities in the 12th century.
    • Introduction
      Gothic architecture, as we know it today represented a significant change in the way architects designed buildings. These change was evolutionary, so adoption was easier.
      By adopting new patterns, such as the flying buttress they were able to provide solutions to their stakeholders requirements, that probably exceeded expectations, till the “new” approach became the “norm”. Patterns, not complete designs were what was communicated from one building site to the next.
      The new approach also allowed architects to more easily adapt to changing requirements. This provided a significant motivation to adopting to the “new” approach.
      But once the ideas were adopted, what other kinds of challenges did these architects face ?
      Ectropic IT Architecture Inc.
    • Challenges
      Communication of designs between the architect and the builders, between the architect and patrons and between the architects themselves
      Scale and complexity of the building task
      Duration of the projects
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    • Scale and Complexity
      By any measure, the building of a cathedral was a large and complex project for its time. The scale and complexity of the project, required; an organizational structure, leadership, communication and architectural skills.
      After all, someone had to design a leading edge and innovative solution that met or exceeded the needs of the those that were funding the project and then work with various types of builders to ensure the successful integration of all of those components into a finished product. At the same time, communicating with the administrators and stakeholders to ensure their continued support and commitment.
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    • WestMinster Abbey - Cost
      The cost of each Gothic cathedral was estimated to have cost the equivalent of hundreds of millions dollars.
      Henry III’s twenty five year project at Westminster abbey cost about $90,000 when the entire income for the realm was only $70,000 per year. This one project consumed 5% of the total wealth available to the king for a quarter-century.
      According to budget documents obtained from the Government Printing Office, the national budget for 2007 totals about $2.784 trillion. At $16.143 billion, spending on NASA accounts for 0.58% of this. Compare this to NASA’s allocation during the mid-1960s when, despite the pressures of the war effort in Vietnam and President Johnson’s Great Society programs, NASA spending made up more than five percent of the federal budget.
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    • Salisbury Cathedral - Materials
      It is estimated that it required;
      Stone
      60,000 tons of stone in the main building, 6,400 tons are in the tower and spire. Much of it is limestone taken from quarries 12 miles away, transported to the site using an oxcart, each cart containing about of 1 ton of stone.
      Timber
      2,800 tons of timber in the roof, much of it hewn from local forests. The “rood beam” which supported the cathedral’s great cross, is a single piece of timber 4 feet thick and 80 feet long.
      Lead
      400 tons of lead were required for the roof, gutters and downspouts
      Glass
      32,000 square feet of glass
      Empire State Building - 207,000 cubic feet of limestone (18,630 tons) Total weight: 365,000 tons
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    • Challenges – It will only take about 3 centuries to complete
      The French Cathedrals at Amiens, Beauvais, Bourges, Evreux, Lyon and Rouen each took more than three centuries to complete. Others such as Narbonne, Sens Orleans and Senlis, took even longer. In England, Bristol cathedral took 688 years.
      The average lifespan, if you lucky to reach the age of twenty, was only 45 -50.
      Up to 95% of the population were involved in tending and harvesting crops.
      During the most active period of cathedral building, England was afflicted by the worst famine of the middle ages, outbreaks of plague, significant periods of war and civil unrest. Somehow in England alone, 27 Gothic cathedrals, hundreds of abbeys and monasteries and thousands of parish churches were built.
      These examples represent extremes. On average it has been estimated that the construction of a Gothic cathedrals in England took between 250 and 300 years to complete. In context, the average Gothic cathedral begun in 1776 would be under construction until 2033.
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    • Westminster Abbey - Workforce
      During the year 1253, the largest number of workers employed on the site at any given time was between April 27 and November 30 was 435 and the smallest number was 119. The average size of a weekly workforce was 309.
      Typically it was 2 common labourers for every skilled worker. In one study there were 15 categories of workers identified.
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    • Emerging organizational structure ..
      There was an emerging organizational structure that added complexity to the task. This was not just about the architect and his builders. There were patrons and administration that also needed to be communicated with.
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    • Roles and Responsibilities - Who were the players
      In many respects, the roles and responsibilities of the patrons, Operai and craftsmen are like the roles of the business executives, project manager, technical builders, of today.
      The architect had to communicate the proposed solution to each of these stakeholders. Each stakeholder is looking at different aspects of the same solution and as such, communicating the same vision to each requires;
      Understanding what each is looking for in the solution and presenting it in a way that is comprehensible, compelling and consistent.
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    • Roles and Responsibilities – Interdependencies
      Each is dependent on the skills of the other, the patron relied on the master mason to translate his/her requirements into something that met or exceeded those requirements. The operai, were responsible for making this happen in a reasonable time frame and cost effective manner.
      By all accounts there was a kind of balance of power between the three roles. Each had end-to-end responsibilities for the final result.
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    • Patrons as stakeholders – Patron and Architect
      It was not the master mason’s job to dictate a building’s appearance – that was the patron’s responsibility.
      The master’s technical skill did something to maintain the balance of power, since the patrons were dependent upon it.
      The unanswerable question whether skills were developed in response to demand or whether new skills provoked new demands arises already in the 1140’s with the new choir of the abbey church of Saint-Denis.
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    • Patrons as stakeholders – Requirements and Deliverables
      The account of rebuilding written by the patron, Abbot Suger, makes it clear what he wanted: a splendid setting for the shrine of the patron saint, adequate space for pilgrims to circulate, the whole to be encircled by a crown of light reflected through large stained glass windows. The architect adapted the established plan of a semi-circular apse with seven chapels radiating from an ambulatory or walkway.
      In the most significant area, the uninterrupted circuit of windows around the ambulatory, the master mason set out the geometry on two different interlocking curvatures that pushed the three easternmost chapels very slightly outwards. Suger’s account does not comment on this: perhaps he lacked the architectural vocabulary. But it leaves us to speculate that either he never noticed it, or that the master mason was a skilful diplomat in pushing a revolutionary solution past an essentially conservative patron.
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    • The emergence of Project Managers …
      The rebuilding of the Florence Cathedral lasted from 1296 to 1467.
      The responsibility for the rebuilding was put in the hands of the laity, not the Church. Master masons were appointed by the local government. From 1332 the Wool guild elected four members to account for the use of public funds. In the early days, these men known as the Operai were essentially powerless.
      In 1334, one of these Operai seems to have redirected money from the cathedral to the bell tower, which was rising steadily while the cathedral languished.
      Later, the Operai devised ways of keeping the master masons under closer surveillance.
      In the 1360s the design for the cathedreal was finally decided upon, for the first time theOperaiincluded the masters at their meetings and demanded a series of models and plans for their inspection. Further, they invited the expertise of visiting masters to comment on proposed changes. If the opinions were not unanimous, the different proposals were put on public display and sub-committees formed to represent public opinion.
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    • Communication – the transmission of ideas
      How did the idea of Gothic get transmitted from one place to the next ?
      How did the master builders communicate their designs to their team ?
      Finally how did the master builder communicate with their patrons?
      These are all challenges we face today as architects, the transmission and adoption of new ideas, communicating our design to a team of builders and to the stakeholders themselves. The evolution and advancement of architecture all depend on our ability to communicate with each other. Meeting or exceeding the requirements of our various stakeholders is due in large part to our ability to communicate with each other.
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    • Chatres
      Beauvais
      Greater Paris Basin – Transmission of the ideas
      Amiens
      (1220)
      Laon
      Noyon
      (1160)
      (1160)
      The idea of Gothic spread rapidly, starting in the Paris basin and then outward from there across Europe. The question is how did these ideas get transmitted, and implemented.
      Reims
      (1226)
      (1150s)
      St. Denis
      (1137)
      Paris
      Troyes
      (1160)
      (1220)
      Sens
      (1294)
      (1140s)
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    • Transmission of Ideas
      We’ve talked about the complexity and scale of these buildings, now imagine designing and building these structures, with only the simplest of design tools and methods and remembering that as the original architect of this design, you will not see the completed building in your lifetime. How do you ensure that your vision will be realized.
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    • Transmission of Ideas – Preserving your vision
      How do you preserve your design ideas.
      The obvious answer is to commit the ideas to paper, after all that is what we do today as IT architects. You would imagine that elaborate, and detailed drawings were done of these buildings. But consider …
      It is estimated that only about 5% of the entire European population could read, and no more than 2 percent could write. Further, paper was scarce and difficult to obtain. Vellum, was extremely expensive, difficult and time consuming to make.
      The printing press would not appear for another couple of centuries in 1450.
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    • Transmission of Ideas – Expressing your vision
      Even if you had paper on hand, there was another problem. The idea of linear perspective where you could visualize three-dimensional space on two-dimensional surface was not even invented yet.
      Linear perspective and the standardization of architectural drawings did not occur until Fillipo Brunelleschi came up with the idea. The first written account of this new method came in De Pictura, written in 1435.
      Therefore drawings of any sort were limited largely to floor plans and elevations only.
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    • Transmission of Ideas – Drawings and models
      Drawings and models were and remain the primary media through which these concepts are visualized. Their abstractive quality, make them highly useful for intellectual exploration and creativity.
      Architecture was depicted in drawings, paintings and murals in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of plans and elevations, following sacral architectural canons and empirical rules of construction. Using rulers, compasses, knotted cords and drawing on surfaces ranging from papyrus, leather, stuccoed and stone tablets and wooden panels.
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    • Tracings and Drawings
      Working drawings from which patterns could be taken were made full-size on a convenient surface, often incised into the stonework of the building itself.
      Another technique was to use a specially prepared plaster tracing table or floor. The incised designs included; arches, moulding profiles and patterns for windows. They are all drawn full scale, so that wooden patterns could be made from them, or the worked stones laid against them to check for accuracy.
      So rather than volumes of paper drawings the design was communicated in a rather piecemeal fashion, decomposed into a set of architectural patterns.
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    • Constructive Geometry
      So without linear perspective, how did they take these 2 dimensional floor plans and extrapolate the vision into a 3 dimensional building ? The answer is constructive geometry. That is the ability to take the elevation from a ground plan, including measurements and proportions.
      “ in designing a church the width of the choir was to be the module that should generate all other main measurements, lengths, heights and width. The outside walls should be 1/10th the width of the choir, and this wall thickness, should generate the smaller measurements of the buttresses, windows, mullions and transverse ribs. Proportional ratios were used to determine the cross ribs”
      In other words, the proportions were fixed, and the building set out by a process now known as constructive geometry. Using a mason’s square, compasses and straightedge the craftsman established the main dimensions by manipulating geometric figures like circles and polygons.
      The link between geometry and architecture was not new, however the connection was lost at that time. Circles and polygons were used, but there is no evidence that educated clerics tried to teach mathematics to the masons. Rather, the masons learned through practice on the building site, not through an understanding of any theoretical basis. Still they must have had a remarkable ability to think in 3 dimensions, and visualize the result.
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    • Architectural Models
      Models were another means by which a design could be communicated, primarily to the patrons. These models were essentially detailed prototypes, scaled models of what was to be built.
      Ostensibly to assist in communicating the buildings design to the authorities. Goldsmiths had long used them with highly decorative micro-architectural detail.
      There are many examples of models that survive in the form of paintings, sculptures, wood and metal. Models as part of the design process date from the fourteenth century in Italy, but there is no evidence of them in Northern Europe before the late fifteenth, when they were introduced, probably under Italian influence.
      To be clear, models were used for information, decoration and as votives, but not as aids to construction.
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    • Transmission of Ideas – Models
      Similar to architectural drawings, the number of models increased during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. While they were common place in Italy, particularly Tuscany there are few examples from the northern regions of Europe.
      As representational models they played a crucial role in seeking approval from communal authorities and patrons. There were different commissioning procedures between northern Europe and Italy eg., it was common practice in Florence to assign building commissions through competitions and architects were usually requested to submit drawings and models of their designs.
      The models provided a reference lasting beyond the tenure of the architect. They protected the original plans from unmotivated modifications later on
      The Opera del Duomo in Florence regularly destroyed models that did not represent the accepted design in order to avoid any confusion. At the beginning of each year all architects had to solemnly pledge that they would follow the design represented in the current model.
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    • Communication: the transmission of ideas ..
      Models were not a primary means of transmitting ideas, because they were rarely used. Drawings on parchment or in notebooks were portable could have been used. Those on tracing floors were obviously less portable.
      It also seems that the process of transmission was more centripetal than centrifugal. In other words, if a mason wanted to study a particular design, it was he that moved travelling to the building concerned to study it on the spot.
      It is likely that designs were transmitted through constructive geometry itself which allowed any design to be reproduced from a few verbal indicators. Still designs were not copied, rather it was a common approach to design, that was adapted and innovated upon by each master mason.
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    • Complexity and the need for an architect
      Certainly some of the need for a master builder to perform the role of an architect came from the fact that there were several types of builders, whose expertise ranged from stone, glass, lead roofing and wood that were involved. There needed to be someone to ensure the successful integration of the components.
      Architecture is in part about the selection and integration of a set of components, while maintaining the physical, and conceptual integrity of the whole solution. The details of the component substructures were left up to the craftsmen of glass, stone, timber and lead. The architect, in this capacity is more focussed at the integration points; where glass meets stone or where the lead roof meets the underlying timber infrastructure.
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    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      By any measure, the building of a Gothic cathedral was an immense undertaking. It was the scale and complexity of the problem, that separated the role of builder from architect. Then and today, being an architect means;
      Taking a large scale, complex problem given to the architect in the form of business requirements developed on behalf of stakeholders then creating a solution that meets or exceeds the stated requirements.
      Being able to create a compelling and practical architectural design, then communicating this to both builders and stakeholders.
      Being able to work with a multidisciplinary technology team, many of whom are specialists in one domain, while maintaining the integrity of the whole architectural design.
      Understanding and working with constraints of time, technology and funding and delivering a solution.
      Anticipating, and adapting to changing requirements.
      Understanding and working effectively with new design paradigms and technologies when the time is right.
      Ectropic IT Architecture Inc.
    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      Taking a large scale, complex problem given to the architect in the form of business requirements developed on behalf of stakeholders then creating a solution that meets or exceeds the stated requirements.
      Scale and complexity of the solution to be built are one of the determinants of whether an architect is needed. Large scale, and complex projects entail more risk, and cost. The building of a cathedral, is not the same as building a house. The architect is there to mitigate some of the risk, and in the long run reduce cost.
      The architect becomes the interface and pipeline for communications between the many designers, builders and stakeholders, presenting a different view of the same architecture in terms to each using terms and representations, that each can understand. In this way the architect preserves the integrity of the design throughout the process.
      Ectropic IT Architecture Inc.
    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      Being able to create a compelling and practical architectural design, then communicating this to both builders and stakeholders.
      Coming up with an architectural design is one thing, making it compelling to the stakeholders to ensure the funding of the project is another. Compelling means meeting or exceeding the stated requirements as economically as possible, but it is more than that. The design must infuse the stakeholders with enthusiasm to see the finished solution. There are always many solutions to a given set of requirements, but many of these would not compel stakeholders to fund them.
      Ectropic IT Architecture Inc.
    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      Being able to work with a multidisciplinary technology team, many of whom are specialists in one domain, while maintaining the integrity of the whole architectural design.
      On one level, the design of a cathedral is an integration of components of stone, glass, timber, and lead. We’ve talked about the fact that building a cathedral, meant the bringing together masters in each of these disciplines to achieve a common objective.
      The integrity of the architectural design depends ensuring that these components fit together, physically and aesthetically. The architect is the person that brings it all together, working with these masters while ensuring that their work will properly integrate together.
      Ectropic IT Architecture Inc.
    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      Understanding and working with constraints of time, technology and funding and delivering a solution.
      If only there were no constraints, we would have the time and funding needed to build the optimal solution. Architecture has to work within a set of constraints, time, money and resources typically.
      Still, architecting a 6 lane suspension bridge, when what is required is a pedestrian bridge over a stream, should not be considered good architecture, whatever the technical merits of the suspension bridge might be.
      This is not to say that as architects we need not influence requirements in pointing the need to think of future needs, but a solution that is over engineered and too costly is not good architectural design.
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    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      Anticipating, and adapting to changing requirements.
      Inherent in any good architecture is the ability for it to be easily changed, even after the building has been started. It is easy to imagine that one of the reasons, Gothic style of architecture supplanted the already established Romanesque, was that it was easier to adapt the building to changing requirements.
      Thin walls are easier to modify than thick walls that are structurally providing support for a rather heavy roof.
      Today, we are adopting the Service Oriented Architecture, because it provides a new found agility to adapt to changing business requirements.
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    • We have a lot in common with 12th century architects
      Understanding and working effectively with new paradigms for developing architectures when the time is right.
      Architecture is an evolving discipline, new paradigms for developing architectures emerge, in part these are driven by new technologies. What we have to do is architect, is learn and adapt to these new approaches when the time is right.
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    • Architecture is a state of mind ..
      “Omnium operationum prima est indubiter cogitatio, et haec est locutio intellectualis … “
      Guillame d’Avergne, Bishop of Paris (1218-1249)
      Guillame described the fundamental nature of architectural design – a process of intellectual abstraction through which architectural space is conceived.
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