Construction Methods and Models of Cistercian Abbeys in North-Western Italy between XII and XIII Century

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Construction Methods and Models of Cistercian Abbeys in North-Western Italy between XII and XIII Century

Beltramo, Sylvia (Polytechnic of Turin, Department of Housing and City, Turin, Italy)

Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Construction History, Cottbus, May (2009)    

Abstract

Several studies on the Cistercian architecture in Europe have reported on the construction methods and models in the monastic construction sites. Recent European historiography has contributed to the meeting between the local constructive traditions and the over regional models spread by Cistercians into Italy. A great debate arose about the true paternity of the architectural model and the role of St. Bernard in its formulation and diffusion inside the Cistercian world. The well-preserved models of Casanova, Rivalta Scrivia give the opportunity to understand into details the rules of the planning layout ad quadratum and architectonical modules. The use of repeated modules can be found also in part of the elevation in the churches which have been analysed.

In some areas, however, the employment of different skilled workers, who were used to local constructive tradi- tions, led to building sites in which some phases signed a clear chronological and technological gap from the beginning. The skilled workers employed in Casanova, Rivalta Scrivia and Staffarda’s construction sites brought their own experience and knowledge and could hardly comply with the strict rules of the monastic order. The North-Western Italy cases, objective of this study, line up with the constructive iter which have been hypothe- sized for the major factories of St. Bernard’s monks in the Lombard area: after a first phase conceived in accor- dance with strict schemes, building sites continue with more freedom, following the local constructive tradition.

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Sharan Newman