Where do you put a flying buttress?

Maile Hutterer
Oct 6, 2013 6:11PM

A flying buttress comprises an external buttressing arch and the large pier that supports it. The placement, angel, and length of the arch can all affect the flying buttress’ structural efficiency. At Chartres Cathedral, the flying buttresses each have three arches, the lower two of which are connected by a radially placed arcade. The lower two arches brace the vault of the cathedral. The upper arch has little or nothing to do with the vault, but rather reduces the risk of damage to the building as a result of wind, which    can be very powerful at the height of the roof about 170 feet from the ground. Modern historians have long debated whether the upper arch was original to the rebuilding of the cathedral following a fire on June 10, 1194 or if it was added after an assessment of the cathedral in 1316. It is also possible that masons decided to add the upper flyers during the post-1194 reconstruction itself. 

Maile Hutterer