Flying buttress

The flying buttress (arc-boutant, arch buttress) is a specific form of buttress composed of an arch that extends from the upper portion of a wall to a pier of great mass, in order to convey to the ground the lateral forces that push a wall outwards, which are forces that arise from vaulted ceilings of stone and from wind-loading on roofs.[1]

The defining, functional characteristic of a flying buttress is that it is not in contact with the wall it supports, like a traditional buttress, and so transmits the lateral forces across the span of intervening space between the wall and the pier. To provide lateral support, flying-buttress systems are composed of two parts: (i) a massive pier, a vertical block of masonry situated away from the building wall, and (ii) an arch that bridges the span between the pier and the wall — either a segmental arch or a quadrant arch — the flyer of the flying buttress.[2]

Lübeck Marienkirche Strebebögen
Arching above a side aisle roof, flying buttresses support the main vault of St. Mary's Church, in Lübeck, Germany.


Aside 00348
The 4th-century Rotunda of Galerius in Thessaloniki, Greece, showing an early example of flying buttresses.

As a lateral-support system, the flying buttress was developed during late antiquity and later flourished during the Gothic period (12th–16th c.) of architecture. Ancient examples of the flying buttress can be found on the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna and on the Rotunda of Galerius in Thessaloniki. The architectural-element precursors of the medieval flying buttress derive from Byzantine architecture and Romanesque architecture, in the design of churches, such as Durham Cathedral, where arches transmit the lateral thrust of the stone vault over the aisles; the arches were hidden under the gallery roof, and transmitted the lateral forces to the massive, outer walls. By the decade of 1160, architects in the Île-de-France region employed similar lateral-support systems that featured longer arches of finer design, which run from the outer surface of the clerestory wall, over the roof of the side aisles (hence are visible from the outside) to meet a heavy, vertical buttress rising above the top of the outer wall.[3]

Flying buttress of the Notre-Dame de Reims, as drawn by Villard de Honnecourt

The advantage of such lateral-support systems is that the outer walls do not have to be massive and heavy in order to resist the lateral-force thrusts of the vault. Instead, the wall surface could be reduced (allowing for larger windows, glazed with stained glass), because the vertical mass is concentrated onto external buttresses. The design of early flying buttresses tended to be heavier than required for the static loads to be borne, e.g. the Chartres Cathedral (ca. 1210), and around the apse of the Saint Remi Basilica, which is an extant, early example in its original form (ca. 1170).[4] Later architects progressively refined the design of the flying buttress, and narrowed the flyers, some of which were constructed with one thickness of voussoir (wedge brick) with a capping stone atop, e.g. the Amiens Cathedral, the Le Mans Cathedral, and the Beauvais Cathedral.

The architectural design of Late Gothic buildings featured flying buttresses, some of which featured flyers decorated with crockets (hooked decorations) and sculpted figures set in aedicules (niches) recessed into the buttresses. In the event, the architecture of the Renaissance eschewed the lateral support of the flying buttress in favour of thick-wall construction. Despite its disuse for function and style in construction and architecture, in the early 20th century, the flying-buttress design was revived by Canadian engineer William P. Anderson to build lighthouses.[5]


Die Votivkirche in Wien; Denkschrift des Baucomit'es veröffentlicht zur Feier der Einweihung am 24. April 1879 (1879) (14597612677)
Architectural drawing of a Neo-Gothic flying buttress for the late 19th-century Votive Church, in Vienna.

Given that most of the weight-load is transmitted from the ceiling through the upper part of the walls, the flying buttress is a two-part composite support that features a semi-arch that extends to a massive pier far from the wall, and so provides most of the load-bearing capacity of a traditional buttress, which is engaged with the wall from top to bottom; thus, the flying buttress is a lighter and more cost-effective architectural structure.

By relieving the load-bearing walls of excess weight and thickness, in the way of a smaller area of contact, using flying buttresses enables installing windows in a greater wall surface area. This feature and a desire to let in more light, led to flying buttresses becoming one of the defining factors of medieval Gothic architecture and a feature used extensively in the design of churches from then and onwards. In the design of Gothic churches, two arched flyers were applied, one above the other, in which the lower flyer (positioned below the springing point of the vault) resists the lateral-thrust forces of the vault, whilst the upper flyer resists the forces of wind-loading on the roof.[6] The vertical buttresses (piers) at the outer end of the flyers usually were capped with a pinnacle (either a cone or a pyramid) usually ornamented with crockets, to provide additional vertical-load support with which to resist the lateral thrust conveyed by the flyer.[7]

Chaddesley Corbett 07
A flying buttress as remedial support for a wall in the village of Chaddesley Corbett

To build the flying buttress, it was first necessary to construct temporary wooden frames, which are called centring. The centering would support the weight of the stones and help maintain the shape of the arch until the mortar was cured. The centering was first built on the ground, by the carpenters. Once that was done, they would be hoisted into place and fastened to the piers at the end of one buttress and at the other. These acted as temporary flying buttresses until the actual, stone arch was complete.[8]

Remedial support application

Another application of the flying-buttress support system is the reinforcement of a leaning wall in danger of collapsing, especially a load-bearing wall; for example, at village of Chaddesley Corbett, the practical application of a flying buttress to a buckled wall is more practical than dismantling and rebuilding the wall.

Aesthetic style of the Gothic period

The desire to build large cathedrals that could house many followers along multiple aisles arose, and from this desire the Gothic style developed.[9] The flying buttress was the solution to these massive stone buildings that needed a lot of support but wanted to be expansive in size. Although the flying buttress originally served a structural purpose, they are now a staple in the aesthetic style of the Gothic period.[10] The flying buttress originally helped bring the idea of open space and light to the cathedrals through stability and structure, by supporting the clerestory and the weight of the high roofs.[10] The height of the cathedrals and ample amount of windows among the clerestory creates this open space for viewers to see through, making the space appear more continuous and giving the illusion of there being no clear boundaries.[10] It also makes the space more dynamic and less static separating the Gothic style from the flatter more 2 dimensional Romanesque style.[10] After the introduction of the flying buttress this same concept could be seen on the exterior of the cathedrals as well.[10] There is open space below the arches of the flying buttress and this space has the same effect as the clerestory within the church allowing the viewer to view through the arches, the buttresses also reach into the sky similar to the pillars within the church which creates more upward space.[10] Making the exterior space equally as dynamic as the interior space and creating a sense of coherence and continuity.[11]

Gallery of flying buttresses

Luchtboogbeelden Sint Jan Den Bosch 6

One of the very ornate flying buttresses of St. John's Cathedral, 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Basilique Saint-Remi de Reims-6272373819

In the basilica built ca. AD 1170 at the Abbey of Saint-Remi, in France a flying buttress system is used for lateral-support

Saint Rose of Viterbo Church and Convent, Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico

Saint Rose of Viterbo Church, Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico

St Peter and St Paul's Church, Easton Maudit-geograph-4481888-by-Mike-Beale

Tower of St Peter and St Paul's Church, Easton Maudit, England


Saint-Petrus-en-Pauluskerk, Ostend, Belgium

Bath Abbey detail 2

Bath Abbey, England

Amiens Cathédrale Notre-dame arc-boutant sud-est 4

Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France

See also


  1. ^ A Dictionary of Architecture, James Stevens Curls, Editor. 1999:Oxford. pp. 113–114.
  2. ^ For the functional mechanics of the flying buttresses, see "Chartres Cathedral: A Reinterpretation of its Structure", by Alan Borg and Robert Mark, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Sep. 1973), pp. 367–372.
  3. ^ James, John (September 1992). "Evidence for flying buttresses before 1180". J. Soc. Archit. Hist. 51 (3): 261–287. doi:10.2307/990687.
  4. ^ Prache, Anne, "Les Arcs - boutants au XIIe siècle", in Gesta, Vol. 15, No. 1 (1976), pp. 31–42.
  5. ^ Russ Rowlett, Canadian Flying Buttress Lighthouses, in The Lighthouse Directory.
  6. ^ Mark, R. & Jonash, R.S., 'Wind Loads on Gothic Structures' in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 29:3 (Oct. 1970), pp. 222–230.
  7. ^ A Dictionary of Architecture, James Stevens Curls, Editor. 1999:Oxford. p. 501.
  8. ^ Alex Lee, James Arndt, and Shane Goldmacher, Cathedral Architecture.
  9. ^ H., Moore, Charles (1979). Development + & and character of gothic architecture. Longwood. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0893413585. OCLC 632226040.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Frankl, Paul (1962). Gothic Architecture. 3300 Clipper Mill Road, Baltimore 11, Maryland: Penguin Books Inc. pp. 54–57.
  11. ^ Robert., Mark, (2014). Experiments in Gothic Structure. Bibliotheque McLean. ISBN 0955886864. OCLC 869186029.


AMC Cavalier

The AMC Cavalier was a concept compact car made by American Motors (AMC) in 1965. It was innovative by its symmetrical design and use of interchangeable body parts.

Belle Isle Northeast Light

Belle Isle Northeast Light is a 27-metre (89 ft) tall, 12-sided flying buttress lighthouse located on Belle Isle, Newfoundland, which was built in 1905. It is one of three lighthouses on the island and was maintained by the Canadian Government despite the fact that Newfoundland did not join Confederation until 1949. It was designed by William P. Anderson as one in a series of nine buttressed lighthouses built in Canada around 1910.

Its light characteristic is a white flash occurring every eleven seconds. The lightsource is placed at a focal plane of 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level. A fog signal consisting of a single blast may be sounded every 30 seconds if needed.

Brooke High School

Brooke High School is a public high school in Wellsburg, West Virginia, United States. It is the only high school in the Brooke County School District. Athletic teams compete as the Brooke Bruins in the WVSSAC Class AAA as well as the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.


A buttress is an architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall. Buttresses are fairly common on more ancient buildings, as a means of providing support to act against the lateral (sideways) forces arising out of the roof structures that lack adequate bracing.

The term counterfort can be synonymous with buttress, and is often used when referring to dams, retaining walls and other structures holding back earth.

Early examples of buttresses are found on the Eanna Temple (ancient Uruk), dating to as early as the 4th millennium BCE.

Cape Anguille

Cape Anguille is a headland and the westernmost point in Newfoundland, reaching into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It is the southern edge of St. George's Bay. Its name is derived from the nearby Cape Anguille community.

The new lighthouse was established in Cape Anguille in 1960, replacing a predecessor from 1908. The new lighthouse is octagonal pyramidal in shape, 17.7 metres (58 feet) tall, and made of concrete. The light is emitted at a focal plane of 35 metres (115 ft) above sea level, showing a characteristic of one white flash every five seconds.


A counter-arch is built adjacent to another arch to oppose its forces or help stabilize it.


Flyer or flier may refer to:

An aviator, a person who flies an aircraft

Flyer (pamphlet), a single-page leaflet

French Gothic architecture

French Gothic architecture is a style which emerged in France in 1140, and was dominant until the mid-16th century. The most notable examples are the great Gothic cathedrals of France, including Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, and Amiens Cathedral. Its main characteristics were the search for verticality, or height, and the innovative use of flying buttresses and other architectural innovations to distribute the weight of the stone structures to supports on the outside, allowing unprecedented height and volume, The new techniques also permitted the addition of larger windows, including enormous stained glass windows, which filled the cathedrals with light. The French style was widely copied in other parts of northern Europe, particularly Germany and England. It was gradually supplanted as the dominant French style in the mid-16th century by French Renaissance architecture.

Gothic architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

Its most prominent features included the use of the rib vault and the flying buttress, which allowed the weight of the roof to be counterbalanced by buttresses outside the building, giving greater height and more space for windows. Another important feature was the extensive use of stained glass, and the rose window, to bring light and color to the interior. Another feature was the use of realistic statuary on the exterior, particularly over the portals, to illustrate biblical stories for the largely illiterate parishioners. These technologies had all existed in Romanesque architecture, but they were used in more innovative ways and more extensively in Gothic architecture to make buildings taller, lighter and stronger.

The first notable example is generally considered to be the Abbey of Saint-Denis, near Paris, whose choir and facade were reconstructed with Gothic features. The choir was completed in 1144. The style also appeared in some civic architecture in northern Europe, notably in town halls and university buildings. A Gothic revival began in mid-18th-century England, spread through 19th century Europe and continued, largely for ecclesiastical and university structures, into the 20th century.

Graphic novel

A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term "comic book", which is generally used for comics periodicals.

Fan historian Richard Kyle coined the term "graphic novel" in an essay in the November 1964 issue of the comics fanzine Capa-Alpha. The term gained popularity in the comics community after the publication of Will Eisner's A Contract with God (1978) and the start of Marvel's Graphic Novel line (1982) and became familiar to the public in the late 1980s after the commercial successes of the first volume of Art Spiegelman's Maus in 1986 and the collected editions of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns in 1986 and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen in 1987. The Book Industry Study Group began using "graphic novel" as a category in book stores in 2001.


ipfirewall or ipfw is a FreeBSD IP, stateful firewall, packet filter and traffic accounting facility. Its ruleset logic is similar to many other packet filters except IPFilter. ipfw is authored and maintained by FreeBSD volunteer staff members. Its syntax enables use of sophisticated filtering capabilities and thus enables users to satisfy advanced requirements. It can either be used as a loadable kernel module or incorporated into the kernel; use as a loadable kernel module where possible is highly recommended. ipfw was the built-in firewall of Mac OS X until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in 2011 when it was replaced with the OpenBSD project's PF. Like FreeBSD, ipfw is open source. It is used in many FreeBSD-based firewall products, including m0n0wall and FreeNAS.

A port of ipfw and the dummynet traffic shaper is available for Linux, OpenWrt and Microsoft Windows. wipfw is a Windows port of an old (2001) version of ipfw.

John Hungerford (died 1635)

John Hungerford (c 1566 – 18 March 1635) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1611.

Hungerford was the son of Anthony Hungerford of Downe Ampney, Wiltshire and his wife Bridget Shelley, daughter of John Shelley. He matriculated at St John's College, Oxford on 12 April 1583, aged 17.He was a J.P. for Gloucestershire and Wiltshire from 1588 and was knighted in 1591. For 1592–93 he was High Sheriff of Wiltshire and for 1597–98 High Sheriff of Gloucestershire. He was awarded MA on 9 July 1594. In 1597, Hungerford was elected Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire. He took an interest in Cricklade and in 1601 built the market house in the High Street, and a flying buttress for the Lady Chapel of St Sampson’s Church. He was elected MP for Cricklade in 1604. He was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to King James I and was Deputy Lieutenant for Gloucestershire in 1628.Hungerford died in 1635 "honourable in his life, serviceable to his King and country, liberal to his friends, charitable to the poor and courteous to all".Hungerford married firstly Mary Berkeley daughter of Sir Richard Berkeley and secondly Anna Goddard daughter of Edward Goddard. He was the brother of Anthony Hungerford of Black Bourton.

Kolker House

The Kolker House is a historic building located in Guttenberg, Iowa, United States. The two-story brick structure was built about 1859 in what is known as the "Wide Gable Style," with the roof's ridge parallel to the street. Its significance is derived from its early construction, its brick rather than stone construction, a "Flying Buttress" eavespout at the houses right corner, and its excellent condition. The kitchen wing is on the east, and the garage dates from the late 20th-century. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Load-bearing wall

A load-bearing wall or bearing wall is a wall that is an active structural element of a building, that is, it bears the weight of the elements above said wall, resting upon it by conducting its weight to a foundation structure. The materials most often used to construct load-bearing walls in large buildings are concrete, block, or brick.

Load-bearing walls are one of the earliest forms of construction. The development of the flying buttress in Gothic architecture allowed structures to maintain an open interior space, transferring more weight to the buttresses instead of to central bearing walls. The Notre Dame Cathedral is an example of a load-bearing wall structure with flying buttresses.

In housing, load-bearing walls are most common in the light construction method known as "platform framing", and each load-bearing wall sits on a wall sill plate which is mated to the lowest base plate. The birth of the skyscraper era, the concurrent rise of steel as a more suitable framing system first designed by William Le Baron Jenney, and the limitations of load-bearing construction in large buildings led to a decline in the use of load-bearing walls in large-scale, commercial structures.


Miletus (; Ancient Greek: Μίλητος, translit. Milētos; Hittite transcription Millawanda or Milawata (exonyms); Latin: Miletus; Turkish: Milet) was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia, near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria. Its ruins are located near the modern village of Balat in Aydın Province, Turkey. Before the Persian invasion in the middle of the 6th century BC, Miletus was considered the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities.Evidence of first settlement at the site has been made inaccessible by the rise of sea level and deposition of sediments from the Maeander. The first available evidence is of the Neolithic.

In the early and middle Bronze age the settlement came under Minoan influence. Legend has it that an influx of Cretans occurred displacing the indigenous Leleges. The site was renamed Miletus after a place in Crete.

The Late Bronze Age, 13th century BC, saw the arrival of Luwian language speakers from south central Anatolia calling themselves the Carians. Later in that century other Greeks arrived. The city at that time rebelled against the Hittite Empire. After the fall of that empire the city was destroyed in the 12th century BC and starting about 1000 BC was resettled extensively by the Ionian Greeks. Legend offers an Ionian foundation event sponsored by a founder named Neleus from the Peloponnesus.

The Greek Dark Ages were a time of Ionian settlement and consolidation in an alliance called the Ionian League. The Archaic Period of Greece began with a sudden and brilliant flash of art and philosophy on the coast of Anatolia. In the 6th century BC, Miletus was the site of origin of the Greek philosophical (and scientific) tradition, when Thales, followed by Anaximander and Anaximenes (known collectively, to modern scholars, as the Milesian School) began to speculate about the material constitution of the world, and to propose speculative naturalistic (as opposed to traditional, supernatural) explanations for various natural phenomena.

Miletus is the birthplace of the Hagia Sophia's architect (and inventor of the flying buttress) Isidore of Miletus and Thales, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher (and one of the Seven Sages of Greece) in c. 624 BC.

NBM Publishing

Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing Inc. (or NBM Publishing) is an American graphic novel publisher. Founded by Terry Nantier in 1976 as Flying Buttress Publications, NBM is one of the oldest graphic novel publishers in North America. The company publishes English adaptations and translations of popular European comics, compilations of classic comic strips, and original fiction and nonfiction graphic novels. In addition to NBM Graphic Novels, the company has several imprints including Papercutz with comics geared towards younger audiences, ComicsLit for literary graphic fiction, and Eurotica and Amerotica for adult comics.According to NBM, it is "the second largest indie comics press after Fantagraphics with close to $3MM in yearly retail sales on over 200,000 graphic novels sold a year plus tens of thousands of comic books and magazines". The company says their "editorial choices [...] take [their] cue from the large and well-respected European comics scene".

Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris (; French: [nɔtʁə dam də paʁi] (listen); meaning "Our Lady of Paris"), also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.The cathedral was begun in 1160 and largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. Soon after the publication of Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, popular interest in the building revived. A major restoration project supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc began in 1845 and continued for twenty-five years. Beginning in 1963, the facade of the Cathedral was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime, returning it to its original color. Another campaign of cleaning and restoration was carried out from 1991-2000.As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame contains the cathedra of the Archbishop of Paris, currently Michel Aupetit. 12 million people visit Notre-Dame yearly, which makes it the most visited monument in Paris.

St Peter's Cathedral, Armidale

St Peter's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral with heritage-listed building and grounds at 122 Rusden Street, Armidale, Armidale Regional Council, New South Wales, Australia. It is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Armidale. The cathedral was designed by John Horbury Hunt and Bishop James Francis Turner and built from 1871 to 1938. It is also known as the Anglican Cathedral Church of St Peter Apostle and Martyr. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 12 March 2014.St Peter's is located between the town hall and Central Park and diagonally opposite the Roman Catholic Church's Cathedral of St Mary and St Joseph.

William P. Anderson

Colonel William Patrick Anderson CMG (1851–1927) was a Canadian civil engineer. He was Superintendent of Lighthouses for almost 40 years, and was responsible for many of the more notable lighthouses in Canada.

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