- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 22 Sep 2020
Flying buttresses consist of an inclined beam carried on a half arch that projects from the walls of a structure to a pier which supports the weight and horizontal thrust of a roof, dome or vault. This thrust is carried by the flying buttress away from the building and down the pier to the ground. The pier is frequently crowned by a pyramidal or conical ornament known as the pinnacle, which helps to add weight and improve stability.
The balancing of forces by the addition of flying buttresses has enabled buildings to become much taller and more elaborate. They are a common feature of Gothic architecture and are often found in medieval cathedrals.
Romanesque architecture dating back to the 10th century featured internal buttresses as supporting elements for the inside of church walls. Towards the end of the Romanesque period, architects were aspiring to build churches and cathedrals on an ever-more ambitious scale, and with the arrival of the Gothic period in the 12th century, flying buttresses were introduced as a means of making such buildings taller. By directing the weight of the roof away from the walls, more windows could also be incorporated which provided cathedrals with much more natural light.
One of the most prominent cathedrals to include flying buttresses was Paris’ Notre Dame which began construction in 1163 and was completed in 1345. Flying buttresses were also a distinctive feature of the Saint Chapelle in Paris, the Duomo in Milan, and the cathedrals at Chartres, Rouen, Reims, Amiens, as well as London’s Westminster Abbey.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Architectural styles.
- Barrel vault.
- Classical orders in architecture.
- Conoid shell.
- Elements of classical columns.
- English architectural stylistic periods.
- Load-bearing wall.
- Pendentive dome.
- Shell roof.
- Suspended ceiling.
- Types of dome.
Featured articles and news
Revised guide to competition rules available.
Brick slip soffit systems and intricate brick features.
An innovative engineering approach could have had tragic consequence for NYC.
Some secrets behind how canals work.
Breaking down possible steps of pre-contract management.
ICE event includes comments from Welsh Government Minister Julie James.
How to write them and what they should include.
Designing Buildings Wiki becomes the world's first website to adopt the new knowledge standard.
Assessing the most beneficial design elements.
Exploring different types of vinyl flooring.
New Government task force will build beauty into reformed planning process.
Five outstanding aspects of the profession.