Chartres 3: Design of West Façade

The design of the twin towers of Chartres point to an extraordinary understanding of its designers, quite unlike pre or modern understandings of the outer planets and their harmonic ratios. We have already seen a propensity for using the ordinary English foot to indicate days-as-feet within the structure. The Façade hosts what is perhaps the most famous “rose window”, though it was only in later centuries that it would be termed thus, as the cult of the Virgin Mary became more widespread. But this cathedral was strongly dedicated to the Virgin, when built.

The two towers are separated by the same distance as the rose window is above the footings, namely 100 feet, while the façade is 150 feet wide. This has led me to rationalize the façade as being six units across of 25 feet, while the façade appears to end (and the towers begin) 200 feet above the footings.

Interpretation of the western Facade as composed as towers 4 apart, width 6 apart and height 8 units, all of 25 feet. The Rose Window is held within two 3,4,5 triangles within a wall of 2 units square.

That is the façade was therefore designed as a three by four rectangle, the rose window centrally located within a square of side length 50 feet.

In simplest units of 50 feet, 8 by 6 becomes the proportion 4 by 3, with diagonals that are 10 units (that is, 250 feet) where the rose is at the crossings of those diagonals, held between two 3,4,5 triangles.

This first Pythagorean triangle holds all of the ratios of regular musical harmony, having 4/3 (fourth), 5/4 (major third), 6/5 (minor third) between its sides, which multiplied together equal 60 and summed equal 12.

NEXT: to come

Interpreting Chartres
  1. the cosmic coding of its towers in height
  2. the harmony in its towers
  3. design of the west façade

Yet to come: the design of the Rose Window.

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