Masons at Work

Bernhard Flüge
Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus
Construction and Conception Techniques of Residential Buildings and Urbanism in Medieval Europe around 1100 AD: The Example of Cluny, France
This synopsis discusses stone constructions around 1100 AD when the European medieval town was just developing. The contributor discovered and documented in Cluny the two oldest medieval town houses known so far in France, dating from 1091 and 1136, and identified the so-called "Hôtellerie de St-Hugues" as the Aula of the Cluny III site, dating from 1107/08. The masonry of those domus solaratae is rather simple but characteristic, and it seems to be borrowed from Roman practices; so does the plaster in pietra-rasa technique, and the construction of a roof drain with brick meal mortar. Also the charpentries seem to be transformations of Late Antiquity models. In the case of the house from 1091, reminiscences of an old-established wood construction tradition are perceptible. In all analyzed buildings of that period, the conception and its transference to the building ground are closely related to the building structure. Characteristic "deformations" of the structure indicate a special space perception interpenetrating every masonry layer as well as the whole construction. They lead finally to a new system of geometrical proportion and arithmetic dimension, extending to urbanism and spatial planning, and apparently based on the Corpus agrimensorum.

Fig. 1. Cluny, Aula of the period III, 1107/08 (d). The petit appareil construction with partially conserved pietra-rasa-plaster is in the tradition of Roman building practices. Photo: Bernhard Flüge, May 1st, 2009.

Fig. 2. Cluny, Aula, findings completion with carpentry, partial reconstruction and conception proposition with a perch-based grid. Drawing: Bernhard Flüge 2008/2012.

Fig. 3. The Corpus agrimensorum contains all measures and their relations identified in the high medieval buildings of Cluny. The picture shows the instruction to realize a limitation respecting the topography (locorum natura), an important feature of the building realization and town expansion in Cluny around 1100.
B.A.V, Cod. Pal. Lat. 1564, c. 89v (Public domain due to copyright expiration).