Dr. Hugh McCague on Geometry and Romanesque Design

The spaces, volumes, complex curves and lines of medieval design were generated by manipulating simple shapes – circles and squares, mostly – in a process we call Constructive Geometry. I spoke with one of the country’s leading experts on this, Dr. Hugh McCague, about how geometry was understood and executed in the Romanesque period.

Hugh discusses the use of ratios such as 1:√2 and the golden section. If you’re not familiar with these, you may first want to see them and how they were generated in this short video:

You have to admit, the generation of the ogee arch is a thing of beauty….

Here’s the audio of my full conversation with Hugh. Enjoy!

The music is by Melos Choir and Period Instruments of Kingston, Ontario, from their CD A Star in the East.

Peter Coffman, Supervisor, History & Theory of Architecture program