Christopher Wren’s Designs for St. Paul’s Cathedral Essay

Words: 1758
Pages: 8

Analyse the evolution of Christopher Wren’s designs for St. Paul’s Cathedral.

From as early as before the Great Fire of London, Christopher Wren was involved in architectural projects for St. Paul’s cathedral. The evolution of his designs for the new St Paul’s began with his ideas for the old; the evolution of his designs were a process of both creation and reinvention. Starting with the vision he never lost - of the London skyline marked by a grand dome landmark - he endured the problems of building such a complex structure and the short-sighted criticisms of the all-too traditional clergy through dedication and persistence. In this essay I will analyze the evolution of his constant experiments which led up to the final design.
…show more content…
With the failure of the Great Model, Wren decided to play it safe with his next designs, returning to the cruciform basilican style he knew his employers preferred. During this period he produced a group of seven designs that share the same basilican layout as the design that received the final warrant: all these designs contain an octagonal crossing of eight equal arches and show us that, at this time, Wren was experimenting with different styles of domes. These include high, low, ancient, and modern domes. The result of these experiments was the plan that was finally accepted by his critics. Called the Warrant design, the plan carries on the same octagon crossing - which open to the nave and aisles - he had been developing, deciding on a fluted dome, rising in six stages up to a timber spire. As odd as the resulting dome may have appeared, it is clear what Wren was trying to accomplish with it: it was to be a classical compromise to a gothic tower and spire. The influence of Inigo Jones’s pre-fire cathedral is very noticeably present in this design as it is essentially a gothic cathedral. The Warrant plan satisfied the criteria the clergy looked for: it was traditional in both looks and in the way it was set up, and it could be built in parts and open to the public while the building was being carried out. Furthermore it had the kind of grand scale that a landmark of London must have. Despite this, the Warrant cathedral