Aachen Cathedral – Chain Models

  Chain Model of the Aachen Choir Hall Copyright: © Bruno Schindler  

Chain Model of the Aachen Choir Hall (2018)

Since 2006, the load transfer of the Gothic choir hall has been simulated in several student seminars on the basis of a complex chain model. This results in very differentiated insights into the load distribution of pillars and vaults - partly realized with cantilevered stone layers and partly realized with pushing wedge stones.

On the one hand, the 9/14-sided end of the choir hall was obviously designed as a central building by the Gothic master builders in a perfect balance. On the other hand, the opening of this central building to the connecting longitudinal structure and its connection to the Carolingian octagon carries the risk that this disturbance of the purely cyclic balance in the vaults lifts the keystones, despite a balance of forces formed by several barrel-shaped peripheral ring beams.

A three-dimensional digital model allows insights into the building processes and proves to be a formal addition to the very abstract chain model.

Chain Model of the Octagon of the Aachen Palatine Chapel (2003)

The investigation of the load-bearing behaviour with analogue chain models enables the equilibrium of the forces to be clearly illustrated. For the eight-sided monastery vault in Aachen, the relationship between the Carolingian ring anchors made of iron and the vault masonry, modelled with the chains and weights, was shown and the stresses were read off in a ring shape. The experiment on the chain model also showed where the surfaces of plaster and mosaic could be expected to detach inside. The model is kept in the roof of Aachen Cathedral for teaching purposes by the Cathedral Construction Office.



Dipl.-Arch. Bruno Schindler