Sainte Chapelle, built in April of 1248, in Paris, France was an architectural innovation within the Gothic style of architecture. Within the gothic style there are distinct attributes that define it, these being; a light and airy interior space, flying buttresses, pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, and a grand tall design (fig 2)¬¬¬¬. Evolving from the Romanesque style the Gothic pushes towards the sky in a more freeing and uplifting space. Romanesque is known for features such as; large towers, forms in decoration, sturdy piers, thick walls, and overall massive qualities (Fig 1). This feeling of airiness is achieved through many innovations that lead to a more open design within Gothic cathedrals (Fig 2). Sacred space within the cathedrals had a lot of angles, planes, and a strong contrast between light and shadows. The sanctuary of Sainte Chapelle is a sacred place because it demonstrates requirements for the design of sacred space through its manipulation of light, spatial arrangement, and structure.
Within designing a sacred space the quality, manipulation, and effect the light within the chapel is very important in creating a spiritual atmosphere. Light has a real significance other that the amount of light let it but, as a spiritual power, capable of exercising influence and inspiring architectural form (Fig 3) (Jantzen, Pg. 67). As Shiner describes, when designing sacred space you much consider the concept of profane space and sacred space in light of the analysis of human spatiality (Shiner, Pg. 425). The essence of Gothic architecture most importantly has to do with revealing the properties of light for not only its decorative properties but, also its symbolic properties (Aldrich, Pg. 24). Due to the vaulting within the structure it opened up the wall surfaces for colored stained glass. This allowed the worshipper to have the feeling of spiritual and physical “illumination” at the same time (Fig 3) (Aldrich, Pg. 17). As Abbot Suger noted, there is a heavenly spiritual light symbolized through the glow of the stained glass windows. In order for the space to provide self-reflection, it is light which serves in the service and as the embodiment in the gaze (Stern, Pg. 26). Rebecca Stern writes on the power of light with vision and visibility:
“That which is light looks at me, and by means of that light in the depths of my eye, something is paint-something that is not simply a constructed relation, the object on which the philosopher lingers-but something that is an impression, the shimmering of a surface. . . which is in no way master by me” (Stern, Pg. 26).
In the aspect of Gothic architecture this is very important since light plays such an important role within the structure and the space. Within a chapel having both vision and visibility is very important since light has a physical and spiritual illumination within the chapel due to the light quality within. Another aspect of Gothic architecture that plays with light is...