Spotlight on Design 11 – Monasteries

More detailed than lone churches in cities or towns, monasteries are communities unto themselves. In this Spotlight on Design, Stratego takes a close look at monasteries, beginning with his own Monastery in Danger.

Here you can see the isolated central area. It’s a squared construction on upper ground (or level) strengthened by simply crenellated walls and demarcated from the productive areas, the monastery’s workshops like bakeries, breweries, granaries, stables and so on…

Three stony stairs are leading up to this “holy” sector and both peasants and monks like going for a walk there and visiting the graves at the cemetery. The whole complex gives you an authentic impression of an intact and peaceful world.

The so-called “Herbarium” represents a classic medieval herb garden, where the monks cultivated aromatic healing herbs helpful against the many diseases of those days.

Another nice looking element is this symbolic cross-formed seemingly boiling spring water at ground level decorated with a wooden cross and bordered by lowered walls.

Lord Ako’s Glendalough Abbey is a masterpiece of a ruined monastery reflecting the simplicity of the monastic life. Everywhere you find traces of war and the smell of fire. The rectangular wall construction is badly damaged. The soil looks peppered with ashes and stones, and all free space inside the foundation walls is empty and desolated.

Pretty nice those scattered wild apple trees which are supposed to be the agrarian remains of a former flourishing monastic orchard.

Overall, you see a very naturalistic use of destroyed walls and stairs, and this unique church tower seems to be the only unharmed building there. You feel a mysterious, deathful silence, if you look at those five “neglected” graves that nobody took care of for a long time.

Don’t overlook another decent “eye-candy”: this insignificant shrine out of the way and located above a natural well.

Lord Ako, well known for his creative and effective concepts shows us how to achieve best results by applying specific technical tricks for a perfect map design.

Donatien Abbey is Lady Kester’s very individual interpretation and simultaneously her last year’s contribution for the “Castles of Wood” contest. A terrific work requires powers of concentration.

The entire layout has been made completely out of wood by applying the “wooden stairs and walls trick”. Here you see again a cross-formed complex of buildings whose roofs have been simulated by elements of wooden stairs. This outstanding kind of an ancient medieval monastery instinctively gives you the impression as if going through the earlier times of Christianity. It is a classic example expressing the monastic life of asceticism, modesty and deep faith.

Octavius Maximus throws light on another aspect of clerical life:

In this great example, The Holy City, the author shows the wealth and the pompous or prosperous life style reflected by an impressive ecclesiastical architecture. On this screenshot, you see a symmetrical “terraced” construction. High above there’s the religious centre, the cathedral. From there four widened stairs are leading down to all directions. Both on the left and on the right of each stairway there are basins filled with water and man-made artificial waterfalls with steaming waters on the ground floor. Several decorative pillars add a special touch to an exceptional and aesthetical map design.

The last nice little image shows an interesting detail of Lord Kyle’s Sherbert Monastery .

In this monastic courtyard, you see a medieval so-called “purgatorium”. In the Middle Ages, the monks used such shallow basins to purify their souls by symbolically washing their feet with “holy” water. In this example, steaming water bubbling out of a turret is feeding a small square basin.

Foot bathing has been a popular Christian ritual in ancient times and we have to go back in history to ancient Greece more than 3000 years ago, when brilliant architects developed ingenious water systems for their bath houses.

By the way, pay attention to the insignificant but good-looking wooden cross on top of a single rock. A nice idea!

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by ~Stratego