In the field of architecture there are different types of structures that can be built, each with different purposes. In terms of styles, Gothic architecture was one of the most important that was developed in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and this type of artistic manifestation had several structural elements with its own characteristics, one of them was the flying buttresses , very important elements for construction.

What is Buttressing?

flying buttress is a type of structural element of a building that has the shape of a half arch and that must be placed on the outside of the building in order to improve the foundation . It is one of the main elements of Gothic architecture.


The Gothic art was responsible for introducing a number of important structures in the field of architecture. The flying buttress is undoubtedly one of these elements. Considered one of the most important aspects seen from a functional point of view , a flying buttress or flying arch as it is also known, is a strictly structural element that is located on the outside of a building which has a half-arch shape and is It is responsible for maintaining the pressure of the vault and to provide support .

It can be said that a flying buttress is a buttress , and this means that it is a type of structure that is built against another to give it greater strength . They are parts of architecture that are generally used in churches and large buildings.

Characteristics of a buttressing

There are several characteristics that we can observe in a flying buttress, the main of which are mentioned below:

  • It is in the shape of an arch divided in half.
  • The arch of the flying buttress projects from the wall of the structure until it reaches a pier that is responsible for supporting the weight.
  • It allows the construction of buildings with greater height and better elaboration .
  • It is a type of original structure of Gothic architecture .
  • It is common to observe them in the different medieval cathedrals that are still standing.
  • At present it is common to observe them in the construction of retaining walls and in the walls of water dams .
  • They have a sloping shape so it is also considered a tranquil arch .
  • Its lower part must be supported by a stirrup .
  • The upper part is the support that also contains a ribbed vault .
  • They are easy to see from the outside of the building.
  • It also works as a type of drain .

Origin of the buttressing

The flying buttress was born as a type of replacement for the abutments that were used in Roman architecture , it can be said that they were born with this type of architecture but were considerably developed thanks to Gothic architecture. The internal buttresses that were used in the Romanesque architecture that emerged in the 10th century were originated from the idea, which were used to provide internal support to the walls that made up the churches of the time.

When the Romanesque period was ending, the architects began to look for a way to build taller buildings and then decided to use flying buttresses to give them greater structure and strength. With the beginning of the Gothic period in the 12th century, they were used more frequently in churches and abbeys, characterized by containing a pointed arch , a ribbed vault and strong and resistant flying buttresses . One of the first churches to use this type of structure was the Notre Dame Cathedral located in Paris, France .

The Gothic architects of France , in the middle of the 12th century , decided that they should also leave the flying buttresses in sight because in this way they could, in addition to providing security , allow the free passage of light into the interior of churches and cathedrals, an aspect very important at the time.


The function of flying buttresses is in fact very important. With the beginning of the Gothic period , the architects realized the need to be able to use different construction options that could eliminate risks related to instability and the collapse of the structures and it was for this need that the flying buttress began to be used. in architecture.

It was also used to provide an optimal system to properly channel the water rainwater that accumulated at the top of the temple and it also made channels internal which so generally is finished off with a gargoyle from which water could fall to the floor . At present, with the new construction materials that exist and with the innovation of architecture, the flying buttress is also used as a type of buttress and as a support system in natural places, for example, in dams.of water. In addition, they can provide protection on slopes or places susceptible to land slopes in order to avoid possible damage and accidents to people.

Types of buttressing

There were several types of flying buttresses which are mentioned below:

  • Simple buttress: this type of structure carried the weight towards a buttress that was previously secured using a pinnacle for this purpose.
  • Double flying buttress : it mainly supported the highest walls located in the central nave.

What is the buttressing in electricity

In the electric field , the name of flying buttress is used to refer to a type of electrical device that has the ability to provide light within a specific environment. They are designed mainly for lighting decoration in indoor environments and currently, there are many types of them which can be installed in homes , buildings and offices , they are very sophisticated lighting elements that give a more modern and striking decoration.

The objective of this type of electrical appliance is to provide better and greater illumination to the place where they are installed and in most cases they use halogen type lights or LED lights , which are the most recommended by electricians today. . They can also be used in external places , but these must have adequate protection so that they can withstand the winds, rain and different inclement weather.

They can also be used as lanterns or lights in the streetlights that provide illumination in the streets, avenues and parks. In fact, they are the most widely used worldwide for this purpose and can be found in different sizes and models.


Flying buttresses are very important structures, especially in cathedrals or buildings that have a large size, as well as structures that need support , such as water dams. Thanks to them it was possible to build great temples during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , places that to this day contain a great deal of culture and history .

They are very important because they allow, through their arch-shaped structure, to be able to transmit to the ground all the different lateral forces that push the wall towards the outside, forces that come from the roofs and the pressure exerted by the wind on the wall. the roof. By transmitting these forces, it has the ability to provide lateral support to give the building greater security.

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