(Click to enlarge) Three views of the interior of Amiens Cathedral.
The great height of the interior might give one the impression that the builders started to build upwards, kept on going and only reluctantly stopped their upward progress in order to build the vaulting. What must it have been like! For a few hundred years now- certainly since the Renaissance - we have had professional architects who have drawn up plans and elevations on paper before work was begun. The builders of these great edifices were no less professional but did things differently. For a start, they did not have paper and I suspect that this had a marked effect upon the design and the very appearance of the building. It is surely significant, for instance that, while the semi-circular arches of the earlier Romanesque style rose upon simple circular "drum" columns or piers, following the emergence of rib vaulting the columns or piers develop a (characteristically gothic) clustered form. While aesthetically this clustered form contributes to and enhances the appearance of height it seems also to have been a practical means of preparing for the lines of the ribs of the vault above. In short, the medieval builders were "drawing in space".