“She is looking at the abbey church of St. Denis – which is widely studied and well known – as a means of exploring possible connections between medieval thought and architecture,” said Lisa Reilly, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History in the School of Architecture and one of Bucheli’s mentors on this project. “Indeed, this topic has been explored at St. Denis before and often rejected by more recent scholars, but Martina is looking at more recent explorations of this idea and reading related primary sources in medieval philosophy and theology quite deeply with support from the Dominican House of Studies.”
As an architecture student, Bucheli learned the connection between people and the places they create.
“Peter Waldman’s [course] ‘Lessons of the Lawn’ in particular helped me see how stories, meaning and ideas have always played a significant role in design,” Bucheli said. “He taught me about ‘connective tissues’ between architecture and many, many other branches of knowledge and disciplines. I began to see that architecture results from the immaterial – the cultural, religious, political and social context – as much as it results from the material.”
This opened new doors for Bucheli, who was also discovering St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican philosopher and theologian, and Pseudo-Dionysius, fifth-century philosopher who put a Christian context on pagan neoplatonism, a school of thought expanding on the work of Greek philosopher Plato.
“The study of the thought of these two minds exposed me to a new vision of the world,” Bucheli said. “Pseudo-Dionysius was instantly fascinating to me, especially because of the way he described the nature of God, the world and the human person. Reading and understanding these works changed my perspective on what I saw around me, and so I immediately understood that a medieval monk like Suger would have also seen the world differently.”