Portrait of Dr Nikolaos Karydis

Dr Nikolaos Karydis

Research Leave Autumn 2019
Senior Lecturer
Programme Director: MSc Architectural Conservation
Ethics Representative


Qualifications: M.Arch. M.Sc. Ph.D.

Nikolaos Karydis is a practising architect as well as an academic. He studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens from 1998 to 2004. Having won a Greek state scholarship, he studied Conservation of Historic Buildings at the University of Bath, where he was awarded the Master of Science with distinction in 2006. In the three following years he remained in Bath, carrying out his doctoral research in the History of Architecture. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 2009, and, in 2010, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Rome Studies Program of the University of Notre Dame. In parallel to his academic work and research, he has worked on urban design and architectural projects both independently and as a senior designer in collaboration with Porphyrios Associates in London.

His research focuses on two different areas: the development of construction technology and the design aspect of city making, with specific focus on the European traditions. The Ph.D. thesis he carried out at the University of Bath reflects his interest in the development of vaulting. His research in this field has sought to recapture the original vaulted form and structure of the Early Byzantine churches of west Asia Minor. This work was distinguished with the 2010 R.I.B.A. President’s Commendation for Outstanding Ph.D. thesis and resulted in his book on Early Byzantine vaulted construction, published by B.A.R. International Series in 2011.

Dr Karydis is particularly interested in research projects that bring together the detailed study of individual monuments with a broad view of the urban environment. His current work looks at urban development in Early Modern Rome, and investigates the ways in which specific building projects of the 16th and the 17th centuries conditioned urban renewal. Entitled 'Buildings as Engines of Change in Rome from Sixtus IV to Alexander VII', this three-year project highlights the changing attitudes concerning the interplay between building and urban space in Rome and reconstructs the stages of the planning history of some of Europe’s most influential urban forms.

Research interests

Survey, Analysis and Conservation of Historic Buildings

  • Approaches in graphic recording
  • Structural analysis of historic buildings
  • Graphic reconstruction methodology
  • Structural conservation techniques
  • The development of the philosophy of conservation from the Renaissance to the present

History of the Vaulted Construction

  • Surveying, reconstruction and 3D graphic modeling of vaulted structures
  • Roman, Late Antique and Byzantine vaulted architecture
  • The use of lath and plaster vaults in Georgian and Regency architecture in England
  • Contemporary brick vaulting

Vernacular Architectural Idioms

  • Survey of vernacular houses in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Structural analysis of traditional, earthquake-resistant construction systems
  • Preservation of vernacular settlements
  • Urban space in vernacular settlements

History of Urban Form

  • Urban history of the city of Rome
  • Architectural analysis of Rome's urban structure
  • Historical and cultural contexts of citymaking in Early Modern Europe
  • Urban development of the cities of west Asia Minor in Late Antiquity
  • Design of contemporary tourist settlements


Module CodeModule TitleInformation
AR832Research Methods and AnalysisModule Convenor
AR842The Legislative FrameworkModule Convenor
AR554Urban InterventionTutor
AR843Intervention at Historic BuildingsModule Convenor
AR324Ancient and Medieval ArchitectureModule Convenor
AR545Architectural DesignTutor


PhD Supervision



  • Karydis, N. (2019). The development of the Church of St Mary at Ephesos from late antiquity to the Dark Ages Magdalino, P. and Ladstatter, S. eds. Anatolian Studies [Online] 69:175-194. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0066154619000103.
    The Church of St Mary is one of the most significant monuments of Ephesos, but also one of the most enigmatic. Its
    repeated modifications prior to its destruction created an amalgam of different phases that have proven difficult to decipher
    within the present remains. Written records and inscriptions suggest that this church was the venue of the riotous
    Ecumenical Council of AD 431, but the identification of the phase of the building that corresponds to this event is controversial.
    And, although the remains make it clear that at some point the church was transformed into a domed basilica, the
    latter’s form and date have not been established with certainty. The present article tries to fill these lacunae through a new
    survey of the remains of the church and a re-examination of the evidence from the archaeological excavations of the 20th
    century. This new investigation of wall structures and design patterns within the remains leads to new interpretations of
    the evidence, and sheds further light on the history of the Church of St Mary from its late antique origins to the Dark Ages.
  • Karydis, N. (2016). The Evolution of the Church of St. John at Ephesos during the Early Byzantine Period. Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes in Wien [Online] 84:97-128. Available at: http://www.oeai.at/.
    This article retraces the phases of construction of the church of St. John at Ephesos from the late fourth to the sixth century. In spite of the importance of this monument as a landmark of Early Byzantine Ephesus and a masterpiece of Justinianic architecture, our knowledge of its history is limited. Although excavations during the 20th century revealed a series of overlapping layers of construction, visualising these layers and establishing their chronology is fraught with difficulties. The present article aims to tackle this challenge by reviewing all the evidence published by the excavators. Analysing the form and structure of the fragmentary remains of the building and interpreting them by reference to written records sheds new light on the form of the original, Early Christian church and its transformation during the times of Justinian.
  • Karydis, N. (2014). Conservation of Historic Buildings along the Eroding Coastline of Northern Jutland. Danish Journal of Archaeology [Online] 3:82-85. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21662282.2014.994910.
  • Karydis, N. (2012). A Monument of Early Byzantine Sardis: Architectural Analysis and Graphic Reconstruction of Building D. Anatolian Studies [Online] 62:115-139. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0066154612000063.
    Sardis constituted a major urban centre during the early Byzantine period, an era marked by the gradual transformation of the city into a Christian metropolis. From the fourth to the sixth century AD, Sardis maintained an important commercial, industrial and administrative role that sustained high-quality monumental construction. Yet, the major architectural types that emerged during this crucial period in the centre of the early Christian city are largely unknown to us. The unexcavated remains of the monument known as ‘Building D’ offer the best opportunity to shed light on this enigmatic aspect of the history of the city. Indeed, these remains display a late fourth century reused inscription as well as construction details typical of the early Byzantine period. They also lie in what must have been a central area of the city during this time. At first sight, this building seems hopelessly dilapidated and largely inaccessible. Still, the current paper demonstrates that a closer examination of the fabric of Building D reveals invaluable clues for its original form and function. This new exploration of the building includes the graphic recording, careful analysis and interpretation of the remains, thus providing the evidence required for the first substantiated reconstruction of a major part of the monument. The exploration reveals the articulation and structure of the primary load-bearing elements, as well as the form of the enormous vaulted canopy that covered one of the most imposing and towering spaces of early Byzantine Sardis. The article uses this reconstruction as a basis for the identification of those architectural features that help to interpret the function of the building, its role in the development of late antique Sardis as well as its position in the evolution of early Byzantine architecture in western Asia Minor.
  • Karydis, N. (2012). The Vaults of St. John the Theologian at Ephesos: Visualizing Justinian’s Church. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians [Online] 71:524-551. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/jsah.2012.71.4.524.
  • Karydis, N. (2012). The Early Byzantine Domed Basilicas of West Asia Minor, An essay in Graphic Reconstruction. Late Antique Archaeology [Online] 9:357-381. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/22134522-12340013.
    This paper investigates the methodology employed in the recent survey and reconstruction of the major Early Byzantine domed churches of west Asia Minor. This involved both the documentation of construction details as well as their interpretation by reference to coeval monuments elsewhere. Focusing on this methodology, the author explores techniques of graphic recording and the theoretical framework within which parallels with other buildings can inform the work of reconstruction. The detailed examination of two case studies illustrates the way in which seemingly random scraps of testimony were interpreted to provide evidence for the missing superstructure of the churches. These case studies also serve to explore the adaptation of the methodology to sites with different characteristics and help to assess the credibility of the resulting graphic reconstructions.


  • Karydis, N. (2011). Early Byzantine Vaulted Construction: Churches of the Western Coastal Plains and River Valleys of Asia Minor. [Online]. Oxford: Archaeopress. Available at: http://www.barpublishing.com/early-byzantine-vaulted-construction-in-churches-of-the-western-coastal-plains-and-river-valleys-of-asia-minor.html.
    The churches of St. John and St. Mary at Ephesos, ‘Building D’ at Sardis, St. John at Philadelphia, and the basilicas of Hierapolis illustrate the development of vaulted construction in the west coast of Asia Minor between the 5th and the 7th century AD. These churches, due to their dilapidated condition, constitute ideal sources of information about the materials and construction techniques employed in some of the most important building programs of the early Byzantine Empire.

    The ruined state of the monuments and the lack of written records have hindered attempts to reconstruct their original form. Although the surviving load-bearing elements of most of the churches have been very well documented, the potential of their remains to offer in-formation about the nature of vaults has not yet been fully appreciated. As a result, the vaulting practices of west Asia Minor remain enigmatic, though they clearly influenced the early development of Byzantine church architecture.

    The constructional analysis of these churches, along with the reconstruction of their vaults, constitutes the main thrust of the present study. The author’s new documentation of their structural fabric, carried out in the field during 2007 and 2008, concentrates on the recording of a series of unexplored vault fragments and construction details. The graphic investigation of this evidence, aided by interpretation on the basis of formal comparisons, leads to reasoned revised reconstructions of each church.

    The resulting reconstruction drawings form the basis for the exploration of some of the most interesting early Byzantine vaulting patterns. Continuing efforts initiated by A. Choisy more than a century ago, this leads to a new typology of vault structures for the region. The latter embraces the structural tissue of vaults, and, thus, hopes to go beyond classifications based solely on geometrical forms, which are too restrictive to respond to the wide variety of solutions found in the region.

    This research reveals the diversity, elegance and sophistication that characterize some of the most important early Byzantine churches. The analytical study of these monuments highlights the role of the cities of west Asia Minor as centres for experimentation in the field of vaulted construction during the first centuries of the Byzantine period.
  • Karydis, N. (2003). Eresos: House, Construction, Settlement. [Online]. Athens: Papasotiriou. Available at: http://www.ebooks.gr/gr/%CE%B5%CE%BA%CE%B4%CE%BF%CF%83%CE%B5%CE%B9%CF%82-%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%83%CF%89%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%81%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%85-455/%CF%83%CF%85%CE%B3%CE%B3%CF%81%CE%B1%CF%86%CE%B5%CE%B1%CF%82-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%81%CF%85%CE%B4%CE%B7%CF%82-%.

Book section

  • Karydis, N. (2018). Basilica B at Philippi: the Building Phases of an Incomplete Church. In: Korres, M. and Mamaloukos, S. eds. ΗΡΩΣ ΚΤΙΣΤΗΣ MNHMH ΧΑΡΑΛΑΜΠΟΥ ΜΠΟΥΡΑ. Athens: Melissa Publishing House.
    The Early Byzantine church known as 'Basilica B' at Philippi constitutes one of the rare Greek manifestations of the architectural type of the ‘domed basilica’, a type that plays a major role in the development of Byzantine church architecture. Considered to have started in the first half of the sixth century, the building was probably never completed: as Paul Lemerle demonstrated in 1945, the collapse of the vaults during construction must have brought a premature end to the history of this building. Lemerle attributed this collapse to a defective structure: walls and supports failed to provide sufficient support for the vaults. However, Lemerle and other scholars remain silent as to the reasons why such an ambitious building programme was to be marred by such a structural deficiency. The present paper seeks to fill this lacuna. Based on a new interpretation of overlooked construction details, it provides new evidence for a previously unknown building phase. Challenging Lemerle’s perception of Basilica B as a static architectural form, this study reveals older constructional layers indicative of a more complex building history. Our new knowledge of this history helps to interpret the difficulties and limitations that the architects of Basilica B encountered in their effort to construct one of the first domed basilicas in Early Byzantine Greece.
  • Karydis, N. (2015). Learning from the Vernacular Building Systems of the East Aegean: Traditional Examples of Durable Construction in a Seismic Region. In: Economakis, R. ed. Durability in Construction: Tradition and Sustainability in 21st Century Architecture. Winterbourne, UK: Papadakis, pp. 68-82. Available at: http://papadakis.net/books/durability-in-construction-tradition-and-sustainability-in-21st-century-architecture/.
    The discovery of an unexplored traditional building system in the east Aegean expands our knowledge of durable historic construction in this earthquake prone area. Characterised by the combination of solid stone masonry and timber frame, this building system resembles earthquake-resistant construction recorded in Calabria, in Italy, and on the island of Leukada, in Greece. Its particularity, the existence of two autonomous load-bearing systems, as well as the use of extensive timber reinforcement improves the ability of structures to endure earthquakes, a phenomenon which is particularly intense and frequent in the region. This paper represents the first attempt to analyse this system and to evaluate its potential to inform the development of durable construction in earthquake prone areas.
  • Karydis, N. (2014). Early Byzantine Architecture. In: Jones, D. ed. Architecture, the Whole Story. London: Thames & Hudson, pp. 82-91. Available at: http://www.thamesandhudson.com/Architecture_The_Whole_Story/9780500291481.
  • Karydis, N. (2013). Different Approaches to an Early Byzantine Monument: Procopius and Ibn Battuta on the Church of St. John at Ephesus. In: Experiencing Byzantium. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, pp. 89-110. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Experiencing-Byzantium-Papers-from-the-44th-Spring-Symposium-of-Byzantine/Nesbitt-Jackson/p/book/9781472412294.
    Written records on the 6th century church of St. John at Ephesos echo the role of the monument as the “heart” of medieval Ephesos, and one of the most important pilgrimage churches in Asia Minor. Starting with the 6th century report by Procopius and ending with the 14th century account by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, this series of documents spans the greater part of Byzantine history. However, their use in the visualization of the church, which now lies in ruins, has long been problematic (H. Hörmann, 1951). Indeed, the puzzling inconsistencies and enormous differences between the few descriptions included in these records have hindered their use as evidence for reconstruction. What Procopius described as the Ephesian counterpart to Justinian’s church of the holy Apostles in Costantinople, was viewed by Ibn Battuta as a building including elements typical of Moorish Andalusia and Morocco. The recent graphic reconstructions of the monument (A. Thiel 2005, N. Karydis 2010) offer the opportunity to revisit historic descriptions in a new light, establishing what is real and what is distorted in them. The interpretation of the erratic parts of these descriptions is not only essential for the visualization of the monument but also for our understanding of their authors themselves. It reveals the influence of different cultural backgrounds in the perception of the great pilgrimage church, and reflects the changes in the ways in which Byzantine architectural heritage was understood during the Middle Ages.

Conference or workshop item

  • Karydis, N. (2015). The Lost Port of Rome: Vedute by Dutch and Flemish Artists as Evidence for the Reconstruction of the Ripa Grande. In: Water Management in Italy from Antiquity through the Early Modern Period. Rome, Italy: Royal Netherlands Institute. Available at: http://www.knir.it/en/category-onderzoek/655-water-management-in-italy-from-antiquity-through-the-early-modern-period.html.
    The remodelling of the port of Ripa Grande from the late 17th to the early 18th century remains one of the most obscure aspects of the urban history of Rome. This port disappeared during the construction of the Lungotevere, the giant roadways running along the riverfront, from 1876 onwards. This loss complicates our attempts to visualise the Ripa Grande, one of the main entrances to the heart of the city during the Baroque period. The topographical paintings and engravings of Gaspar Van Wittel, Hendrik Frans Van Lint and Lieven Cruyl can help to recapture some elements of the design of this port. Characterised by an acute observation of the way in which the city meets the water, these vedute have often been used to investigate the topography of the Tiber during a time when the connection between city and river was changing (D’Onofrio, 1970; Segarra Lagunes, 2004). However, scholars have not fully evaluated the role of these documents as evidence for the architectural evolution of the main port of Rome, the Ripa Grande. This paper aims to fill this lacuna. Investigating these vedute through the lens of the architect helps to extract information about the physical form of the port and its development during the second half of the 17th century. This examination focuses on the depiction of elements of the port such as docks, quays, ramps, and staircases. It also observes the buildings around the port, such as customs houses, shops, institutions, churches and towers. This investigation reveals details about the design and the evolution of the port that had not been noticed before. These are interpreted by reference to the maps of Tempesta (1591), Falda (late 17th century editions) and Nolli (1748). The combined examination of maps and paintings helps to produce new reconstructed plans of the port. The latter provide new insights into the evolution of port construction in Rome during the late Baroque period.
  • Karydis, N. (2014). Reshaping Rome’s riverfront: the development of urban spaces along the east bank of the Tiber from the 16th to the early 18th century. In: Riverine Conference. Available at: https://www.kent.ac.uk/architecture/conference/2014/riverine/index.html.
    The urban development of Rome during the Renaissance and the Baroque period had a major influence on the relationship between the city and the river. One of the most important aspects of this development was the radical modification of a series of urban spaces on the east riverbank of the Tiber. This involved the creation, mostly following Papal initiatives, of a series of large squares directly connected with the river, and associated with major bridges and ports. These riverside spaces seem to have played an important role as nodes in Rome’s urban tissue. Indeed, they were lined with major new public buildings and formed the focal points of newly created streets. The latter connected the new riverfront with the major sites of the city.

    In spite of its importance, the development of these riverside squares has not been sufficiently investigated, and, as a result, their role in shaping the ‘image’ of Baroque Rome has been overlooked. The general studies devoted to the urban interventions of the Popes, like the ones of A. Ceen (1977), Ch. L. Frommel (1986), and G. Simoncini (2008), occasionally refer to fragments of the city’s riverfront, but fail to address the combined impact of the riverside squares on the relationship between city and river. More detailed studies, such as the one of H. Günther (1984), provide information about the history and phases of certain riverside squares, but seldom analyse their spatial characteristics in detail. One of the reasons for this is that none of these spaces survives today: all of them were sacrificed during the construction of the Lungotevere, the new embankment built between 1876 and 1926. Although a variety of written records, drawings, and engravings provide ample evidence for the form of the ‘lost’ squares, the potential of these resources as evidence for graphic reconstruction has not yet been fully evaluated. As long as our understanding of the original form and evolution of these squares remains incomplete it is very difficult to understand the design ideals that influenced the development of Rome’s riverfront during the High Renaissance and the Baroque periods.

    This paper seeks to fill this lacuna. Synthesising all the available evidence in our disposal, the paper will provide new graphic reconstructions of three major riverside spaces: Piazza S. Francesco, at the south end of Via Giulia, Piazza Ponte, opposite Castel S. Angelo, and the Ripetta Port. These spaces will be visualised in different stages of their development. The reconstructed square layouts will form the basis for the interpretation of the design strategies employed. Grounded by reference to contemporary theories of town-planning, this multifaceted study of Rome’s riverfront will provide interesting insights into the evolution of urban design concepts and their influence on the relationship between city and river from the 16th to the 17th century.
  • Karydis, N. (2014). The Architectural Evolution of the Church of St. Mary at Ephesos from late Antiquity through the Transitional Period. In: Transforming Sacred Spaces: New Approaches to Byzantine Ecclesiastical Architecture from the Transitional Period.
  • Karydis, N. (2014). Architectural Allegories of Vice and Virtue in the Work of Étienne Louis Boullée and Claude Nicholas Ledoux. In: Virtue and the Enlightenment.
    Late in their careers, Ledoux and Boullée developed a series of visionary projects that symbolised the morals of a utopian society. This involved the translation of the idea of virtue into architectural form. The design methods used to achieve this enriched the 18th-century architectural vocabulary, widening its mission and impact. The current paper analyses these design methods and interprets the symbolic language they produced, by reference to its social and political background. This analysis provides new insights into one of the most influential architectural developments of the Age of Enlightenment.
  • Karydis, N. (2013). The Collapse of Basilica B at Philippi, and the development of vaulted architecture in Early Byzantine Greece. In: 46th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Byzantine Greece: Microcosm of Empire?. Available at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/bomgs/events/2013/byzantine-greece-microcosm-empire-symposium.aspx.
    The massive Early Byzantine church known as 'Basilica B' at Philippi constitutes one of the rare Greek manifestations of the architectural type of the ‘domed basilica’, a type that plays a major role in the development of Byzantine church architecture. Considered to have started in the first half of the sixth century, the building was never completed: as Paul Lemerle showed in 1945, a collapse of the vaults during construction brought a premature end to the history of the domed basilica. Lemerle attributed this collapse to a defective structure. Indeed, one can easily tell that the walls and supports of the monument do not provide sufficient support for the vaults. The reasons why the architects of such an ambitious building programme committed such childish errors remain obscure.

    The present paper fills this lacuna. Investigating overlooked construction details, it provides new evidence for a previously unknown building phase. Challenging Lemerle’s perception of Basilica B as a static architectural form, this study reveals older constructional layers indicative of a more complex building history. Our new knowledge of this history helps to find the reasons why the architects of Basilica B failed to come up with a robust structure. Understanding the building history of this singular church also sheds light on the conditions of the emergence of a new architectural type in Early Byzantine Greece. Comparing the phases of Building B at Philippi with the ones of contemporary monuments, this paper illuminates a the development of vaulted church architecture in Greece.
  • Karydis, N. (2012). The Church of St. Mary at Ephesos: Retracing the Phases of Construction. In: 7th International RCAC Annual Symposium: Ephesos from Late Antiquity to the Later Middle Ages. Available at: http://webtest.ku.edu.tr/sites/rcac.ku.edu.tr/files/banners/RCAC%202012_%207th%20Annual%20Syposium%20Program.pdf.
    The building history of the church of St. Mary at Ephesos is evocative of both change and continuity. Some aspects of the monument enjoyed a remarkable longevity, making it one of the rare ‘golden threads’ that connect Late Antique and Medieval Ephesos. On the other hand, the same building displays all the characteristics of an architectural palimpsest. In its millennial history from the Roman origins to a presumed destruction after the eleventh century, the monument’s site was repeatedly modified. As a result, today’s explorer of the significant archaeological remains of St. Mary’s is confronted with the overlapping layers of walls and supports that fail to form a coherent picture. Although major parts of the church have been excavated and surveyed, the question concerning the date and form of its phases remains open. The present paper will attempt to shed new light on the early phases of the church. It studies they the fifth-century transformation of a major Roman building into an Early Christian basilica and the subsequent reconstruction of part of this basilica as a domed church. This paper does not present new archaeological evidence. It is rather based on the realisation that some of the evidence that has already been published has either been misinterpreted or overlooked. The aim of the paper is to review, synthesise and reinterpret all the evidence published since the 1930s. Grouped together for the first time, and interpreted from an architectural standpoint, these clues provide new insights into the history of the monument.
  • Karydis, N. (2012). Limiting the Use of Centering in Vaulted Construction: The Early Byzantine Churches of West Asia Minor. In: 2012 Center for Ancient Studies Symposium: Masons at Work. University of Pennsylvania, pp. 1-19. Available at: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/ancient/files/Masons_third_circular.pdf.
    The break with the tradition of the timber-roof basilica and the passage to vaulted construction has been one of the most intriguing developments of the Early Byzantine period. A crucial question concerning this development regards the degree to which the emergent vaulting technology required the use of centering. The recent graphic reconstruction of a series of Early Byzantine churches in west Asia Minor, such as St. John and St. Mary at Ephesos, Building D at Sardis, and St. John at Philadelphia sheds new light on this problem. The study of the exposed inner layers of these dilapidated monuments makes it possible to visualize their vault structure in detail. Reconstruction reveals a wide variety of vault forms and brick patterns characterized by the setting of bricks in corbelled, ‘pitched’ or ‘arched’ brick courses. This paper investigates the degree to which these techniques can be attributed to the need to limit the use of timber formwork. The author also explores the origins of these techniques and the duration of their use. A wide range of later monuments suggests that these seemingly idiomatic building techniques developed into a building tradition with a lasting influence on church architecture in the region.
  • Karydis, N. (2010). Breaking with the Tradition of the Timber Roof Basilica: New Evidence for the Reconstruction of St. John at Ephesus. In: XLIII Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies. Byzantium Behind the Scenes: Power and Subversion. Available at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/bomgs/events/2011/power-subversion.aspx.
    The fragmentary nature of the remains of St. John the Theologian at Ephesus makes the reconstruction of this major 6th century monument particularly difficult. In spite of several efforts to visualise Justinian’s church (H. Hörmann (1951), A. Thiel (2005)), no conclusive evidence for the original form of its vaults has been found. My approach to this problem concentrates on the recording of a series of previously unexplored fragments of vaulting. I demonstrate that the graphic investigation of these fragments, aided by interpretation on the basis of formal comparisons, has the potential to lead to the reasoned reconstruction of the complete superstructure. The importance of this newly discovered evidence is vital. The exploration of these fragments can form the basis for the understanding of the vault patterns and spatial concepts employed in one of the first churches in west Asia Minor to break with the tradition of the timber roof basilica.
  • Karydis, N. (2010). Building with the Relics of Antiquity – the Early Byzantine Use of Spolia in the Vaulted Churches of West Asia Minor. In: 15th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Student Colloquium: Past Histories & Afterlives of Medieval Art and Architecture. Available at: http://courtauld.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/EventsCalendarSpring2010_14jan10_1.pdf.
    The remains of the early Byzantine churches of west Asia Minor are real repositories
    of reused Classical, Hellenistic and Roman Architectural elements, which often have a
    delicate sculptural ornamentation. Omnipresent in the vaulted basilicas of Ephesus, Sardis,
    and Priene, reused elements have the potential to give information about early Byzantine
    construction technology and attitudes towards architectural heritage.

    The realisation of this potential has led to attempts to interpret the use of spolia on
    ideological and symbolic grounds (R. Cormack, 1990, R. Ousterhout, 1999). However, the
    study of the structural role of reused elements and the constructional reasons for their
    incorporation in early Byzantine church structures is still insufficient (I. Leggio, 2003).
    My documentation of the use of spolia in St. John and St. Mary at Ephesus, Building
    D at Sardis, and the basilicas of Priene and Pythagorion seeks to fill this lacuna. The
    investigation of the origins of spolia, as well as the study of the way in which antique
    architectural elements were incorporated in massive walls and supports, illuminates a crucial
    aspect of church construction in some of the most creative centres of the early Byzantine
    period (H. Buchwald, 1984).

    My research has revealed the co-existence of two general attitudes towards the reuse
    of architectural elements. The first championed the skilful integration of spolia into the new
    structure according to their original nature and role. This sometimes led to strong
    architectural statements that emphasized historical continuity. However, such uses of spolia
    were quite rare. The most frequent attitude was profoundly utilitarian: it ignored the age
    value and form of antique elements, attributing to them no greater attention than the one
    given to any stone block, old or new.
  • Karydis, N. (2008). Traditional Earthquake-resistant Construction in the East Aegean Sea: The Case of Eresos and Pergamon. In: 3rd National Conference of Antiseismic Engineering and Technical Seismology, Greece. Available at: http://library.tee.gr/digital/m2368/m2368_contents.htm.
    The author investigates previously unknown, anti-seismic construction systems used
    at vernacular buildings of the settlements of Eresos, in the island of Lesvos, in the east of Greece,
    and in the settlement of Bergama, in the western coast of Turkey. The buildings examined employ
    techniques that differ significantly from conventional traditional building practice in the area. This
    building system resembles traditional anti-seismic structures of the Mediterranean like the ones of
    Calabria (Italy) and Leukada (Greece). Structures in Bergama and Eresos employ both
    autonomous masonry walls and timber frames with extensive ‘x’ bracing. During an earthquake,
    these frames could guarantee the stability of the roof in case of a partial collapse of the masonry
    structure. That building system seems to be based on advanced structural principles, such as the
    one of energy dissipation. It thus represents one of the earliest surviving architectural responses to
    earthquake danger in Greece and Turkey.


  • Karydis, N. (2015). Residence for D. Daskalopoulos in Platanos, Aigialeia, Greece: Planning Application. [PDF file - CD-Rom].


  • Karydis, N. (2013). Book Review: The Sacred Architecture of Byzantium. Church Archaeology 17:122-123.
  • Karydis, N. (2011). A Byzantine Outpost in the West. Sacred Architecture [Online] 20:28-29. Available at: http://www.sacredarchitecture.org/articles/byzantine_outpost_in_the_west.
  • Karydis, N. (2006). Book Review: Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction. The Structurist 45/46:119-123.


  • Karydis, N. (2020). Discovering the Byzantine Art of Building: Lectures at the RIBA, the Royal Academy and the London Architectural Society, 1843-58.
    British architects played a major role in the rediscovery of the Byzantine monuments of Greece in the late-19th and the early-20th century. Although the work of these architects is being investigated, its mid-19th century origins remain obscure. This topic has so far been dominated by the belief that, in this early period, British architects had limited interest in Byzantium. Yet, four lectures, read at the R.I.B.A., the Royal Academy, and the London Architectural Society from 1843 to 1857, challenge this view, reflecting a lively interest in Byzantine church architecture and its potential to inspire new design. Delivered by Charles Robert Cockerell (1843), Edwin Nash (1847), Thomas Leverton Donaldson (1853), and John Louis Petit (1857), these lectures constitute some of the earliest attempts in England to explore Byzantine architecture. The current paper investigates the manuscript records of these lectures in the archives of the R.I.B.A. These documents reveal an extensive understanding of Byzantine Architecture. Mentioning a plethora of churches in Greece, they reflect an interest in the structure of Byzantine monuments. Viewing these monuments through the lens of the builder emphasised their potential to inform new design, paving the way for the Byzantine Revival, half a century later. These authoritative lectures also prepared the conditions for the subsequent study of Byzantine architecture; they helped to form the cultural environment that favoured the systematic investigation of Byzantine architecture by British scholars from late-19th century onwards.
  • Karydis, N. (2019). The Revival of Classical Architecture in Athens, 1830-1840: Educational Institutions designed by Christian Hansen and Stamatios Kleanthis. In: Routledge Handbook on the Reception of Classical Architecture. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
    This paper examines the design of educational institutions in Athens and its vicinity during the first decade following Greek Independence. The revival of ancient architectural forms played a key role in this development. Still, the selection of ancient models and their fusion with nineteenth-century design paradigms have not yet been studied sufficiently. The present article aims to fill this lacuna by focusing on the educational institutions designed by two major architects of the 1830s: Christian Hansen and Stamatios Kleanthis. These buildings are used as case studies to understand each architect’s choice and modern interpretation of ancient models. This helps to gain a better sense of the variety of architectural idioms that marked the reception of classical architectural canons in nineteenth-century Greece.
  • Karydis, N. (2016). The Lost Gateway of Early Modern Rome: The Development of the Port of Ripa Grande from the 16th to the 18th century. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.
    This article explores the development of the Ripa Grande, the main river port of Rome during the Early Modern period. This port was destroyed in the 19th century. The present study reconstructs its lost phases on the basis of vedutte drawn from the 15th to the 18th century. Comparative analysis of an unprecedented number of engravings, drawings and paintings and their interpretation by reference to coeval maps help to retrace the transformations of the port through time. Reconstructed plans and axonometric drawings make it possible to investigate the spatial organisation of the port and the design principles that informed its remodelling. Reconstruction also provides a closer look to key port buildings, such as the Ospizio di San Michele. The latter is analyzed within the context of institutional architecture in European river ports. This methodology sheds new light on a highly significant if highly neglected aspect of the urban development of Rome in the Early Modern period.
  • Karydis, N. (2016). Justinian’s Church of the Holy Apostles: a New Reconstruction Proposal. In: The Holy Apostles - Visualising a Lost Monument. Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University Press.
    With his remodelling of the church of the Holy Apostles, Justinian left his mark on the burial place of the Byzantine Emperors for almost a millennium. A major landmark of Constantinople, Justinian’s Apostoleion was one of the earliest cruciform domed churches and provided the model for numerous foundations with Apostolic dedications. Although the church was demolished after the Ottoman conquest, it was immortalized in a series of textual records, including the sixth-century account of Prokopios, and the poetic descriptions of Constantine of Rhodes (10th century) and Nikolaos Mesarites (12th century). Interpreting these sources helps to recapture aspects of this seminal building. But the evidence in our disposal is not only textual. Indeed, Prokopios’ claim that Justinian’s church of St. John at Ephesos was identical to the church of the Holy Apostles (Buildings V. i. 6) suggests that the former helps to understand how the Constantinopolitan church looked like. Further insights about the church of the Holy Apostles can be drawn from the basilica of San Marco in Venice, which seems to follow a similar architectural pattern. Enhancing our understanding of one of the most sophisticated vaulted churches of Constantinople, this paper helps to gain a better sense of the development of vaulted church architecture in the Early Byzantine period.
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