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triforium(trīfôr`ēəm), in church architecture, an arcaded gallery above the arches of the nave. In the interiors of medieval churches each bay of the nave wall customarily had three divisions in its height—arcade, triforium, and clerestory. The triforium was thus located beneath the clerestory windows and above the side-aisle vaults and corresponded on the exterior to the lean-to roof over the aisle. In Italian basilical churches this interior surface was generally decorated with paintings or mosaics. In the north the triforium had arched openings with apertures in the wall behind it to ventilate the roof space over the aisle. In most Romanesque churches it appeared as a second-story vaulted gallery over the aisle and was equal to it in depth and sometimes also in height. In Gothic churches, the depth behind the triforium arcades was generally limited to the thickness of the nave wall, into which a narrow passageway was built to furnish a second-story circulation around the church. Developed French Gothic flattened the pitch of the aisle roofs, thus leaving the outside wall of the triforia exposed and free for glazing. The inside face retained its rich open tracery arcades. Late Gothic subordinated the triforium between the higher main arcades and clerestory and sometimes omitted it entirely.
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The space above the vaulting, below the roof, and under the clerestory windows, on the side aisle of a church; typically containing three arched openings in each bay forming an arcade into the nave space.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
In medieval church architecture, a shallow passage above the arches of the nave and choir and below the clerestory; characteristically opened into the nave.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.