Biography. John James is an Australian architect and medieval historian with a passion for discovery, often in an unorthodox manner. For forty years he has been searching for the origins of the Gothic style, beginning with a five-year study of Chartres cathedral. At that time there were no coherent techniques for analysing the detailed construction history of existing stone structures. These he created and called Toichology. He expanded his research to include all the early Gothic churches in the Paris region with a three-year survey of over 3500 buildings.
He discovered that every church of this period was constructed in many short campaigns by mobile building teams, and that major innovation was as likely to occur in the smaller buildings as in the larger. In seeking ways to date the major buildings of the 1050-1250 period, he found that changing style of foliate carving could provide a consistent basis for a chronology. This is now being published in The Creation of Gothic Architecture an Illustrated Thesaurus: The Ark of God. He recently received the Order of Australia Medal and the American Institute of Architect’s Honour for Collaborative Achievement for his research on Gothic architecture.