Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972


Moskaeva A.S. 1 Kochevа E.A. 1 Smirnova E.V. 1
1 Nizhny Novgorod State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering
1. MDS 31-9.2003. Orthodox churches. B. 2. Orthodox churches and complexes. – Intod. 2003-01-01. – M.: Arhhram, 2003. – 182 p.: Ill.
2. Kochev A.G. Climate of the Orthodox churches: monograph; Nizhegor. state. arhitektur.-building. Univ. – Nizhniy Novgorod: NNGASU, 2004. – 449 p.: Ill.
3. Kochev A.G., Moskaeva A.S., Kocheva E.A., Martynov A.A. STUDY problems of thermal stability of walling orthodox churches // Modern high technologies. – 2015. – № 8. – Р. 36–40; URL:

Russian Orthodox churches are unique architectural structures, amazing by their beauty with a long history of the establishment. Some of them were constructed in the middle ages. Great masterpieces of the architects, the past masters, sometimes had been created for more than several decades and every detail of the temple has a deep meaning and significance. Volumetric layout design of the temples is necessary to analyze the design features for the engineering systems to establish and maintain the required indoor microclimate characteristics in the buildings for public worship.

The main feature of temple construction art and creativity is the necessity to follow the canonical church requirements, based on the Orthodox dogma and tradition [1].

Orthodox churches can be divided into several groups, depending on the differences related with the functional features of the temples, their types, volumetric layout design, wall materials and the capacity.

By a capacity the parish churches are divided into the following types: small size churches, with the area of the middle part from 25 to 90 m2 with a capacity from 60 to 600 people; middle size temples, with the area of the middle part from 90 to 250 m2 with a capacity from 300 to 300 people; large size parish churches, with the area of the middle part from 250 to 500 m2 with a capacity from 600 to 1,500 people; very large parish churches, with the area of the middle part of more than 500 m2 and a capacity of more than 1,500 people [2].

There are several types of the temples: cross-domical, central- domical church, basilica, pillar-shaped. According to the functional features the temples are divided into: cathedrals, temples, monasteries, parish, manor, cemetery, tombs, monuments, home churches, temples at the public institutions (schools, nurseries, prisons) and chapels. Basic constructions of temples are shown in Table.

Construction of temples

Construction Scheme




1. Cross-domical summer temples

Cross-domical cathedrals having six internal pillars


Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral of the XVIII century. Nizhny Novgorod

Constructive basis is the span or three-span arch-rack systems. Exterior walls are a key stiffening component. In the temples with six internal pillars bearing is carried out on the four eastern pillars

Monastery temples having four internal pillars

2. Temples having two pillars

Temples having two pillars


Transfiguration Cathedral in from Purekh Chkalovsky district Nizhny Novgorod Region

The system of three parallel barrel vaults was used in the overhead cover. They were supported by 2 pairs supporting arches which were moved from the pillars on the eastern and western walls. They can be symmetric and asymmetric. In symmetric system there is a big light cylinder, which is located in the centre. It is supported by the pendentive on the borders edges of the light cutout. In asymmetric system the light cylinder is above the eastern central cell and supported by the eastern and central supporting arches and partially on the tetrahedron eastern wall



Pillarsless temples

Pillarsless overhead covers became widespread as a simple or steeped cylinder vaults which were supported by the lengthway walls in the XV–XVI centuries. Since XVI c. the crossed vaults were used for the small sized overhead covers. They represented the combination of 2 pairs crossed cylindric arches, bearing light cylinder, with the corner parts of the cloister vault

Pillar shaped temples

Distinguished by the hard centre and almost complete symmetry

Steepled temples

There are two types of constructions. The first typeuses the method of complitness of the tetrahedron by the open inside tent. In the second type the tent functioned only as a decorative element and was put on the cloistered four-chuted vault covering the tetrahedron

Temples with no pillars and cloistered vault


Church Holly Myrrhbearers, Nizhny Novgorod

One of the methods of ending is five-domed. It represents the imitation of the forms of the temples having four pillars. The other way is to end the tetrahedron as a hillock of kokoshniks. Often such temples were ended with one hollow or light dome

Parish churches «ship-sized»


Church of Elijah the Prophet, Nizhny Novgorod

While constructing the parish churches the compositional methods were widely used. Along with the asymmetric groups of churches, the churches with the lengthway axial symmetry began to appear. The main volumes were put along one axe from east to west

3. Types of church buildings with complex composition

Churches with Г-shaped and T-shaped planning

The room of the warm church which was adjaicent to the back wall of the cold church was becoming larger in the lengthway size by the means of setting the side chapels with the altar apses

The basic materials for the walls of the temples are: boulder, white stone, brick and wood. The form of the temple can be quite diverse.

To intensify the aeration the architects applied the principles of aerodynamics. Here we are considering the increasing of the airflow with the help of outside and inside the streamlined forms of the structure such as: kokoshnik, barrel, tent.

Nowadays during the reconstruction and construction of the temples, special attention should be paid to ensure the required parameters of the microclimate. To provide the Orthodox churches comfort, reduce heat loss and increase the duration of operation and maintenance period of the building envelope it is necessary to design heating and ventilation systems.

When designing the ventilation systems in the prayer halls of the Orthodox churches the preference should be given to the natural ventilation systems. However, for the design of natural ventilation systems the factors that affect the internal and external aerodynamics of the Orthodox churches should be taken into account. One of these factors to make the heat balance of the prayer`s hall is the consumption of the church candles in an Orthodox church.

In comparison with the mechanical ventilation systems the natural ventilation systems do not consume electrical energy, require less maintenance costs and installation due to the self-regulation, and changes in the difference between the balance of supply and discharge t air heat we can achieve the heat savings from 20 to 50 % [2].

In conclusion it should be noted that the forms of the temples significantly affect the uniformity of airflow inside the temple, which requires the carrying out the research work in order to provide the required parameters of the microclimate in the temple [3].