Andrea Palladio villa rotonda

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Information about Andrea Palladio villa rotonda

Published on March 10, 2014

Author: altamashbhambro


Introduction Palladio was born on November 30, 1508 in Padua and was given the name, Andrea Di Pietro della Gondola.[ His father, Pietro, called "Della Gondola", was a miller. From early on, Andrea Palladio was introduced into the work of building. In Padua he gained his first experiences as a stonecutter in the sculpture workshop of Bartolomeo Cavazza da Sossano, who is said to have imposed particularly hard working conditions. At the age of sixteen he moved to Vicenza where he would reside for most of his life. Here he became an assistant in the Pedemuro studio, a leading workshop of stonecutters and masons. He joined a guild of stonemasons and bricklayers. He was employed as a stonemason to make monuments and decorative sculptures

Working style Palladianism, style of architecture based on the writings and buildings of the humanist and theorist from Vicenza, Andrea Palladio (1508–80), perhaps the greatest architect of the latter 16th century and certainly the most influential. Palladio felt that architecture should be governed by reason and by the principles of classical antiquity as it was known in surviving buildings and in the writings of the 1st-century-BC architect and theorist Vitruvius. Palladianism bespeaks rationality in its clarity, order, and symmetry, while it also pays homage to antiquity in its use of classical forms and decorative motifs. Few architects beyond Palladio’s immediate disciple Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552–1616) were interested in pursuing the most erudite aspect of Palladio’s work—his investigation of harmonic proportions—and in the hands of all too many followers of the next two centuries, Palladianism tended to become a sterile academic formula devoid of Palladio’s own forcefulness and poetry.

Fig. 1. Palladio’s drawing of the Rotonda in the Quattro Libri Dell’Architettura(Plate of page 19, Libro Secondo). In the elevation, the two windows of the loggia at the piano nobile indicate this is a lateral view of the plan, not the frontal one as thedrawing arrangement suggests

In plate number 19 in the Quattro libri (fig. 1), the thickness of the walls and theheight of the central vault are not indicated; only the proportions of the rooms are given.The height of the columns of the loggias is indicated, but their diameters, which is important for verifying the 12 x 30 f proportions of the loggias, as we will see shortly. In the same plate, we see how the central intercolumniation appears slightly larger than the others, suggesting an arrangement in accordance with the precepts of eustyle and diastyle. Obviously, it would take much more than a single plate to accurately depict the architectural elements of the loggias alone, not to mention the many more needed to render the whole building. It seems that Palladio was more interested in justifying the motivation for his design for the loggias1 than he was in explaining the geometrical layout in detail. Palladio devoted his first book to a detailed description of the classical styles (toscano,dorico, ionico, corinthio, composito), so perhaps for this reason he did not feel compelled to do the same for his own works; after all they can be inferred from the orders.

There are no descriptions at all of how his buildings were built, nor are working drawing for this purpose included, if any were indeed ever elaborated. It seems obvious that the stonemasons required some sort of drawings to carve the capitals and the stone frames for the doors and windows, to shape the entasis of the columns, and the moldings of the pediments. In other words, the challenging question here is how Palladio managed the geometry of his buildings during construction, to which we have no answer. It seems that Palladio wanted us to learn the ideals from his treatise and the reality from his works, leaving our imagination to bridge the gap between his theory and practice. The perspective analysis I am proposing here intends to bridge, in part, that gap.

Fig. 2. (A through H ). Squares within squares. Drawings by Ambar Hernández and author

Squares within squares The geometry of the square seems to rule the configuration of the Rotonda’s plan, since several imaginary squares can be identified in a concentric position alternating with othersquares , which are rotated 45° from the main plan. I discussed this particular feature in a previous article, showing how these squares relate to one another, from the stairways to thenucleus of the building [2004]. Based on this approach, here I will describe its spatialmeaning to link it with the discussion in the next section. Thus, to proceed in an orderly fashion, I will refer first to the analysis of the plan, and later to its volumetric interpretation in perspective. As can be noticed in fig. 2 (A through H ), the arrangement of the plan has mirror symmetry along both the longitudinal and the transversal axes. We had to assume a hypothetical value for the thickness of the walls to redraw the plan, since Palladio’s drawing lacks this data. Lawrence Sass has estimated the wall thicknesses to be 18 inches at the piano nobile [Sass n.d.: 8]; according to my calculations equals approximately 1-1/4 f, almost the same as the dimension estimated by Sass, although the surrounding walls could be thicker, as much as 1½ f. The sequence of the squares A-B-C can help us understand the spatial integration between the villa and its environment (see fig. 2, A, B, C ). We will begin by demarcating the ground plan at the four stairways as square A. This square has a spatial meaning that is not easy to grasp until one surveys the villa from different vantage points, wondering why it looks bigger than it actually is. This is followed by Square B surrounding the projecting loggias of the building that characterize its unique formal expression. Square C integrates the composition of the whole toward which the invisible squares A and B converges.

Fig. 4. A view from the northwest façade showing the windows’ proportions as deduced in perspective. Photograph and superimposed drawing by the author

It appears more likely that the width of windows (a) and (b), and thus the fireplace in between of them, was proportioned along the large wall of the main room from its interior side; while the wrought-iron lattice of the window (b) run parallel to its diagonals.2 In its turn, window (c) was put at the middle of the shortest wall in the same manner. This procedure may have been foreseen, since the walls of the piano terra were raised. In contrast, the heights of the windows seem to have been proportioned from the exterior, otherwise they would align with the lintel of the interior doors, below the halfway line of the building’s height. The window sill also aligns with the lateral arch seat, as the grid makes evident. Once again, in fig. 4, if window (a) were placed above the crossing diagonals of this wall, then the human scale would be compromised, suggesting that onlygiant people could live there, and on the other hand, if it were placed below this diagonal,then the piano nobile would appear higher, suggesting that a window is missing, or that anentire floor is hidden. It would have simply been disastrous to give 1/8 of the wall’s heightabove, or below its diagonals to set the window’s height. Therefore, the intersection point of the diagonals is the one that strikes the perfect balance between the window and the wall, or delle parti fra loro, in Palladio’s terms.

Fig. 5. A view of the loggia’s arch from the northwest. Here, both the loggia’s lateral size of 12 f and the columns’ section of 2 f, were corroborated. The grid outlining makes the proportions among the parts comprehensible. Photograph and superimposed drawing by the author If Palladio had not conceived a new architectural program for the villas, exploiting the the piano terra to free the piano nobile from the unsightly service spaces, and to avoid humidity as well, then you would not be reading this paper. The piano terra was precisely the key to raising the villa from the ground, making it appear more graceful from afar, while permitting a magnificent view of the landscape from the loggias.3 The incremented width of the central intercolumniation of the loggias makes the building appear more dynamic when one walks toward the stairs, while framing the access door at the same time; the lateral windows of the piano nobile appear centered in their walls (see fig. 6).

Fig. 7a. Here, a grid equally divided vertically in 30 f representing the colonnade sequence (4 ¼ + 2 + 4 ¼ + 2 + 5 + 2 + 4 ¼ + 2 + 4 ¼ = 30 f ) along its transversal axis; does not visually fit with the columns’ intercolumniation

Fig. 7b. Now, a grid equally divided vertically in 34 f

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