The Villa as Paradigm

Author(s): James Ackerman
Source: Perspecta, Vol. 22, Paradigms of Architecture (1986), pp. 10-31
Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta.
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The Villa as Paradigm James Ackerman

when it is sustained by agriculture.designed for its owner'senjoymentand relaxation.and its economic situation is that of a satellite (fig. Some colonial agriculturalcenters-such as those in Gaul. The villa of the EmperorHadrianat Tivoli is the paradigmof this hybrid form. and the twentiethcentury throughoutthe West) and has declined with urbandecline . The villa accommodatesa fantasy impervious to reality. responding to the perceived needs of the city dweller. Britain. The villa is therefore unique as a paradigm. Because it is not materialbut psychological and ideological. Italy 1 Introduction A villa is a building in the country-or at least outside the city .The villa has remainedsubstantiallythe same because it fulfills a need that never alters. typically the productof an architect'simagination.the villa may be justified by urbancenters' need for the surplus it will produce.the natureof manufacturehave changed. Since it was first fixed by the patriciansof ancientRome. But this generalizationis invalid for two moments in Westernhistory: the apogee of the republican city-statein classical Greece and the communes of central Europe and Italy in the period 1000-1300. and their dependenceon the institution of slavery was due in partto their isolation. rooted in bourgeois ideology but. this need is not subjectto the influences of evolving societies and technologies. villa culturehas thrivedin periods of metropolitangrowth (as was true in ancientRome. importingthe values of urbanculture.other architectural types. frequentlyand often radically. to the point of extinction as urbanlife witheredfrom the fifth to the eleventh century in the West. the place of worship. have been able to afford a villa (at least until the nineteenthcentury). The villa cannot be understoodapartfrom the city. Perhapsin these moments of communalidealism those whom the political institutionsmost benefitedfelt no need to escape the city. While only persons of wealth. the basic programof the villa has remainedunchangedfor more than two thousandyears. 1). The villa.or. the characterof the liturgy. The villa may be built and supportedwith monetary surplusesgeneratedby urban commerce and industry. and Africa in Roman times and in the southernUnited States in pre-Revolutionarytimes -were established in areas almost devoid of urbandevelopment and became in themselves industrial and culturalcenters. a villa estate differs from the farm.the pleasurefactor is what essentially distinguishesthis kind of residencefrom the farmhouse. it exists not to fulfill autonomous functions but as the antithesisto urban values and accommodations. The villas of kings and princes.indeed. built and supportedby public wealth. Consequentlythe fate of the villa has been intimatelytied to that of the city. the factory-have changed in form and purpose as the role of the ruler. and usually of prestige and power. Similarly. the idea of a country dwelling is a bourgeois concept.' The farmhousetends to be simple in structure and to perpetuateformal solutions that do not requirethe interventionof a designer. eighteenth-andnineteenthcentury Britain. by virtue of often unlimited economic means and the symbolic andrepresentationalrequirementsof supremepower. are essentially hybrids. Avezzano. As satellites. 11 . demanding a scale and an elegance in some degree antitheticalto the concept.Though a villa may also serve as the center of an agriculturalenterprise. or it may be that life in the country was still too rugged and unsafe for anyone not raised to endureits rigors. villas have not always been near the cities on which they depended.1 Roman relief showing town and suburban villa. They often grew to be large in scale. I shall exclude from what follows examples designed for rulers.the palace.asserts its modernity.

it is quintessentiallyideological. This impulse is generatedby psychological ratherthan utilitarianneeds. on the other hand.James.ultimately the early novel (the writings of were often decoratedwith ideal gardenand nant class reinforces andjustifies the social villa scenes. the farmerand the peasant. and peiian and other Campanianvillas the walls this sense as the means by which the domi. ideology. Varro. and House Beautiful in the mid. but ratheras referringto a large public. House and Garearly Empire-Cato. whetherpoor and oppressedor rich and independent.they accept it as a necessary and. den.for the stimulationand comforts of city life. These and other prolific periods in villa history were also markedby a literaturedevoted to the design and improvementof villas and their gardens. somewhat antipatheticcondition.and I use "ideology" not in the currentcollolater twentiethcentury. and there were those for whom it Major revivals of the villa from that of the fifteenth century in Italy to Le Corbusier was a primaryvocation. The city dweller. to designate a strongly held a revival of villa literature:in the fifteenth conviction. Indeed. in nineteenth-centuryAmervation from itself and others. concept or myth so firmly rooted in the century that of Poliziano and Bembo.2 have been able to expropriateruralland often requiringthe care of a laboringclass or of slaves for the realizationof the myth. In America. literaryworks have not ness in treatise writers of the Renaissance (Palladio immediately comes to mind). persons position privilege rooted in urbancommerce and industry . from have been explicitly justified by referenceto the time of The Horticulturalistin the the Roman writers of the late Republic and 1830s to Sunset Magazine. they have promotedvilla concepts de. The rathermuddledprescriptionsof ancient sing myths. more often than not. it is chiefly from this source Jane Austen seem obsessed with the propand economic structureand its privileged erty and status problems of urban-oriented that we know of the appearanceof the seaside pleasure residences of the type called position within it while obscuringits moticountry life). ings in late-medievalcountry castles but of it is a or ture. Horace. and Edith Wharton. anticiover the course of millenthroughwhich. nineteenthcentury was literally an industry in itself. In the folklore of all ages the country dweller longs. that of the Transcendentalists. Marxists interpretideology in Shaftesbury. in unconscious that it is held as an incontroPaintingalso bolsters the ideology.Vitruvius. The merely reflected the villa cultureof their time. In Pomeighteenth-centuryEnglandthat of vertible truth. has typically idealized country life and has sought to acquirea propertyfrom which it might be enjoyed if he could afford it.Henry villa marittima. pating the scenes of social gatherings.Virgil.source for the interpretationof the myth. Each villa revival has been accompaniedby nurtureof the suburbanvilla has attracteda quial sense.not only of architec.though possibly with some misgivings. the ideology of the villa in is reinforced authorsstimulateda particularinventiveevery epoch richly by poetry and prose. and outings on the walls of nia. In these terms ica.publicationin Englandof books on the villa from the early eighteenthto the midveloped in later times. and others.James Thompson. myth fantasy depicted the delights of country life. equally rich Because literatureis a primaryform expres.The Ideology of the Villa 2 12 Today. Tapestriesand wall paintthe villa is a paradigm. of whose is music parties. as in the past. do not as a rule regard country life as an idyllic state. instructionin the Pliny the Younger.

2). its popularitywas stimulatedby the visit of the distinguishedVenetiantopographicalpainter Canaletto(fig. though it admittedlygave prominenceto the great countryhouses of the landed aristocracy..t?. The same metamorphosisis traceablein Thomas Jefferson'sconcept of his farm at Monticello from the modest structureof the 1770s (itself surely influenced by the early Roman writers)to the lavish estate of the early nineteenthcentury (fig.. 3).. with its transitionfrom the simple and almost unadorned country residences of the fifteenth century in the Veneto to the elegance of Palladianvillas. musthave promotedbourgeois idealization of countrylife. the labor itself is seen as purifying him of the contaminationof the city. The expression is fully articulated in the literatureof RepublicanRome. where it evolves from an early protovillastage in the agriculturaltreatises of Cato and Varro into the typical matureform of Pliny the Younger'stwo lettersdescribingto a friend the pleasures of two of his numerousluxurious estates-one on the Tuscan seashore and one at Laurentiumoutside Rome. ?ri Ibr I!rl d classical landscape Seventeenth-century that of Claude particularly painting. 13 . Masir. Italy.. t (E! '110"'(8 1r )A in i Ei. the virtues and delights of the one being presentedas the antithesesof the vices and excesses of the other.The more modest ambitionsof the mid-nineteenthcentury suburbanvilla are reflectedin early Impressionistpaintings. especiallythose of Monet. the portraitof the country house.2 Fresco of a pleasure villa from Villa Barbaro. . A similarpatternof evolution is repeatedin the later provincial villa culture of ImperialRome.. 4). relatedto stoicism in its ascetic and moral tone..t. It I i Et Palladianvillas (fig. Lorrain.rose to prominencein the following centuryand fostered the aesthetic of the picturesqueand the informalEnglish garden. The early stage. Turnergot his startas a specialistin this genre which. by Paolo Veronese 3 "Badminton" by Antonio Canaletto h Cri h '-----??1 [?:cz?. advises the urbanman of affairs to acquire a modest farmhouseon a small country propertyand to cultivate it himself with little or no the end of the centurythe first Romanticvilla designers actuallytook the imaginarybuildings of the Roman Campagnain Lorrainpaintings as architectural models. ..?I le ?" 1111 The content of villa ideology is rooted in the contrastof country and city. Eighteenth-century Englandpioneeredin a new genre of painting.

the neighborsdo not come to call..fountains and similar relaxing places . Their domestic life is insertedinto a Vergilian dream. by means of the exercise that one can get in the villa on foot or horseback. since the rest of the time [the gentleman]passes there overseeing his possessions and in improving their potential with industryand with the skill of agriculture. 1 *-^'fefa^^^ TT* . it is always quiet and peaceful-advantages as great as the healthful situation and limpidair. so that they could easily pursue that blessed life so far as it may be achieved here below. ..4 And Le Corbusier. For besides the attractionswhichI have mentioned. conversationwith virtuousfriends and contemplation. gardens. where they might be visited by their virtuousfriends and relatives and where there were houses...the letter concludes with an encomium that clearly delineates the rural-urbanantithesis.. '\ H t _ .? l >> gw-f ^'t ]. none of those I broughtup with me. the body may more actively be made to preserve its health and robustness. stresses the importanceof the landscape setting: The inhabitantscome here because this rustic landscape goes well with countrylife. the greatest is the relaxation and carefree luxuryof the place .5 The same repertoryof the benefits of villa life echoes down the centuries:the practical advantagesof farming. . But the villa mansion is of no less utility and comfort [than the city house]. ? Af r +? 4 14 In describing the sumptuousTuscanvilla. '. A * rl X-' -. and delightfulviews of the landscape. Pliny set the tone for later writers. and there the spirit tired of the turmoilof the city may be greatly re- stored and consoled and may peacefully attend to the pursuit of letters and of contemplation. . too. my body by hunting.For this reason. . They survey their whole domainfrom the height of their jardin suspenduor from the four aspects of their fenetres en longeur. flourishes better here than elsewhere: I have never lost a retainer [slave?]. There also. My household. the ancient sages used often to retire to such places. I alwaysfeel energetic andfit for anythingat my Tuscan villa.writing to a client in the 1920s.3 About 1600 years later Palladiodescribes the same benefitsfrom the architect's perspective. . I exercise my mind by study.there is no need for a toga.. both mentallyand physically. the healthfulness providedby the air and exercise-particularly hunting-relaxation in reading. _.

often serving as substitutesfor towns.and in the case of agriculturalestablishments. all of the latter were dependenton the proprietorand his estate for their subsistenceduringmost of the historical span we are considering. Long after the feudal system had been forced into the backgroundby a money economy and by urbancapitalism. Pannonia. The grandervillas on the periphery of the RomanEmpire-in Gaul. Charlottesville." on the economic resourcesof the city. typically.the prestige of the aristocracyin Francewas such that.The social characterof the chateaudid not change substantiallyas the monarchygained in power. like the villa Anthee nearNaumurin of two villa falls into one Belgium (fig. Viollet-le-Duc's designs for country residences are called "chateaux"while CesarDaly's. Furthermore. Belgium Social and Economic Aspects 5 Le Corbusier'sreferenceto his client's "domain" remindsus that the villa is by nature the possession of the privileged and powerful class in society.some. Virginia. the landed nobility resisted abandoningcountrycastles in favor of villas. 1769.they providedgoods and services-including military service . well into the nineteenthcentury. containingcommunitybaths. proprietor'sdesired mode of life. the privilege has filtereddown to those of modest financialmeans. Thomas Jefferson Gallo-Roman Villa Anthee. for a lower social stratum. Colonial villas tend to differ in type and scale from those in the homeland. though at certaintimes in history. therefore. The situationis clearly delineated in France. The dwellings and their as conceived purely "per semplice diletto.a villa culture was slow to laborers (often supervisedby bailiffs) on still a third. this class had no reasonto develop a villa ideology until it became economically dependenton the city. they must functionas social and administrativeunits in themselves. The social structure of most of the villas we are considering involves the proprietorand his guests on one stratum.and he providedprotection against common enemies." a retreatand dependentfor its construcworkshopsof slaves and freedmenhave survived too selectively to permit a credible tion and maintenanceon surpluscapital of these settlements. had no reciprocalobligationtoward his retainers. categories: the self-sustainingagricultural The American colonies of the southernAtits for estate that yields not only produce lantic seaboardwere virtuallywithout any or own use but a surplusfor sale to urban nearby towns. Whetherfree or enslaved.are called "villas. and they could not breakthe serf-master bond without great risk. were small villages in Economically the themselves. The villa frequentlyappearsin a colonial context.servantson another. In those areas of the postmedievalwestern world in which the feudal system was most firmly established. where the competition for prefermentmade rustic retirementa risky option. where the formatof country life for the privileged classes derived from the feudal chateau. as in the mid-nineteenthcentury. where a powerfulempirecontrols distant territoriesfrom whose produceit gains sufficientprofitto offset the expense and burdenof providingdefense and communications. where the relation between the lord and his retainers was contractualand reciprocal. so that the estates had to regional marketssufficientto sustainthe accommodateall the communalfunctions. The owner. and the like-mostly built between the second and the fifth centuries. were more complex establishments than those on the Italianpeninsula. being isolated.4 5 Monticello. Their Roman ancestors. reconstruction The ideourban centers. near Naumur.bourgeois proprietorsmodeled theircountryresidences on the aristocrat'schateau. 5). however. economically dependenton the productionof their estates. and the as Battista Alberti villa described by Leone many included dependentsettlements. in earned normally and of city logical opposition country values is thus in part a responseto the dependence of the villa style of countrylife 15 .In this respect the villa differs fundamentallyfrom the feudal castle. drawing the aristocracyinto a dependent position at the court.

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The far-flungImperialvilla-settlements of Rome and the Americanplantationcenters had originally been sited in places suitable for communication.chosen an area more adapted to family farming on small freeholdproperties. Eventuallythe polarity in both the Romanand the American social and ethical attitudesbecame seeds of civil war. these considerationsencouragedthe growthof towns. 1850. Southernplantationmansions themselves were not designed to express autonomy from the mothercountry. as urbanizationincreased. while his American counterparttilled the land to survive. when the villa ideology became democratizedand accessible to the growing body of lower-middle-classcity dwellers. suburb.or countrywith 17 . furthermore. and they had establisheda society in which there were no slaves. The development was anticipatedin British villa literatureof the later eighteenthand early nineteenth centuries (most effectively by JohnClaudius Loudon in GreatBritainand by Alexander JacksonDavis andAndrewJacksonDowning in the United States).6 7 Drayton Hall.The fact that these settlershad to subduethe wildernessof a new land at great physical and financialrisk cementedtheir attachmentto the country life and architectural tastes of the British squire. or serfs to supporta gentlemanfarmeror to maintaina pleasurevilla. The absence of a comparablevilla development in the northernAtlanticcolonies is initially attributableto the differentsocial and political orientationof the colonists." "village. Ultimately the term "villa" came to be applied to any detachedor semidetached residence in city. which firstprovided model plans for small and inexpensive country houses. industrialization. refugees from church and class dominationat home." These were not the great metropolitancenters that grew up as administrative headquarters. had not attained positions of privilege and statuson which to reflect with nostalgia. 7).Cato. reversing the normal dependenceof the villa on the city. They had. peasants." from The Architecture of CountryHouses. which was to have had symmetricallyplaced outbuildingsconnected to the central block by Palladian quadrants.the effects of eighteenthcentury egalitariansocial philosophy. and architecturalsymbolism of a properideology. as we are remindedin the etymological linking of "villa. Once the villa had been presentedas a commodity." andthe French "ville. In the southernUnited States the domestic architectureof these towns retained some of the openness and ruralflavor of the villa-plantationresidence.6 The causes were complex: the rapidgrowth of central cities at the expense of the countryside. their owners. the majorityof whom.and another short step to its mass productionon the peripheryof great cities and ultimately of smaller ones. Romanticism.rail and trolley transportation.and others. North Carolina "Villa in the Italian Style. defense. eager to affirmtheir close ties to Britain. by Andrew Jackson Downing PORCH HALL DINING i'TCHIEN 1-6 x 16 b 6X21 LIeRARY 18 18 CL. 6).farmedfor ideological and philosophicalreasons. The most radical mutationin the history of the villa occurredin the early nineteenth century.but more modest markettowns. a the texts accompanying these plans promotedthe elements of the traditionalmythology suited to proprietors below the rankof gentleman(fig.transport. Charleston.and in the case of the Romanexamples. The garden-citymovement of the later nineteenthcentury appropriated as much as possible of villa ideology into its blurredvision of urbanand ruralvalues.on the contrary. The contrastbetween the northerncolonial farmerand the southernplantationowner was even greater than thatbetween Cato and Pliny the Younger. this intentionexplains the Palladian porch added to the facade of DraytonHall near Charleston(fig. with a certainCatonian(and Protestant) pride in successful crops and in the sweat they representedbut withoutthose mythic trappingsthat find expressionin the literature. it was a short step to its manufactureby entrepreneursfor the open market. had their carpentersbuild from plans in books recentlypublishedin London. P T _- _| '^^VESTIBULE71 SCULLERY 8 XJ 9 | PANTRY _ * DRAWING RZ 18 x 24 PORCH 7 In the course of time colonial villas in rural territoriesoften spawnedtowns.

This is rooted in differentcultures and in differentrates of evolution. kept him from altering his agriculturalmethods or the physical setting in which he lives and works. with rare exceptions it strainsto be the paradigmof the architecturalavantgarde.but in both cases the revival was a progressive statementthat explicitly rejected a prevailingstyle. But two contrastingmodels were firmly established in Roman times: the condensedcubic and the open-extended. and Venturi. until recent times. so the farmhousechanges more slowly than the villa.7 Farmhousesin many parts of Europe today retainforms that have remainedunchangedfor millennia. except perhapsin helping to disparagethe use of the word "villa" to designatethe type. Richardson. even in instances where urbanand ruralresidences were designed for the same patron. 8). and in the present century Le Corbusierwas exceptional in reviving the designation.not firmly drawnand to the initial . 8.The former was better suited to such crowdedsuburbs as Pompeii. but even on the rareoccasions when he became wealthy and worldly. The villa is quite the opposite.Viollet-le-Duc. Frenchhistoriansof the Annales school have called this phenomenonof gradualismthe longue duree and have opened new historicalpotentialitiesin studying its processes.Renaissancearchitects sought to revive antiquevillas. Nineteenth-centurycountry houses in the villa tradition-such as those of Scott. The distinction between the farmhouseand the villa is not simply one of purposeand of program. The debased economic and social position of the peasant(as well as the contadino and the sharecropper) have. it seldom displays an effort on the part of the proprietor or the architectto conform to past custom. The villa is less fixed in form than most other architecturaltypes because the requirementsof leisure lack clear in the residencesof Le Corbusieror Peter Eisenman(figs. The rule is illustratedby the celebrated milestones of modernistarchitecture: the Ames Gatehouse. 9). and British eighteenth-centuryvilla architects were fanatic Palladians. generally they follow a more conservative tradition.though they are rapidlybeing replacedby contractors' villas and will soon be threatenedwith total extinction. the Villa Savoye at Poissy (fig. and Voyseywere not called villas. Just as agriculturalpractices change more slowly than those of industryand commerce. the Coonley House. the suburbanretreatsof the New York Five (fig.however. The differenthousing styles are consistent with the proprietors' usual fashions of dress in the city as opposed to the country. his sense of proprietyand pride of class led him to retain traditionalforms. did not affect the evolution of the villa in its traditionalsense. There is hardly a moment in the history of architecture when villas were less innovative than other architecturaltypes. Though urban residences have sometimes kept abreast of villas. 9).s Style and Form 18 a little more open space aroundit than could be found in dwellings in the densely populatedstreets of the urbancore. where the line between the city house and villa was . Granted.

France. 1929-1930. Vermont. Peter Eisenman 19 . 1969. Le Corbusier 9 House II (Falk House). Poissy.8 Villa Savoye. Hardwick.

c.and the two majortypes I have definedare roughly coordinatedwith two types of interaction. imitatingnaturein the irregularity of its layout and profile. first century B. Tropicalforest conditions produceda variantof the cubic type in the plantationhouses of seventeenthcentury Brazil and in the eighteenth-century Caribbean.a unique veranda-surrounded block that seems not to have been exported from Europe. where considerationsof defense demanded consolidation. The compactedPompeiian form. 11 Villa found its way into the plantation-housedesign of the early-nineteenth-centuryMississippi valley. 14).or the Farnesina in Rome (fig. embracingthe ground. the vaguenessof the contemporarywriter Vitruviusin describing villas (his main point is that the orderof rooms at the entrancediffers from that of the city houses) confirmsthis suspicion. Louisiana. is due also to the fact that the villa had not yet gained its independencefrom urbanmodels by the first century B. Pompeii. assuming naturalcolors and textures. Rome. as did FrankLloyd Wrightat the Taliesins (fig. 10). A paradigmof the first is Lorenzode' Medici's villa at Poggio a Caiano. outside Florence (fig.8 The open villa is more congenial to the ideological engagementwith nature. Frank Lloyd Wright . to underscorethis message.9 10 Villa dei Misteri. courts. begun 1911. The compact-cubicvilla is often a foil to nature. it tended to acquirea loggia along its facade. Spring Green. and Jefferson(who in the course of forty years never ceased to alter the shape of Monticello). as at Home Place in Louisiana(fig. When the condensed villa faced a farmyard or a view.10 20 settlements on the peripheryof the Empire. standingoff from it in polar opposition. 1801 13 Taliesin East.C. 1509. Inscribedwithin a cube. the open-extendedtype is integrative. 12). and in the variedprofiles of changing levels. 11). just outside the city walls (fig. it often grows organicallyas the wealthy proprietoris temptedto continuouslyextend the initial structureby adding rooms. This type reappearsin the small early Renaissancevilla. as in the Villa dei Misteri.It expands informally in extended asymmetrical blocks and porticoes. Italy. Wisconsin. the villa must interactin some way with nature. Pliny must have done as much. sixteenth-century view 12 Home Place Plantation. it is raised on a high podiumto assure that the contact of the residentswith nature would be not intimate but removedand in perspective. like the Belvedere of Innocent VIII at the Vatican.. 13). in Romanexamples typically framedbetween two projectingblocks or towers. it is faced with white stucco to emphasize its total polarity to the irrationalityof trees and rolling hills. and porticoes. To fulfill its ideological mission.

there is no podium.Lonedo. but the entrance stairwayleads to the upperfloor (later Palladianworks are more engaged with nature-even the entirely cubic Villa Rotunda in Vicenza. for example) with the inventionof the informal English garden in reaction againstthe imposition of geometric orderon plant life. 8) and in the TugendhatHouse in Bmo.Italy. which is designed to reflect the varied views and which seems to crown the hill on which it is placed). which is also sharplygeometrical in form. 15). avoiding even window framesor moldings.1489 15 VillaGodi.notably in the Villa Savoye at Poissy (fig.12 14 Villaof Lorenzo de' Medici. that of the Godi family in Lonedo (fig. The effort to respond to natureby antithesisexplains the apparentparadoxof melding the sharplygeometrical and classical Palladian style in early eighteenth-centuryBritain (at Lord Burlington'svilla at Chiswick.Poggioa Caiano. Palladioalso followed this traditionin the design of his first villa. 1537-1542 The white-stuccoedpodium-villabecame a major twentieth-centuryparadigm. 21 .Italy.

16 .i 1- ...~~V~ ~ '' ~ ~ . .-. w~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~: .22 .ii~~~~~~~~~~ V..

E*i.L x1 b~. third century 17 Villa Lante.16 Imperial villa.. Italy. 1565 (etching by Venturini) t. Rome. ti { tBv n~~~~ t1s?. t X ' t - 3. Tivoli. ~dSS ?+ ' . Ragnia. S if . is 18 . 1568 18 Villa d'Este. NV-. Italy. Piazza Armerina.

the villa at Piazza Armerinain Sicily. the Greens. even sprawlingstructuresoffer a model of the more collaborativeresponse to the landscape. took precedence even over the architecture. In nonagriculturalRenaissance in his manuscriptfor a book on villas and villas. Aalto. 23 . unearthedin recent times. The desire to make the real environmentlook like pictureswas stimulatedby the landscapepaintingsof Poussin. Shaw and Richardson. From this point on. not from any actualmodels in Italy.while the shy.the nature-artdialectic Giuliano da Sangallo throughBramante. and the "ItalianVilla" style (fig. The triumphof natureover architectural form was ultimately achieved in the eighteenth century. expressed their commained firmly in the artist'scontrol. Uvedale Price.Ruysdael.WhetherRomanvillas. when the fashion of the picturesqueemerged. 18). which remany in later times.its contrastsof light. Authorsof books on architectureand landscapedesign-such as RichardPayneKnight. andMaybeckto Moore. Claude Lorrain. The architectureof the Villa central block. den design. An early engrav. 17). was designed to be seen as part of the landscape and to respondto it in mood. a picturesque. 16). because of the condition of the remains. but the appearanceof these villas is difficult to reconstructfrom his letters. This achievementgreatly narrowedthe distance between the two Romantypes by the Villa d'Este in Tivoli concedes all empulling the extending arms and wings of the phasis to the garden(fig.what intersupportedtheir conception of the heritage action did occur was. number. Loudon.of Palladio. Renaissancearchitectsfrom could be accepted.watercourses. and their heir Humphrey Repton. like architectureand the garden. but from the canvasesof the French and British painterswho had workedthere (Schinkel'sCharlottenhofgardener'svilla was one exception. while the building itself is exceptionally inexpressive open villa in symmetricalorderabouta and bland. for the first time the centralaxis of the composition is occupied by landscaping elements. such as those of the Papalcourt in Rome.classical form by imposing a rule of order. and its shadows and textures. The asymmetriesof Gothic proved sympatheticto this aim. Most of the ancient models (none of of villas were too Renaissance which was known priorto the discovery Designers fixed on the polarity of natureand culture of Pompeii) lacked the axial symmetry.while frequentlygeometric in its forms. Renaissancedesigners would have been disappointedand disorientedhad they discovered that Romanvillas were not classical. and symmetrythat fixed the type ing of the Villa Lante in Bagnaiashows a small "wild" area in the lower right corner until the moment of naturalistdisruptionin the eighteenth century (SebastianoSerlio. in which the architecture.Pliny's descriptionsof extended. rather. even classicized the peasant'shut). nature-integratingspirit dominates the naturalistlineage of villa architecture-from the publicists Papworth. and Palladiodid give the villa a tamed greenery and water. cubic residential casinos are pushed to either side. providesa better opportunityto visualize this exceptionally large and lavish "organic" type (fig. fountains.between the of antiquity.urged clients to build villas that borrowedfrom the landscapesomethingof its irregularity. (fig. In quently complementedby a barco. as in the porticoedvillas Lante in Bagnaia is overwhelmedby its gar.Lutyens. and stairways. 7) abruptly emerged. and proportionthat between the two were blurred. Wright. where the wildness of nature any event. andDowningthroughPhilipWebb's Red House. or hunting park. and others. The munion with natureby a richness of color formal garden of the Renaissancewas freand of texture is hardto tell even today. to devise schemes in which the barriers rational integration. the artifices of the formal garden palaces. its motives were authenticallyItalian). was transferredto the contrastof wild and Raphael.

such villas once dotted the slopes of Mount Vesuvius when Pompeii flourished. one must remember to look not only at them. and attentionis drawnonly to the distant panorama). west of Rome. Surely the architectureof each of these four structures is designed aroundwhat can be seen from them as much as aroundwhat is done in them. The villa view that in one sense most fully illustratesthe urbanroots of the villa myth is the one that looks back on the city from a high and distantpromontoryoutside its walls.just barely above the level of the plain. only large enough to hold a small cubic structure. Horace's "Sabine Farm" is back within the mountains on an extraordinarysite suited to a poet (fig. The effect was achievedby removingwalls. 20): a saddle.By contrast. The innovationwas due not merely to a change of taste. as its promotersmade it out to be. Extended fields with cattle and haystacks could now become embellishmentsof a pastoralelegy. hedges. as well as many villages on the great estates. Hadrian'svast villa extends over a low-lying escarpmentat the base of the hills thatrise out of the wooded Campagna. atop one of which a village seems almost to cling (the surviving one is believed to occupy the site of its Roman predecessor). incidentally. 19) shows both to be commanding. it is a nestling villa in the lap of the hills. with a valley on one side of the cross-axis and conical peaks on the other. and fences so that the lawn and planted trees would merge imperceptibly into pastureand bosc. so that in his leisure hours he could enjoy visual commandof the city he controlledpolitically.The View 24 In reflecting on the ways in which villas respondto the landscape. . The impact of the prospecton the conception of the villa was intensifiedin eighteenth-centuryEnglandwhen the vogue for the informal gardenwas extendedto embrace the entire agriculturallandscape. but high enough to gain a vast panoramaof the countrysideand distantmountains. offer paradigmaticexamples of three genres of villa siting. but out from them.are barely visible from the villa itself: they drop away sharply. and Cosimo de' Medici built one of the earliest Renaissancevillas on a man-made terraceabove Fiesole. The choice of prospectis almost as subject to myth and the rule of taste as is the choice of design-I say "almost"because villa buildersare limited in the choice of land formationand floraby the natureof the particularterritoryin which they intend to settle and by the propertyavailableto them. which wiped out the ancientcommon pasturesand peasanttillage. extrovertedvillas (the famed gardens of Villa d'Este.deeply embedded between two sharplyrising hills.A view towardthe formerfrom the terraceof the latter (fig. but also to a radical change in agriculturaleconomy and society resulting from the Acts of Enclosure. The villa of QuintiliusVarusand the Renaissance Villa of the Este family are perched high on the slopes-not on the very peaks. The environs of Tivoli. and concentrateddevelopmentof the entire landscape in the hands of the landowners. with views just over the treetops.

I i .

Italy. Italy. Tivoli.19 View from Villa d'Este. Tivoli. first century 4 25 20 . 1565 20 Horace's Sabine Farm.

23).d I' . with projectingblocks framinga centralloggia. is specific enough in form to arouse curiosity about how it traveledfrom the late Roman empire to the fifteenthcentury and beyond. and Pliny's descriptions.kC I I I iW k. from which it passes back into a type of early Renaissance villa that achieves a refinedform in BaldassarePeruzzi'sVilla Farnesinain Rome (fig. Vitruviuswas almost no help. though ample.The U-shapedvilla. only recently excavated at Montmaurinin the French part of Gaul. they must somehow or otherhave survived over the interveningcenturiesthroughlinks that have now almost entirely vanished. not far from Ravenna. Anothervilla (fig. the loggia with extended wings was added in the fourth century to an earlierblock. archaeologicalevidence continuesto mount of Roman villas that anticipatedRenaissance and later types. since within the rationalistorientationof Mediterranean culture it is one self-evident architectural solution to the problem of designing a freestanding structure. at Mayen in GermanGaul (fig. however. such as Raphael'sdesign for Villa Madamain Rome (about which he wrote a letter filled with Plinian phrases). 21).'?Of these. In a characteristic Roman provincialexample. 22). anticipatedthe entrancewayflankedwith two quadrantsof a circle in a style reinventedby Palladiofor such projects as the Villa Badoer at Fratta Pol6sine (fig. The persistence of the compact-cubictype may not be especially significant. Whateverthe answer. 24) and passing from there into innumerablehouses and villas in Europe and America.intentas they were on reviving the ancientvillas. < 21 22 Survival or Revival? 26 Renaissancevilla architects. it is more likely to be in the realm of folkways than of architecturalstyle. and emerges again in the typical Venetian-Byzantinepalace. . Since a revival of these ancient forms cannot have occurred. The type was preserved in a sixth-centuryvilla of Theodoric in Galeata(fig. In spite of this lack. were useful only for projectsof great lavishness. did not know of any models on which to base their designs and were forced to dependentirely on the meager literary sources. 11).

\rE..I- la N I L I I 24 . reconstruction. Fratta Polesine. . first to fourth centuries 22 Villa of Theodoric. Montmaurin.. after 1556. Andrea Palladio 27 I jj '' . Mayen.I.21 Gallo-Roman villa. France. 1^ ' . L-ow--- . sixth century 23 Gallo-Roman villa.1- 1?? . Italy. Galeata near Ravenna."izLm. . fourth century 24 Villa Badoer. wsSwr S s 6 a 0 0 0 0 O 0 a) I I i I4 m I e // I ?-IiI_ .. Italy. Rhineland._ ~ 5 t i1 .uf.

~_gr >. H H Richardson 28 Villa Medici. Serlio 27 li~i~ ~Ames __ Gate Lodge.- 26 25 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A 28:Ytts e .. ca1450 27 . 1881.fl1Ylj* _ f f l .. Cafaggiolo.i~ Sl /tJz ~~~~i.25 28 fC "Falling Water" (Kaufmann house). . 1936.ffX'7Run. Massachusetts. . < >: ?. 1584. Italy. &Sebastiano 26 Rustic gate.~~~~~~~~~~ ~Easton.~~~~3 _In.~~~~~~~~~ . North q3E_i. Bear Pennsylvania. lFrank Lloyd Wright :/ I.

While late medieval and early Renaissance rusticationimplied a military and public function.the dialectic natureand cultureor artifice. regional or class pride. and naturaland varied textures.28 28 The Villa as Sign The villa inevitablyexpresses the mythology thatcauses it to be built: the attraction to nature. are importedfrom other types of construction. Sebastiano Serlio. 29 . which poses a dialogue between the nature-affirming effects of fieldstone hearth.the prerogativesof privilege and power.whetherstated in engagementor in cool distance. Even a villa as modernas Lorenzo de'Medici's Poggio a Caiano (fig. The signifiers range from the sitingand form of the building(s) as a whole to individualdetails and characteristics.and national. taking up the idea from Giulio Romano. 27) and the Payne house in Waltham. is signified by an overall compact. often with the rusticity created in terracotta. near Venice. 14) has a walled enceinte with four cornertowers.was a Renaissance device that aimed to give building blocks the appearanceof "living" stone as distinct from ashlarmasonryof finely finished surfaces. in which such irregularnaturalphenomenaas stalactites were reproducedin a variety of plastic materialsto which naturalobjects-such as shells and fossils-were added.this is most vividly evident in the Ames Gate Lodge at North Easton (fig. as occasionally happens. made much of combining rustic and smooth treatmentsas a way of dramatizing the antithesis of the naturaland the artificial (fig. The expression of power and class aspiration is evident in the firstvillas of the Renaissance. Rustication. 28). irregular blocks. Distancing from the setting. were increasingly used for villas. One such is the Medici villa at Cafaggiolo (fig. the symbolization evolved in the sixteenth centuryto conform with the rustic implicationsof the term. was given a moat and drawbridge. and floors laid in irregularslabs linking the interior and exterior. on the other hand. colors reflectingthe setting. studied proportions. The comparablecombination of wood and stucco of Aalto's Villa Mairea serves the same purpose. which took over the vocabularyof the medieval feudal castle-towers. The equally avant-gardeearly-sixteenthcentury Villa Giustinianat Roncade.He was also one of the many proponentsof shingles as a nature-invokingsurface.they are usually chosen from past architecturalusage or. and rustic gates. cubic form (often with a podiumor similar device to elevate the living quartersfrom the earth). Castles returnedto favor in the eighteenth century in the work of Vanbrughand the early Scottish designs of RobertAdam. walls. Since signs and symbols convey meaningonly to those who know what they signify. The dialectic natureand artifice is expressed in the paradoxicalimitationof naturalforms in man-madeelements. Intimateengagementwith natureis signifiedby a site and design that permitthe villa to nestle and to extend out into its surroundings. and the contrasting coolness of the carefully formed white concrete balconies. not intendingparticularly to refer to the Renaissance. battlements. and assymmetricaland open design. and crenellations. 25). 26). as occurs in FrankLloyd Wright'sKaufmann house at Bear Run (fig. H H Richardsonused rusticationof a vigorous new kind. The fountain-grottoof villa gardens was a companionmotif.Ambiguitytoward these two poles can also be expressed.and emphasison plane surfaces of whiteor of a light color thatdisguise the natureof the materials. the ship railings of Le Corbusier. adopted from a small numberof Roman buildings of the firstcentury.

.and more recently of the Californiaschool. and elsewhere. In this respectthe design of villas parallelsthatof fashions in apparel. we should expect the villa to remain even more convention-bound.even regal pretensions. he adaptedthe loggias flankingthe temple-frontfrom barchesse. If the farmhouseresists change because agricultureand farm cultureevolve slowly. In nineteenth-centuryNewport the villas of the excessively rich again assumed aristocratic. Jefferson'staste for pre-Imperial Roman and Palladianreferenceswas intended to express republicanas againstaristocraticideals. being a luxury commodity availableonly to persons of privilege and power.Though his domes and temple-frontfacades are urbane and calculatedto imply the patrons' exalted social statusby bringingthe auraof classical learning and religious traditionto the villa. Barchesse do not appearat the Villa Rotonda near Vicenza because it is a suburbanvilla with no farm functions.Conclusion 30 While the adoptionof Georgianarchitectural symbols in southernplantationhouses affirmedthe link of the colonists with their homeland. Palladio was extraordinarilyprolific in devising and combining villa messages. Regionalism informs the symbolism of the Florentinevillas of the Medici dukedomin the sixteenth century. he could join them to common barnyardelements.The semantic function of the returnof elements of the vocabularyof antiquityin this dialectic is less to evoke the classical traditionand its historical implicationthan to underscorethe antimodernistposition. is essentiallylimited to the sphere of taste.It is supremely conservativesocially. Theirrole in the Palladianvillas was probablynot fully utilitarian. This circumstanceleaves the designer free to devise an expressionthat will best serve the maker'simage as an artistand best define a position in the dialectic of modernism versus antimodernism. the compositionoften reaches out into the surroundings. Voysey. At the villas Barbaroat Maser. Yet the mythicalnatureof villa ideology liberatesthe type from concrete restraintsof utility and productivity and makes it ideally suited to the creative aspirationsof patronand Palladioplaced the temple-fronton all four faces of a domed cube to underscorethe focal position of the hilltop site in relationto the surroundingviews.the patronswould not have supportedthe odors and the noise. produce. and cattle. While his geometric and axial forms and white surfaces express a sophisticatedcontrastto the organic world. and Lutyens. and the ideology that sustains the type has stayedunchanged over millennia. 29).This creativity. The paradigmof the villa poses a cultural paradox. which has been similarlymotivated by an unchangingmythology since surplus wealth first offered its temptations. traditionalagriculturalsheds of the Venetianmainland designed to store farm machineryand implements. Emo at Fanzolo (fig.of the British villas of Scott. Signification has become problematicin contemporaryvilla design because of the absence of clear purposeand confidencein privilege on the part of the exceptionally wealthy individualswho can affordto build them.

Fanzolo. :+4. 31 .. 1564.. 29 29 Villa Emo.'I"Icyr::FCI -LL.LrJ :i :. '""S""rs ?????. *4. Andrea Palladio `4. Italy..I f :fi 1 I 'we ? ' . ?ur.