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The French Academic

Context Post Renaissance

 Baroque Era - beginning 1600 A.D.

 Neo Classicism / 1750 – 1900
 French Academic Tradition
 Decline of Neoclassicism
 Nineteenth Century Concepts
 Gothic Revival - Structural Rationalism
 The industrial revolution
 The Architects of the Baroque Era were
intent on extending the horizon of their
sources of inspiration beyond the
Classical, and sought artistic freedom.
 new emphasis was placed on bold
massing, colonnades, domes, light-and-
shade (chiaroscuro), 'painterly' color
effects, and the bold play of volume and
Francois Mansart's Chateau de Maisons.
 As an assault on orthodox Renaissance
conventions, Baroque Architecture also
tended toward what was in many respects
a stricter geometrical and scientific
determinism - experimentation with form
and a greater emphasis on a geometric
approach to design.
Church of St.Mary, Venice

 Salzburg Cathedral

 Typical Baroque
Neoclassical architecture and
the influence of antiquity
 In architecture, neoclassicism was the dominant
style in Europe during 1750s-1850s, marked by
the imitation of Greco-Roman forms. Classical
architectural models were adapted or referenced
in a range of architectural forms, including
churches, arches, temple, house, terraces,
garden monuments and interior designs. Later,
Neoclassical architecture became an
international style, each country held some
distinct characteristic in their style.
Altes Museum, Berlin
Circus at Bath

Petit Trianon
 Neoclassical, or "new" classical, architecture
describes buildings that are inspired by the
classical architecture of ancient Greece and
 The over-elaboration of architectural language in
the Baroque era led to the search by architects
for a true style through a precise re-appraisal of
Classical Design Tenets. Their motivation was
not simply to copy the ancients but to obey the
principles on which their work had been based.
 Ancient Greek Architecture was studied
and emulated in terms of the qualities like
Harmony, Proportion, Rationality, Balance,
 This was more than a revival, it was an
argument for a return to rational structural
principles and their expression in buildings
Zwinger Palace in Dresden

 many of the first generation of neoclassical architects

received training in the classic French tradition through a
series of exhaustive and practical lectures that was
offered for decades by Jacques-François Blondel
Neo Classicism / Palladianism
 Last phase of the Renaissance, when Ancient Greek
Architecture was studied and emulated in terms of the qualities
like Harmony, Proportion, Rationality, Balance, etc.
 The architecture of Neo-Classicism emerged out of two
different but related developments which radically transformed
the relationship between man and nature.
 A sudden increase in man’s capacity to control nature due to technical
advances of the Industrial Revolution
 A fundamental shift in the nature of human consciousness, in response
to major changes taking place in society, resulting in a new cultural
formation that was equally appropriate to the life styles of the declining
aristocracy and the rising bourgeoisie.
 Neo Classicism was more than a revival; it was an argument for
a return to rational structural principles and their expression in
American Examples
Fanueil Hall

The Capitol, WashingtonD.C.

Massachusetts State House

Low Library, New York

Mount Vernon, Virginia

French Academic Tradition
Chiefly articulated by
 Jacques Francois Blondel
 Claude Perrault
 The founding of the Royal Academy of
Architecture in Paris in 1671 can be taken as the
starting point of modern European theory and
practice. The purpose of the Academy was to
codify the principles of Classical Design and to
espouse them in practice.
 Symbolically, the new academy represented, in
line with the political and cultural ascendancy of
France, a declaration of independence from the
Renaissance tradition.
Jacques-François Claude Perrault

Jean Nicolas Louis Durand

Jean Baptiste Rondelet

 In response to the perceived architectural
excesses of the baroque period, the
academy’s foundation reflected the
tendency to provide a nationally
sanctioned forum for the consolidation and
rational reinterpretation of traditional
 The question of whether contemporary
culture could match or even exceed
classical accomplishments led to the re-
evaluation of Vitruvius and Renaissance
French Academic Theory
 The theoretical developments that attended the
emergence of Neo-Classicism in France were chiefly
articulated by Perrault & Blondel.
 Claude Perrault questioned the validity of the Classical
Vitruvian proportions to his time.
 Instead, he elaborated his thesis of positive beauty and
arbitrary beauty, giving to the former the normative role
of standardization and perfection and to the latter such
expressive function as may be required by a particular
circumstance or character.
 Jacques – Francois Blondel, after opening his
architectural school in Rue de la Harpe in 1743 became
the master of a ‘visionary’ generation of architects
 Blondel’s preoccupation was an appropriate
physiognomy to accord with the varying social character
of different building types.
Jean Baptiste Rondelet
 French theory took a new direction in the
nineteenth century when Jean Baptiste Rondelet,
famed for saving the collapsing church of Ste.
Genevieve in Paris (now the Pantheon) published
his volume ‘Traite theorique et pratique de l’art de
batir’, a work that is remarkable simply because it
contains almost no theoretical discussion.
 Rondelet was one of the first modern architects to
argue that the art of building should emulate the
science of engineering, that was based on the
principles of mathematics and physics.
Jean Nicolas Louis Durand
 Jean Nicolas Louis Durand taught a course on
architecture at the Ecole Polytechnique which
was without academic precedent. The classical
Orders, he argued, were not the essence of
architecture; rules for proportion should be
derived from the nature of the material and its
use. Convenience, rather than beauty, was the
reason for making architecture, thus the
architect had two problems to solve : how to
design and build a private building with the
greatest convenience within a given budget; and
how to design and build a public edifice with the
greatest possible economy.
 Durand sought to establish a universal building
method by the application of a normative
building typology with which economic and
appropriate structures could be created through
the modular permutation of fixed plan types and
alternative elevations- an interchangeable
typology of compositional parts that could be
assembled or organized in various
 Durand’s compositional methodology proved to
be enormously influential throughout Europe,
especially in Germany. Economic factors, such
as the injunction that maximum floor area be
obtained with minimum perimeter construction,
became the overriding criteria of design.
Decline of Neoclassicism
During the second half of the 18th century the
the interaction of a number of a number of
unprecedented technical developments and
socio-economic forces gave rise to a new
context. In the space of a century the finite city
was totally transformed.
The rapid decline of Neoclassicism was due to a
progressive functionalism propelled by
technological developments of fireproof
construction, gas lighting, central heat and
ventilation, and exposed cast-iron structure.

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