Table of Contents

Andrea Palladio Life and Development Renaissance The Architecture of Palladio

Palladio’s Masterpiece: Villa Capra (La Rotonda) Utilitas Firmitas Venustas


ANDREA PALLADIO Life and Development Andrea Palladio was born in Padua. that made Palladio to practice. Italy in 1508. but without the culture and intellectual skills by this time necessary in a true architect. Trissino was the most important person behind the development of Palladio as an architect and in fact. he gained his first experiences as a stonecutter in a sculpture workshop in Padua. His early commissions consisted primarily of palaces and villas for the aristocracy. Palladio died in Vicenza. who took palladio and decided to grow under his wing and transform him from Andrea di Pietro to the famous architect Andrea Palladio. In the same year. who made designs for rebuilding his city palace. Trissino probably also guided Palladio in his initial reading and Vitruvius. After a series of commissions executed in the Classic tradition. . the fine Roman name which Trissino invented for him after their meeting. that furnished him with a wide range of knowledge and later on he became largely influenced by it. that contribute largely to introduce Palladian architecture to the rest of westerns. and the theories of Vitruvius. Venice. where all of his buildings are located in. Palladio worked with Daniele Barbaro. capable perhaps of designing portals and funerary monuments. he took Palladio several times to Rome to visit the character of the ancient architecture. Italy in 1580. the second important person for him after Trissino's death in 1550. throughout his life time. At his early stage. in the mid 1530s. Trissino was important for Palladio in many ways: He was himself a talented amateur architect. it was the Vicentine Humanist. he was appointed architectural adviser to the Venetian Republic. 1570). Later on . In 1570 he published his theoretical work I Quattro Libri dell 'Architettura ("The four books of architecture". writer and nobleman. Giangiorgio Trissino (14781550). just outside Vicenza. its said that he would probably have remained a skilled and intelligent craftsman. Palladio worked in the design of religious and secular buildings in the so called venetian republic. In 1540s. he also remodelled his own suburban residence at Cricoli. but he began to design religious buildings in the 1560s. on a new edition of Vitruvius. From the age of sixteen He moved to vicenza and worked as an assistant in a Vicenza guild of masons and stone-cutters. Palladio became figurative and the most influential architect in the history of Western architecture by his particular way of utilizing the classical Roman and Greek architecture.

its documented as he made a design for villa Godi in 1540 at Lonedo.Palladio's emergence as an architect: Even though there is no clear information that tells how Palladio turned from executing small scale works to become a full architect. two-storied casino with a temple front of Ionic half-columns and pediment is flanked by single-story arcades connecting it to the service buildings. particularly of High Renaissance(1495-1520AD) and Mannerism(Late Renaissance. In 1541 Trissino took Palladio to Rome to study the ancient monuments. understand and value the architecture of Palladio in. based on that he designed magnificent series of city palaces. His approach to design in harmony with the culture and society of the time is one of the main reasons behind his success. Le antichità di Roma. but with his mind. He integrated an extraordinary aesthetic quality with an expression of the client's social aspirations. working not with mason's tools. which were the potential sources of all the inspirations for developing his best known style of architecture in his career. his pen and ruler. with a group of Vicenzans. in the following year he. a specific sensitivity. visually communicate their place in the social order of their culture. At this time Palladio began a magnificent series of drawings of ancient buildings. Accademia Olimpica. 1520-1600 AD). palladio made illustrations for the commentary published by the Venetian humanist Daniele Barbaro In 1556 on the architectural treatise of Vitruvius. the architecture of Renaissance period was mainly concerned on demonstrating the revival and development of the ancient Greek's and roman's architectural thoughts and elements. Palladio was unique in his deep understanding of the notion of 'client'. . The central. for the villa also served as a farm. The Villa Barbaro (now Volpi) is set into a gentle hillside. which made him to be chosen by powerful members of Venetian society for numerous important commissions. 1555-1559) one of the loveliest of all villas. founded an academy of arts and sciences. At the same time Palladio designed for Barbaro and his brother at Maser (ca. the review of some of the key architectural trends of the era is an important vocabulary to read. somewhat . and later on built churches. it was In 1554 that Palladio made his last trip to Rome and wrote an important handbook about the antiquity of Rome. county side recreational and farm villas. with a consistent implementation of the motives he derived from the classical style. RENAISSANCE: Andrea Palladio is a man lived in the age of the period historically known as Renaissance(around 1400-1600AD). still it has probably been said that his contribution was restricted in scope since the villa doesn't resembles to his preferred divisions of a villa plan. his books.

circle and square orders. after a detailed observation of Vitruvius's work. Tuscan. a style which differs in some particular motifs from the previous ones by sophistication and complexity. which developed by architects such as Michelangelo and Giulio Romano.Italy due to a social transformation movement by a rationalist. distortion of scale and perspective. the emergence of the style was headed by Filippo Brunelleschi and further carried out by Michelozzo and Leon Batista Alberti. harmony between human proportion and buildings geometry and regularity of parts. the leader of this new fashion was Donato Bramante who had worked much on the design of several churches and palaces starting from the addition of crossing and choir to Santa Maria Delle Grazie of Milan up to the design of the famous churches such as Tempietto San Pietro and San Peter's Basilica of Rome. middle class commercial social group whose interests were all materials. wrote an architectural treatise 'Ten Books On Architecture' which became the grammar of renaissance architectural practice. Later on the second chapter of the period. a system of supportive or decorative columns/pilasters (Doric. a famous humanist theoretician.First it was emerged out from Florence . exaggerated/embellished classical forms. had evolved with an ability to apply the revived classical elements in a quite different way from the structures of the ancient times. He survived and practiced through the Late Renaissance (Mannerism) period. Andrea Palladio appeared in this period as the purest classicist with his innovative methods of architecture based on Vitruvius's and other renaissance architects' works. perfect shapes . High Renaissance. artist and architect who. Corinthian And Composite) and lintel/entablature roman arches and domes . Generally Renaissance architecture is characterized by:      symmetry and perspective mathematical proportion. Ionic. Later.

Palladio resembles to his contemporaries in the idea to employ the classical architectural elements and practices in compromise with the specifications of Vitruvius both in planimetric and elevation schemes derived from the antique. and of these again to the whole. Blackwell Publishing. and the openings of the doors and windows exactly over one another. 2006 . he is an exceptional one who displayed an architectural intelligence of a high order by the formulation of his own distinctive language. and beauty and that work can't be called perfect if it lacks one of the three. and their foundations strong and solid: observing to place the upper columns directly perpendicular over those that are underneath. "An edifice may be esteemed commodious. like the contemporary architects of his time. when every part or member stands in its due place and fit situation. upon the walls being carried directly upright. and of forms of orders to create an architecture of fixed forms." 1 1 Harry Francis Mallgrave. however. of room shapes. had devoted to the designs of religious and secular buildings. or the loggia's. and all necessary to compose what you intend to form. or duration depends. The strength. An Anthology From Vitruvius To 1870.THE ARCHITECTURE OF PALLADIO Andrea Palladio. cellars and granaries are conveniently disposed. according to Vitruvius. duration. wherein each member agrees with the other. the three things that a fine work of architecture should contain. neither above or below its dignity and use. Beauty will result from the form and correspondence of the whole. chambers. Architectural Theory. Palladio states. with respect to the several parts. utility/convenience. USA. of the parts with regard to each other. halls. and the void over the void. that the structure may appear an entire and complete body. and in their roper places. fixed proportions and regularly implemented principles. He makes use of a standardized series of overall types. Both early and high renaissance architects had considerable influences on his development. thicker below than above. page 47 . Volume I. so that the solid be upon the solid.

and there will be a perfect overlap or fit when its folded about its central axis. the relation between the length and the height of a wall. then 18'*30' and the hall is 16'*54'. In a two dimensional aspect. The other and more complicated type is called harmonic proportion. each having the dimensions in correspondence to the neighboring one. or the reflection of all elements and patterns on one side exists on the other side. 9:6:4). interior with exterior and room and room to create a correlation between parts. and in elevation. proportion means the relation of two quantities: in plan. which is closely related to musical theory (e. Andrea Palladio is best known for his different sets of harmonious mathematical proportions used to dimension the different spaces in plans and the spacing in between columns with respect to their heights and diameters according to the type of the orders. the relationship between length. that is. (e. he designs a proportionally unified plan by creating a sequence of rooms. Palladio formulates three dimensional proportionalities that integrate a floor plan and a wall. Generally. For example. But here we refer to the geometric meaning of the word.g. Vicenza. based on the rule (6-4)/6 =(4-3)/3. 9/6 = 6/4. the pleasant proportionality and balance among components. 3 . in the design of palazzo chiericati. Palladio usually creates a dominant space at the center.e. that act as the climax of the composition. "symmetry" refers to aesthetics.g. width and height of a room. all are multiples of 6. i. As a result. similar arrangement of elements on both sides of an axis..Principles of the architecture of Palladio The Palladian architecture is strongly based on: Symmetry And Perspective: in the classical architecture. Proportion: it is a mathematical system used to set the dimensions of one part in correspondence with the size of the other part or with of the whole in order to create harmony in the overall project. One of these is called geometric proportion (e.g. and places the other parts connected outwards from the central part in the order of decreasing size and importance. 6:4:3). Palladio's plans are symmetrical about one or two horizontal axes and elements on the facades are arranged symmetrical about one central vertical axis. based on the equality of two ratios. he used the smallest room size 12'*18'. 6:4).. Palladio consistently uses the principle of a perfect symmetry for organizing spaces and architectural elements both in plan and in elevation-for the design of his facades. Palladio was able to bind plan with elevation. the relation between the length and the width of a room. its neighbor 18'*18'. Hierarchy: is when parts of a building placed based on an order of importance.

controlled the affairs of the city as city councillors.. Villa and Palace designs Moreover to the design of churches as like many of early and high renaissance architects mostly did. Classical orders of columns and entablatures..... these residences were effective in establishing a social and political presence in the country side... He schematized the design of palaces with some common features such as a carefully arrangement of suit rooms around a courtyard with a special sensitivity to the 'piano noble'. very rich and powerful social classes.... Adaptation of classical temple architecture: Palladio considerably incorporates the elements of the ancient Greek and roman temples into the design of his buildings.. He designs villas with a scale and decoration that can closely express the wealth and social standing of the owners............. PICTURES AND ILLUSTRATIONS WILL BE ADDED....... SOMEOF THE PALACES DESIGNED BY PALLADIO WITH PICTURES WILL BE ADDED. which is clearly marked on the facades by elements that express the internal divisions of the building..Geometry: Andrea Palladio's architecture strictly relies on regular geometric shapes. Based on two main divisions of purposes... it has been found that villa design is his reputation..... and facades of richly sculptured with orders and statues....... Palladio's villas are categorized as: 4 .... rounded arches and domes are typical design ingredients of Palladio.... Palladio had made the designs of palaces which reflect the influences of the works of Alberti and Bramante in the earlier stages of his career before he engaged to the invention of the popular villa typologies...... Villas: Are new types of country residences made to met the desire of estate owners. Generally.. in which Palladio designed them by recognizing the less importance to have large palaces in the country side as modelled for cities.. Particularly.. his designs for secular buildings lie under two categories: Palaces: Are city residences built for families whose political life was centered in the cities... As a matter of fact...... which are considered as 'perfect' in the classical period....... bankers and Venetian patricians....... Palladio is legendary in the practice of domestic architecture. basically square and circle..............

. Consist of three main floors: Basement/ground floor for services or minor rooms.Weekend retreat villas. laundries and cellars First floor or 'piano noble' organized by public spaces. borrowed from the Greek temple front Type III. Type I. which potentially don't offer such pleasant opportunities. Farm houses/villas. Elements of villa design: Palladio schematized the plan of a house with consistent use of certain elements and principles.Roman temple font portico/roofed porch: Palladio is best known in adapting the facades of the classical Greek and Roman temples to the elevations of his villas. Greco . at the central axis on which symmetrical rectangular rooms ranging from large to small sizes arranged left and right that are used by the family and their guests. entertaining important guests. in addition to the common type of functions included in the design of villas. generally he developed three types of entrance porticoes to his villas which came to be known as Palladian. serve for relaxing.. store-rooms... and administrative offices. a loggia pierced by three openings of Roman arches Type II. these residences basically differ from the first ones by incorporating some more spaces used for storage of grains and valuable products of the estate... a two floor double-columned loggia with full height columns at two levels 5 .. a square or a circle... such as: Kitchens. Centralized/Radial plan: The configuration often consists of one dominant central space. hunting. The buildings also are powerful to impress the tenants and advertise the presence of the owner across a largely flat territory. and getting away from the city... Low mezzanine floor for secondary accommodations and for storage of grains in the case of farm villas.... are built as a centre for controlling the productive activity of the areas from which the owner's income was derived. which simultaneously helps to insulate the main floor.. logia and sala... SOME OF THE VILLAS DESIGNED BY PALLADIO WITH PICTURES WILL BE ADDED.. which is surrounded by the hierarchic arrangement of primary and secondary spaces all together linked by straight axial corridors radiating from the center outwards to the porticoes and the exterior space.

.... Blackwell Publishing.............. This is derived from the ancient roman temple architecture based on the idea borrowed from 6 ... Volume I.cisapalladio....wikipedia.. Ackerman........ to create an acropolis within a http://www. references: Harry Francis http://www.. 2006...... PICTURES AND ILLUSTRATIONS WILL BE http://en... websites: http://www........................... USA.... An Anthology From Vitruvius To 1870.high basement and external accessed by . Architectural http://lookuparchitecture......flight of steps The main floor of the Palladian villa is raised on an elevated podium accessed by grand external steps.....

Among many other important names of this period. materiality. so characteristic for Renaissance and High Renaissance. the one that was derived from ancient legacy of Rome but echoed even in modern and postmodern styles. he was the one Renaissance architect who was the most influential. Why was Palladio so influential? Why are his works so powerful? Why his architecture was inspiration for many even several hundred years after his death? A single Palladio’s work had to be chosen to represent all of our considerations and to answer all of our questions. We feel the burden of exploring historical buildings to be much heavier than criticizing works of our contemporaries. Indeed. What could be more convenient for this other than Villa Capra. This is where we reach for help from Vitruvius. true Palladio’s masterpiece? It is not very common for residential architecture to become a legend and Villa Capra is one of the rare examples. High Renaissance was the most obvious choice since we wanted to focus on a particular point in fruitful Italian history of art and architecture. our attention was captured by the name of Andrea Palladio. commodity. but to try to understand La Rotonda through “classical lenses”. delight. desire. Some of the best known “followers” of La Rotonda are Chiswick House by Lord Burlington and Monticello by Thomas Jefferson. As we know. We were drawn by this fact as much as we were drawn by visual impression of his works and we needed to find out the reason for all of this. firmitas and venustas. Palladio certainly studied Vitruvius and accepted many of his principles. we decided not to apply contemporary reasoning. utility. For this reason. together with much later Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye. for firmitas solidity. Moreover. La Rotonda was important for reintroducing of a central plan and it is example of perfect symmetry. Translations offered for utilitas are function. there are three qualities of architecture: utilitas.PALLADIO’S MASTERPIECE: VILLA CAPRA (LA ROTONDA) We approached this research with a desire to deepen our understanding and knowledge of Italian spirit and sensibility. strength and for venustas beauty. Palladio is one of the most imitated architects of all times and even entire style was named after him (Palladianism or Palladian style). Sometimes it might be unfair to measure the past by the means of the present. As described by Vitruvius and accepted in Renaissance. 7 . We were determined to discover the rules but also the filings behind an architecture that we recognize as Italian. It also represents very well the influence of Palladio since there are many examples and variations of later works by other architects based on Villa Capra (La Rotonda). Our goal on further pages will be to explain how Palladio’s La Rotonda corresponds to each of these Vitruvian categories. Discovery of “The Ten Books on Architecture” by Vitruvius was one of the most important events for the birth of Renaissance. The treatise was written in the first century BC and it became inevitable reading and source of knowledge about antiquity during Renaissance.

As many other Palladio’s villas. accommodates utility rooms and supporting functions. beside the rooms for welcoming guests. he decided to return to his hometown Vicenza and build a suburban villa. The Ten Books on Architecture.”2 To better understand the function of the Villa and to be able to judge effectiveness of the solution. Palladio himself listed it under “palaces” in his famous treatise The Four Books on Architecture. which will be in detail explained later on.Utilitas “Convenience (will be assured) when the arrangement of the apartments is faultless and presents no hindrance to use. recreation and enjoying nature. bedrooms would be located in piano nobile. reprinted 2009. It was intended for La Rotonda to be an escape from city life. “The site is pleasant and delightful as can be found. Milano 1980. 1914. Palace is a city residence. The two main types of Palladian villas are farmhouse and weekend retreat. Oxford University Press. while villa could be described as a countryside retreat. In La Rotonda this is not the case because no one was supposed to spend the night there. Cambridge. La Rotonda was not a part of an agricultural estate and there was no need for any production-following facilities. Commissioner of the Villa was Paolo Almerico. In La Rotonda. although usual function of this space in many other villas was residential (more private and secondary rooms). After his retirement. Access for servants to the semi-basement is provided from the level of the terrain. easily accessible hill with the navigable river Bacchiglione on one side and hills encompassing the other. semibasement. and when each class of building is assigned to its suitable and appropriate exposure. it gives an impression of a very grandiose theatre”3 as described by Palladio himself. page 18 8 . Normally. London: Humphrey Milford. we need to be introduced to some facts. a place for social activities. As far as it is from a “villa-farm”. Page 17 3 Andrea Palladio. The main floor. La Rotonda has three floors. I Qvattro Libri dell’Archittettvra. this space was changed to living space during eighteenth century. Supplying was easy and convenient since the city is less than a quarter of a mile away. Il Secondo Libro dell’Archittetvra. In fact. The site that was chosen was at the hilltop just outside the city. cleric who successfully served under two popes in Rome. The types of Palladian villas and palaces had been briefly explained in the first part of this paper. 2 Vitruvius. Harvard University Press. the one that will become known throughout the world as a perfect achievement of High Renaissance. The last floor with smaller height and no windows was originally intended for storage. also known as piano nobile. La Rotonda could rather be called “villa-temple”. is the representative part of the Villa interior. it contains principal reception and it is accessed through four elevated porticos. because it is upon a small. Urlico Hoepli. The lowest floor.

have rectangular shape and simple proportions that Palladio propagates in The Four Books on Architecture. he or she will be guided to the central hall. together with porticos. The piano nobile is easily accessible from all directions through four identical porticos. Elevation of this level. This is the most important and representative room of the Villa. In conclusion. 9 .The piano nobile plan has a shape of a perfectly symmetrical Greek cross with two axes of symmetry. enables splendid view of the surroundings. where proportion of one part to another is the same as proportion of a bigger part to a whole. which was made possible because of special circumstances given by the commissioner. This is a great “comeback” of a central plan. As a person enters the Villa from any of its porticos. which are arranged around this central hall. Other rooms. To be precise. we can say that brilliance of the plan of La Rotonda comes from its simplicity and convenience. It has a circular shape and it is cover by cupola with oculus which provides natural lighting. Study of golden ratio can also be found in Vitruvius treatise. other rooms are proportioned according to “golden ratio”.

Firmitas “Durability will be assured when foundations are carried down to the solid ground and materials wisely and liberally selected. Page 17 10 . Harvard University Press. London: Humphrey Milford. The Ten Books on Architecture. Oxford University Press. while just the finest details are made from stone. Most of the elements are made from stucco-covered brick. 4 Vitruvius. 1914.”4 Construction system of Villa Capra is typical for the period it was built in: bearing masonry. Cambridge.

He is known to be able to create a work of art even with very limited funds and in cases of “second grade” buildings. when its members are due proportion according to correct principles of symmetry. Oxford University Press. Cambridge. The Ten Books on Architecture. The settings were perfect for this: La Rotonda arises on the hilltop just as if it was put on a pedestal.” 5 As mentioned before. temple built in second century and dedicated to “all gods”. churches. Harvard University Press. for example. Central plan. But what exactly makes Villa Capra a “villa-temple” type? Palladio chose to glorify the Villa as the symbol of personal and family values. 1914. and it is considered that inspiration for La Rotonda was famous Pantheon in Rome. Villa Capra could be considered as “villa-temple” type. where he showed that residential architecture could be as magnificent as that of. 5 Vitruvius. the cupola and the porticos of La Rotonda remind of this temple. London: Humphrey Milford. Page 17 11 . This is an interesting innovation by Palladio. Central plan came from a typical ancient temple.Venustas “Beauty (will be assured) when the appearance of the work is pleasing and in good taste.

Symmetry 12 .

INFLUENCE 13 . 14 .com www. Web sites www. The Ten Books on Architecture.wikipedia. Ulrico Hoepli Editore. Penguin Books Tavernor Robert.villalarotonda. Palladio and Palladianism. 2009 Ackerman James www.Bibliography Palladio Andrea. Palladio.. www.greatbuildings. Thames & Hudson world of art Vitruvius. I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura.

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