Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Tuesday, 27 February 2007
Parma's religious centre is a typical example of a medieval urban ensemble. The ambiguous character of the baptistery, as both a space occupier and a space definer, is amplified to a greater degree of complexity by the duomo itself. It closes vistas but also displaces space.
Monday, 26 February 2007
Sunday, 25 February 2007
The ruins of the Fora of Rome, the original Forum Romanum and the later Imperial Fora contain a few evocative remnants of their colonnades and porticoes in the form of standing columns, rising from below contemporary street level in the case of the Forum of Augustus (above), and standing on a high podium in the case of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina which saw later use as the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda.
Saturday, 24 February 2007
Aldo Rossi’s early substantial projects approached the issue of urban space in a stealthy manner, as if to break cover would impede the success of his strategy to recover urban values in architecture. The housing Rossi designed between 1969-70 at Gallaratese on the outskirts of Milan revealed the particular characteristics of his evocative use of typology. The principal public feature is the colonnade which runs the length of the block, providing a portico to the development on two related levels, the junction of which is negotiated by a monumental set of steps and four overscaled cylindrical columns. The daunting abstraction of this space is ameliorated by the delicate use of scale, with the endless colonnade made of frequently spaced fin walls, their dimensions related to the distance between the hands of an outstretched figure. The regularity of its form reflected its origins in traditional types of Lombard housing, however the refusal to articulate the uses to which its public element could be put meant that it was regarded as heartlessly oppressive and interpreted as a late flowering of fascism. Rossi’s principal references, historical tradition and the experience of the modern, were shared with fascist architecture. But he was working in a context where historical form had been mistrusted and modernity had became an internalised search for novelty. Its recovery and continuity of past forms is not dependent on amnesia with regard to the modern city, but the assimilation of its divergent strands. Rossi’s modest stance was that the city was beyond the capacity of design as control. Its political status had a symbiotic relationship with its form, where ends and means became one.
Friday, 23 February 2007
Michael Nyman's concert in Piazza Grande had to contend with the interventtion of both campanile and Palazzo Comunale bells, staggered so as not to clash with each other (church first).The concert beneath the flood lit apse confirmed the lesson of the infinite variety in the repetition of simple themes - in both architecture and music.
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
The group of urban objects in Piazza del Comune in Cremona present a confrontation between civic and religious powers. The palazzo in the foreground of the lower image contains the municipality's collection of the works of the city's most famous son, Antonio Stradivarius. Is their a connection between the scrolls on one of his creations and the volutes on the duomo facade.
Monday, 19 February 2007
San Crisogono in Trastevere (which is the oldest public place of christian worship in Rome) posseses, in addition to two fine porphyry columns flanking the apse, this splendid example of a floor created from the fragments of antique coloured marble columns and facings.
Sunday, 18 February 2007
Saturday, 17 February 2007
The facsimile of the ancient equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was placed on Michelangelo's plinth in the late 1990s. The original statue is displayed in the adjacent Palazzo Nuovo. It had been dismantled from its setting at the start of the Second World war, but was finally removed to prevent further environmental corrosion. Its replacement provides the dynamic, gestural centre to the space, here caught in the fading evening light.
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
The project to remodel the Capitoline Hill in Rome originated under Pope Paul III and his diplomatic efforts to cement an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Imperial forces had sacked Rome in 1527 and the city was still in the process of slow recovery from its devastation. The construction of the new basilica of St. Peter’s was proceeding, albeit at an unhurried pace, but the pope required a setting suitable civic grandeur for the entry in 1536 of the first emperor to visit his official capital since 1452. The centre of municipal government on the Campidoglio, overlooking the ruins of the Forum Romanum had the requisite resonance, although its actual state represented a far from dignified view. Two palaces formed an open space on the summit of the hill overshadowed by the huge medieval church of Sta. Maria in Aracoeli. Disparate elements were required to be integrated into any new project and its author therefore had to produce a work which had political significance, civic decorum and quasi-museum functions. The design which developed was initiated by Michelangelo but was not completed until long after his death in 1564, his posthumous reputation ensuring that the extensive subsequent work was a faithful reproduction of his recorded intentions.
The political dimension was served not only by the location of the work, but by its orientation, turning its back towards the Forum Romanum, because of the practical necessity of maintaining the Senator’s palace, but also framing the new direction of view towards the modern Rome that was developing, with the massive structure of St.Peter’s emerging on the horizon. This reorientation served to emphasise the city’s dependency on papal power rather than its independence as represented by its ancient origins. The decision to relocate the ancient bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius from the Lateran in 1538 also meant that the antiquarian character of the existing sculpture collection was to be superseded by an emblem of imperial power, emphasising images of rulership over communal democracy. The elliptical pavement swelling up within a slightly lowered central space provided the footing for the equestrian statue, helped deceive the eye as to the non-rectangularity of the plan, and provides a symbolic language for Rome’s claim to be the centre of the world.
Monday, 12 February 2007
Palladio's urban architecture in Vicenza made great use of the theatrical impact of a facade to create urban scenes, as illustrated in the wrapping of the basilica in two storeys of arcading, and the creation of a scenae frons in the Teatro Olimpico, completed by Scamozzi, with its false perspective diminishing streets.
Sunday, 11 February 2007
Palladio's church of San Giorgio Maggiore, on its island, commands the views across the bacino of San Marco, from the Doge's Palace above, and below from the Dogana. The facade's superimposed temple fronts, along with its siblings at Il Redentore and San Francesco della Vigna, established a new tradition in the compositional representation of a church.
Saturday, 10 February 2007
Giulio Romano's facades at the Palazzo Te in Mantua are only the most public expression of his mannerism. Enclosing the elaborately decorated narrative sequences of internal rooms, the exterior facade (above) and courtyard elevation (below)combine the use of refined orders of tuscan pilasters and engaged columns with heavily articulated rusticated surfaces and, on the interior elevation, the slipped triglyphs which hint at dissolution.
City gates present the opportunity for announcing the urban ideal to the surrounding chaos, both in preparation for entry into the city, as at the Porta Borsari in Verona (above), and in preparation for departure, as at Bernini's decoration of the Porta del Popolo in Rome (below).
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
The garden facade of the Villa Medici, on the Pincian hill in Rome, features a composition where the syncopated animation of the elevation is provided by the low relief panels depicting mythological scenes. The are fictively attached by garlands to the wall surface, and supplemented by images of antique masks, providing an alternative rhythm to that produced by the relatively spare fenestration.
The Mannerist villas of Rome are populated with architectural hybrids, such as the caryatids of the Casino of Pius IV in the Vatican, above, and the herms in the screen of the Villa Giulia, below.
Monday, 5 February 2007
This unusual example from Venice might serve to express how the new methods of depicting and conceiving of urban space began to appear in cities during the fifteenth century. The aesthetic problem of the perspectival articulation of an urban wall received a singular treatment at Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Here a facade was created for the Scuola Grande di San Marco (1489-94) where through the iconographic programme of a series of sculpted marble low relief panels, a virtual extension to the actual space was created which mediated between the life of the city and that of its patron saint. It is all the more extraordinary because of the sober but essentially unadorned facade of the gothic basilica. The scuola’s position as one of the great confraternities of the city meant the ostentatious display of wealth was seen within a specific social context of charitable provision. At ground level, pairings of scenes in barrel vaulted and flat ceilinged spaces by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo are carved from the wall plane in controlled perspectives which resonate with the antique language of the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni which stands in the campo.The length of the facade with its six bays was such that the perspective illusion takes place around two centres and with two different horizon lines.
Sunday, 4 February 2007
San Michele sits on the site of the forum of the original Roman settlement. The piazza is dominated by the tiered and columned facade of the church and its delicate campanile.