Renaissance Architecture

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Assignment No. 2
09 February 2013
History of Architecture II

Renaissance Architecture in Italy

Geographical
Renaissance in Italy is best considered geographically under the three great distinctive cities of activities. Florence, Rome and Venice.
Florence. One of the chief powers of Italy. A centrally situated city-state. The Florentines notonly exerted considerable influence over the whole of Tuscany but carried Renaissance architecture, which originated with them, much farther afield.

Rome. The distressed Medieval city began to recover its prestige and unique influence while the Renaissance was taking root in Florence, and soon popes were reviving its glories in fine architecture. The ruins of ancient Rome supplied the models for new buildings.

Venice. Its high-point took place during the Medieval period and continued in the Renaissance times. Located in the Venetian lagoon, protected by a belt of islands.

Geological

Florence. The quarries of Tuscany yielded ample fine stone. Siena supplied of yellow and white marbles. From Carrara came the famed white marble- The Luna marble of Roman times- and also colored. In the Milan region, where brick and terra-cotta were normal, colored marbles could be obtained.

Rome. Good building stone of many varieties was available, the finest being travertine. In previous periods, Renaissance builders often found the decaying pagan buildings a much more handy source.

Venice. The city was devoid of suitable materials, but brick earths were accessible on the nearby mainland, and by easy water carriage system, stones, timber and marbles could be obtained according to need.

Climatic

Florence. Bright and sunny climate rendered large windows not only unnecessary but also unsuitable. Open courts, sheltering colonnades and low-pitched roofs were present.
Rome. The narrow streets of Italy gave protection to the sun and winter cold.
Venice. Due to the extreme heat of summer sun tempered by sea breezes, balconies were usual.

Architectural Character

The Renaissance in Italy may be divided broadly into three main periods:
Early Renaissance – Fifteenth century
High Renaissance and Proto-Baroque – Sixteenth century
Baroque –Seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries

Florence. A type of palace-building evolved to which huge blocks of rusticated masonry give an unusually massive and rugged appearance. There is an absence of pilasters as decorations for the facades. The columnar arcade is a favorite feature not only in courtyards but also in streets. Early renaissance churches are conspicuous for refinement, in strong contrast to the fortress-like characters of the palaces. Florence contains many examples of Early Renaissance architecture.

Rome. The Early Renaissance in Rome is comparatively unimportant, though some great buildings were completed in the various Papal States. Roman palaces have “four-square” majesty and dignity. Classic orders were used as giant arrangement to extend the whole height of the building. The Byzantine-type centralized church plan retained its popularity. Palaces maintained their cliff-like character, and generally were astylar, their planning now extremely adept and incorporating grand axial staircases and dignified ceremonial apartments, often of circular, elliptical or other regular geometric shapes. Church facades were richly ornated with clusters of pilasters and columns, and have great vigour of expression. Unity is strongly marked.

Venice. The architecture of Venice is, in general, lighter and more graceful than of Florence. A notable Venetian feature is the central grouping of windows, marking deep rooms behind the comparatively flat palace facades which outline the waterways. Balconies are graceful important features, their projection s adding to the play of light and shade. Palace plans normally were compact, owing to the cramped and precious sites.

Notable examples:
Early Renaissance examples in Florence...
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