The 17th century in Ireland was a time of political unrest and violence. As a result, buildings were used mainly for defence purposes. Following William of Orange’s victory in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, a new prosperous, Protestant, landed gentry emerged who wished to display their wealth in building large country houses and public buildings. These were built at first in the Palladian style, based on the writings of Andrea Palladio. Later, neo-classicism became increasingly popular as more architects travelled to Rome to study its ancient buildings.
William Chambers was a prominent London architect of the Georgian period. He was born in Gotëborg and originally worked for the Swedish East India Company. He trained as an architect in Paris and later in Italy. While in Italy he met Lord Charlemont for whom he would design the Casino at Marino and a townhouse. Back in England, he became architectural tutor to the Prince of Wales and later architect to the King. This royal patronage allowed him to experiment in small-scale architecture ornament for Kew gardens, which provided him with experience for the design of the Casino.
The Casino at Marino was built in the 18th century as a summerhouse. It has little function and serves mainly as an expensive architectural exercise. From the outside it appears like a one-storied Greek temple. However it actually contains three storeys and a basement for servants.
The building is based on a Greek cross and is inscribed in Doric colonnades. It is richly decorated with sculptural ornament and decorative carving. Urns and columns are both decorative and functional. The urns serve to hide chimney pot while the columns hide drains. The entrance facade has a door that rises almost to the height of the columns, camouflaging the second storey. The windows are made of curved glass that reflects the exterior and hide the interior walls. On the north and south... [continues]
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