Architecture in Italian Renaissance 1400-1600: Descriptive Essay

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Architecture and art have embraced the application of proportions within the natural world for years. These elements marked the Italian Renaissance period (1400-1600) that represented the classical culture in architecture. During this time, the measurements of musical intervals and the human body expressed harmony within the architectural models. Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect (1508-1580), pioneered the proportion rules on dimensions of the room in line with Renaissance geometry (mathematics) for the erection of structures that were purposed to demonstrate harmony to users and viewers. However, since there is inadequate data on these proportions selection, it is uncertain whether these buildings are mere geometrical presentations of the human experience or concepts or whether they have a place in influencing the social ideal and functional characteristics within the entire buildings or rooms only. This paper will address the doubts by showing how the Villa Rotonda building model is suitable to the desires of your model. It adopts composition rules that handle proportion, symmetry, and orders, which are considered essential tools in achieving harmony and beauty.

Villa Rotonda is a Palladian Villa universal icon, which takes the shape of a suburban house built close to the city walls rather than typical villas established away from cities. The architectural plan for this building is modeled in a manner that the design and topography highlight the structure’s prominence. The Villa can be regarded as a temple because its form mirrors the concept of harmony and order. This building design would consist of a hemisphere and cubicle design. The most vital part of the plan is the centralized arrangement of the building.

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Several precedents for centralized designs exist before and after the Renaissance period. For example, Michelangelo, Alberti, and Bramante all described their fondness with a central model within religious structures. Another example of buildings with an initial plan includes the famous Pantheon. Whereas the Pantheon model is centrally designed, its portico generates an axial movement. Thus it is not preferably central. There is a challenge in attaching the rectangular portico to the cylindrical form. Therefore its dome and pediment contrast the façade.

Within Villa Rotunda, there is an original and effective solution, where the circle would be inserted into the square to tackle the issue of joining the straight line and the curve. Emphasis is on the four zones of the square model to ensure the structure is symmetrical in all four areas, thus creating a central plan building.

As a testament, the central plan would be fixed on the Villa’s location. The Villa will be on a hill where it is easy to change position and have a sight of the four sides, with porticos suited to the four corners to enhance the view of the scenery. In contrast, other Villas have a central hall with a cross-shape axis; however, Villa Rotunda would have a circle like the central room. The emphasis would also be laid on the center by erecting a dome on its top, to create the external form hierarchy. The dome would have clay tiles placed on its exterior corbel surface. Secondly, the lower floors would be suited with a vaulted basement that defines the height of the design. Thirdly, on the facades, the only arched openings would be the sides of the patios.


According to the Books published by Palladio, one cannot ascertain whether a Villa’s measurements are deliberately made to have any connection to harmonic proportions. No room dimensions adhere to the interpretation by Wittkower on the harmonious proportions.

The corners of these rooms would, therefore, have measurements of 15 by 26 that can be estimated to be in the ratio of 1/3. However, this does not imply the other dimensions ratio. The dimensions can be organized as 30, 28, 13, 12, 11, and 6, with the sum added to 100. This number is a third within the monad series beginning with one, and then ten follows. The set displays unity in the Villa Rotunda model. The first figures give a total of 71 and the other three 29, where the numbers correlate within the plan. They signify the √3/3 and √2/1 incommensurable (not having a common factor) ratios. From the initial three numbers, the radius is 15, and 30 becomes the radius and an inscription of 26 on the equilateral triangle on it. The second sequence correlates to a pentagon that has seven sides and 11 chords, etched within a circle with a six radius, and 12 diameter measurements.

Additionally, these numbers would bring to mind primary shapes like the equilateral triangle, square, square, pentagon, and circle. These geometrical/mathematical correlations have been there since the Renaissance for the improvement of architectural models. The analysis also takes these measurement correlations above the confined musical intervals to the more fundamental mathematical link of the triangle, square, polygon, and circle. Thus, harmony can be pursued in the broader sensation than the harmonic proportion aspect.


Although less evidence exists on Palladio’s application of mathematical models, the technique toward space and form shows particular relationships with mathematics within geometry. Like this design in Villa Rotunda, the emphasis would be placed upon proportion dealings with a measurement that forms the fundamental Euclid theorems of the Renaissance period. This design applies simple Euclidean designs to highlight a technique for determining the vault using the breadth of the room. Likewise, to Palladio, this building would integrate the widths and heights within the plan, elevations, and segments, which form the two-dimensional projections of the structure. Two divisions, transcending along the cross-axis, define the interior spaces of Villa Rotunda. Thus, reflecting a two-dimensional methodology to space as a building complexity enhances with various sections necessitated to illustrate it. Regardless of the Renaissance architects’ perspective projection know-how, similar to Palladio, I embrace plans, elevations, and sections to be the symbol of a complete building.

Villa Rotunda uses squares and circles as the geometries like Palladio applied the same in his plans. Most villas were represented by cuboids shape, with components such as vaults and domes added to the structure. The vaults express the interior ceilings of the façade. This structure’s plan strictly follows orthogonal grids. These grids are finite, open-ended, and are in square housing. Similar to Palladio's ideas, the design of this building would have a clearly-defined central area, which forms the plan’s geometric center.


In conclusion, one of the vital features of Palladio’s design is the application of a range of forms he realized with finite components such as columns, vaults, pediments, fireplaces, flat ceilings, walls, and windows. These elements are arranged within an orthogonal grid and adopt axial arrangement and bilateral symmetry principles to help attain harmony. Similar to Palladio’s structures, this building embraces exact symmetry both within the elevations and plans. Palladio’s models often possess reflective symmetry with a single axis, with the exception of Villa Trosino, which like Villa Rotonda, takes the rotational symmetry.

Finally, in blend with the more sophisticated application of orders, this design aims at unifying the different elements of the plan, section, and elevation. This methodology was explained as a general maxim by Palladio: Beauty is derived from a graceful form and the correlation of the entirety of components and those components among themselves and to the entire structure. This is because structures must resemble full and well-defined bodies, where one member complements another, and all the parts are essential for the requirement.

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