Sunday, 16 November 2008

Villa Rotonda and its progeny

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Palladio's best known building is the Villa Almerico-Capra, also known as "La Rotonda". It's an imposing building, situated on a hillside outside Vicenza. Construction began in 1566 and continued after Palladio's death in 1580.

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The layout of the villa is remarkably simple. As seen in the plan below, the house is a perfect square. Each side of the square has a matching facade, with steps leading up to a portico with columns and pediment. Inside, the floorplan is symmetrical, with the entrances on the four sides of the house leading into a circular central hall, topped by a dome.

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Palladio's design has been hugely influential. Several houses have been built in more or less direct imitation of La Rotonda, and many more have adapted design elements from it.

In England, Mereworth Castle in Kent was designed by Colen Campbell in the 1720s.

A more recent design, again directly inspired by La Rotonda, is Henbury Hall in Cheshire, built in 1984.

Other houses that do not attempt to copy La Rotonda directly, but are still very recognizable as her offspring include:

Chiswick House in West London, designed by Lord Burlington and William Kent and built in 1726-29.

Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virgina, designed by Thomas Jefferson. Construction began in 1768 and was finally completed in 1809 when the dome was erected.

Finally, as proof of La Rotonda's significance, a scaled-down version of the house appears at Legoland.


Pigtown-Design said...

From monticello to legoland! That's pretty inclusive.

We spent a few minutes at the Market this morning telling Tish stories. You were remembered.

Sir Fopling Flutter said...

Thanks Fairfax - although I'm a little worried about being mentioned in the same breath as her.