Archive for the ‘1700s’ Category

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Spanish Steps

Architect: Alessandro Specchi

Location: Rome, Italy.

Date: 1721-1725

Building Type: Stairway

Architecture Styles: Baroque

Architectural Time Period: 1700s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. It is the widest staircase in Europe.

The monumental stairway of 138 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above — to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. The stairway was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Urban Design, Approach

Urban Design

In urban design strategy, the Spanish Stairs were built to unite Via del Babuino, which is the easternmost of the three main arteries radiating into the city from the Piazza del Popolo with Via Felice. It is the first great street planned by Sixtus V (1585). Their junction is crossed at an approximately right angle by Via Condotti, which defines the direction toward St. Peter’s and the Vatican. The architect Alessandro Specchi’s ideas were later assimilated by the chosen architect of the Stairs, Francesco de Sanctis. The very rich and varied solution ultimately employed by De Sanctis (1723-26) is based on a simple doubling in depth of the central theme from the Ripetta: a protruding volume flanked by convex stairs and a straight flight in front. The upper unit presents the theme in its basic form; the lower constitutes an articulate and lively variation.

Plan Diagram of Spanish Steps

Approach

On the way up or down, there are three landing area to take a “break” of the long approach within the two levels, which is a brilliant idea. These three landing areas function as resting space for people.

Photograph taken at the bottom of the piazza, we can see people seating on the steps to take a rest

One of the landing area while walking up

Views from the upper-most landing area, looking towards the piazza and the main commercial street

The curve away staircase while walking up, this gesture has successfully connected the upper piazza and welcoming the circulation on a wider range

Approach and sectional diagram of Spanish Steps, which clearly shows the relationship of different levels

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Fontana di Trevi(Trevi Fountain)

Architect: Nicola Salvi

Location: Rome, Italy

Date: 1732-1762

Building Type: Fountain

Architecture Styles: Baroque

Architectural Time Period: 1700s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings)

The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy. Standing 26 meters (85.3 feet) high and 20 meters (65.6 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.

In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but when the Pope died, the project was abandoned. Though Bernini’s project was never constructed, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it exists today. An early, striking and influential model by Pietro da Cortona, preserved in the Albertina, Vienna, also exists, as do various early 18th century sketches, most unsigned, as well as a project attributed to Nicola Michetti one attributed to Ferdinando Fuga and a French design by Edme Bouchardon.

Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains, and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway.[9] Work began in 1732, and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Clement’s death, when Pietro Bracci’s Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche.

Salvi died in 1751, with his work half-finished, but before he went he made sure a stubborn barber’s unsightly sign would not spoil the ensemble, hiding it behind a sculpted vase, called by Romans the asso di coppe, the “Ace of Cups”.

The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and “Trivia”, the Roman virgin.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Baroque&Symmetry, Coin Throwing

Baroque&Symmetry

On an architecture perspective view, as a baroque fountain, Trevi fountain has the character of symmetry and free curves.It owns the nature of baroque style that exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture.


The top of the fountain was characterized by free and sculptural use of the classical orders and ornament, which is the baroque language, it gives a richness feeling for the skyline, at the same time, under its “free form”, it has the logic of classical orders, it has rational horizontal and vertical elements to form a symmetrical order.

Unlike the classical architecture, new emphasis was placed on domes, light-and-shade effects, and the bold play of volume and void, which we can tell clearly fro the facade.

Analytical sketch of the facade, I learned how to read the baroque language and classical order from it.

Coin Throwing

A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. This was the theme of 1954’s Three Coins in the Fountain and the Academy Award-winning song by that name which introduced the picture.An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s needy.

As the tradition manner, I throw a coin as well, hope I can be back to Rome in the future!