Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

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San Biagio in Montepulciano

Architect: Antonio da Sangallo the Elder

Location: Montepulciano, Italy.

Building Type: Church

Architecture Styles: Expressionist

Architectural Time Period: 1500s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Suburban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

The church is an example of Renaissance Greek cross central plan, it was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, who was inspired by the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato, which had been designed years before by his brother Giuliano da Sangallo. The same plan, taken from Filippo Brunelleschi’s works, was used for the original design by Bramante and Michelangelo for St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as for the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Todi, of uncertain paternity.

The late Renaissance building was constructed on the site of a pre-existing Palaeochristian pieve dedicated to St. Mary and subsequently to St. Blaise. In the early 16th century only remains existed of the pieve, including a wall with a fresco of Madonna with Child and St. Francis, from a 14th century Sienese painter. The project was supported by Pope Leo X, who had studied under Angelo Poliziano, a native of Montepulciano.

The construction lasted until 1580 and, after Sangallo’s death, was directed by other superintendents.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Geometry

 

Geometry

The church has a Greek cross plan, with a central dome supported by a drum. The side opposite to the entrance has a semi-circular apse. The main façade, whose scheme is repeated (with some minor changes) on the two side ones, is divided into two sectors by a large entablature featuring a frieze with triglyphs and metopes which runs for the whole perimeter of the edifice. The lower sector houses the portal, on which is the foundation date.

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Saint Peter’s Basilica

Architect: Collective

Location: Vatican City

Date: 1506-1626

Building Type: Church

Architecture Styles: Renaissance

Architectural Time Period: 1500s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, commonly known as Saint Peter’s Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City. Designed principally by Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Bernini, St Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.

In Roman Catholic tradition, the basilica is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, was the first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter’s tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter’s since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.

St Peter’s is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions. Because of its location in the Vatican, the Pope presides at a number of services throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Vatican Basilica, or in St Peter’s Square. St Peter’s has many strong historical associations, with the Early Christian church, the papacy, the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. Saint Peter’s is one of the four churches of Rome that hold the rank of Major Basilica. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral as it is not the seat of a bishop; the cathedra of the Bishop of Rome is located in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Baldacchino, Structural Member

Baldacchino

The altar with Bernini’s baldacchino

Bernini’s first work at St. Peter’s was to design the baldacchino, a pavilion-like structure 30 metres (98 ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, which stands beneath the dome and above the altar. Its design is based on the ciborium, of which there are many in the churches of Rome, serving to create a sort of holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist and emphasizing the significance of this ritual. These ciboria are generally of white marble, with inlaid coloured stone. Bernini’s concept was for something very different. He took his inspiration in part from the baldachin or canopy carried above the head of the pope in processions, and in part from eight ancient columns that had formed part of a screen in the old basilica. Their twisted barley-sugar shape had a special significance as the column to which Jesus was bound before his crucifixion was believed to be of that shape. Based on these columns, Bernini created four huge columns of bronze, twisted and decorated with olive leaves and bees, which were the emblem of Pope Urban.

The baldacchino is surmounted not with an architectural pediment, like most baldacchini, but with curved Baroque brackets supporting a draped canopy, like the brocade canopies carried in processions above precious iconic images. In this case, the draped canopy is of bronze, and all the details, including the olive leaves, bees, and the portrait heads of Urban’s niece in childbirth and her newborn son, are picked out in gold leaf. The baldacchino stands as a vast free-standing sculptural object, central to and framed by the largest space within the building. It is so large that the visual effect is to create a link between the enormous dome which appears to float above it, and the congregation at floor level of the basilica. It is penetrated visually from every direction, and is visually linked to the Cathedra Petri in the apse behind it and to the four piers containing large statues that are at each diagonal.

 

Structural Member

The main structural member I am focused on is the column, they has a large scale and the dimensions are noted in the sketch

The size of the column is huge compared to the size of a person

 

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San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

Architect: Francesco Borromini

Location: Rome, Italy.

Date: 1646

Building Type: Church

Architecture Styles: Baroque

Architectural Time Period: 1600s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

The Church of Saint Charles at the Four Fountains is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, Italy. Designed by the architect Francesco Borromini, it was his first independent commission. It is an iconic masterpiece of Baroque architecture, built as part of a complex of monastic buildings on the Quirinal Hill for the Spanish Trinitarians, an order dedicated to the freeing of Christian slaves. He received the commission in 1634, under the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, whose palace was across the road. However, this financial backing did not last and subsequently the building project suffered various financial difficulties. It is one of at least three churches in Rome dedicated to San Carlo, including San Carlo ai Catinari and San Carlo al Corso.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Interior

Interior

The church interior is both extraordinary and complex. There are three principal parts that was identified vertically as the lower order at ground level, the transition zone of the pendentives and the oval coffered dome with its oval lantern.

In the lower part of the church, the main altar is on the same longitudinal axis as the door and there are two altars on the cross axis. Between these, and arranged in groups of four, sixteen columns carry a broad and continuous entablature. The arrangement seems to refer to a cross plan but all the altars are visible as the two central columns in each arrangement of four are placed on the oblique with respect to the axial ordering of the space. This creates an undulating movement effect which is enhanced by the variation in treatment of the bays between the columns with niches, mouldings, and doors. Architectural historians have described how the bay structure of this lower order can have different rhythmic readings and the underlying geometric rationale for this complex ground plan, as well as discussing the symbolism of the church and the distinctive architectural drawings of Borromini.

The dome with its intricate geometrical pattern

The pendentives are part of the transition area where the undulating almost cross-like form of the lower order is reconciled with the oval opening to the dome. The arches which spring from the diagonally placed columns of the lower wall order to frame the altars and entrance, rise to meet the oval entablature and so define the space of the pendentives in which roundels are set.

The oval entablature to the dome has a ‘crown’ of foliage and frames a view of deep set interlocking coffering of octagons, crosses and hexagons which diminish in size the higher they rise. Light floods in from windows in the lower dome that are hidden by the oval opening and from windows in the side of the lantern. In a hierarchical structuring of light, the illuminated lantern with its symbol of the Holy Trinity is the most brightly lit, the coffering of the dome is thrown into sharp and deep relief and light gradually filters downwards to the darker lower body of the church.

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Sant’Agnese in Agone

Architect: Francesco Borromini

Location: Rome, Italy.

Date: 1652-1672

Building Type: Church

Architecture Styles: Baroque

Architectural Time Period: 1600s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

Sant’Agnese in Agone is a 17th century Baroque church in Rome, Italy. It faces onto the Piazza Navona, one of the main urban spaces in the historic center of the city.

The rebuilding of the church was begun in 1652 at the instigation of Pope Innocent X whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza and was adjacent to the site of the new church. The church was to be effectively a family chapel annexed to their residence. A number of architects were involved in the construction of the church, including Girolamo Rainaldi and his son Carlo Rainaldi, and two of the foremost Baroque architects of the day; Francesco Borromini and the sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini.

The name of this church is unrelated to the ‘agony’ of the martyr: in agone was the ancient name of Piazza Navona (piazza in agone), and meant instead, from the Greek, ‘in the site of the competitions’, because Piazza Navona was built on the form of an ancient Roman stadium on the Greek model, with one flat end, and was used for footraces. From ‘in agone’, the popular use and pronunciation changed the name into ‘Navona’, but other roads in the area kept the original name.

 

My own exploration:

Keywords: Baroque& Interior Decorations

 

Baroque& Interior Decorations

We are not allowed to take photos when we can to the interior, I can introduce some of the information: there are a number of large scale sculptures in this church, including the marble relief in the main altar, placed in a setting installed by Carlo Rainaldi and Ciro Ferri, that depicts the Miracle of Saint Agnes, initially commissioned from Alessandro Algardi and completed by Ercole Ferrata and Domenico Guidi in 1688, under constraints that their product must remain in conformity with the original Algardi design. The Sacred Family altarpiece (third to the right) is also by Domenico Guidi.

The altar dedicated to Saint Alexius, depicting his death, was completed by Giovanni Francesco Rossi. The stucco decoration of angels by Ferrata with the symbols of the Saint: pilgrim’s staff and flower crown. The altar depicting the Martyrdom of Sant’Emerenziana is by Ercole Ferrata. He also completed Sant’Agnese and the flame, Leonardo Retti completed the superior portions. The altar depicting the Death of Santa Cecilia was executed by Antonio Raggi. Stucco angel decorations (with musical instruments) by Ercole Ferrata with fresco designs by Ciro Ferri. The altarpiece of the Martyrdom of St. Eustace was commissioned to Melchiorre Caffà, but generally completed after Caffà’s early death by Ferrata and Giovanni Francesco Rossi. The statue of Saint Sebastian Martyr is by Pietro Paolo Campi.

Sketch of the main alter

One characteristic of Baroque architecture is ‘painterly’ color effects, I was caught by this notion when I saw the main alter of this church, also, it has fascinating detailing with free curves and romantic motion.

 

 

 

 

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Santa Maria delle Pace / Bramante Cloister

Architect: Donato Bramante

Location: Rome, Italy.

Date: 1478 – 1483

Building Type: Church

Architecture Styles: Renaissance

Architectural Time Period: 1400s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings)

Just behind Piazza Navona with its street artists and baroque fountains, you can find the little church of Santa Maria della Pace with its distinctive semi-circular portico. This Renaissance church was built for Pope Sixtus IV in 1480-84 with its Baroque style facade added in 1656.

According to legend, the reason the church was squeezed into this small piazza was that it was here a soldier pierced the breast of a painted Madonna causing it to bleed. To placate her, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) ordered the building of a new church if she would bring the war with Turkey to an end. The deal was done and the result was this church which was actually built over the remains of an existing one.

A main feature of the church and monastery complex is the Bramante cloister, which was added creating a sanctuary of calm which is now home to concerts and an art gallery. Built in 1500-1504 for Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, it was the first work of Donato Bramante in the city. It has two levels: the first is articulated by shallow pilasters set against an arcade; the second also has pilasters set against an arcade which is vertically continuous with the lower storey, but with columns located in between each arch span.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Exterior, Interior, Cloister

Exterior

The facade of the church has two orders and is entered by a semi-circular pronaos with paired Doric columns. The church presses forward almost to fill its tiny piazza, the church facade also focused on architectural detailing, the play of concave and convex forms at varying scales in and around the predominant main facade masks the neighboring buildings, extends the apparent breadth of the facade and so increases the visual impact on the spectator physically confined by the small trapezoidal piazza. Something I also learned from the exterior also include the fact that the monumental effect of the plasticity of forms, spatial layering and chiaroscuro lighting effects belies the actual scale of this urban intervention.

Plan diagram of the church and small portion of its adjacent cloister

Interior

The interior can be reached from the original fifteenth-century door, has a short nave with cruciform vaulting and a tribune surmounted by a cupola. The interior of the dome was supported by a series of ribs radiating from the lantern. This is an early example of combining these two forms of dome decoration. Carlo Maderno designed the high altar (1614) to enframe the venerable icon of the Madonna and Child.

The interior view at the entrance, the color of the material plays a harmony set

Different type of openings brings light into the interior

Interior shot showing the openings and roof structure

Cloister

The entrance of the cloister

the cloister was designed for quiet contemplation, So the entrance way has a deep depth away from the street, it is one of those spots that is perfect when we are overwhelmed by the city of Rome.

The courtyard of the cloister. Bramante cloister has two stories, where the heavy piers with applied orders in sequence (Corinthian and Ionic). From what I know, the trabeation of the upper story, and the unadorned, sculpturesque power of the lower story, were derived from systems used in the Colosseum, and the Theater of Marcellus.

Plan diagram of the cloister, including the courtyard patterning, thus showing the proportion of the space, the cloister forms a square itself. As the floor patterning suggests, it has the self-concentrated spatial quality.

View from the second story, which was open to public as a restaurant and bookstore.

Trabeation system of the upper story

Tectonic sketch showing the trabeation system of the second level arcade.

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Chiesa dell’Autostrada del Sole

Architect: Giovanni Michelucci

Location: Florence, Italy.

Date: 1960-1963

Building Type: Church

Architecture Styles: Expressionist

Architectural Time Period: 1900s

Construction Type: Concrete and Brick

Context: Suburban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings):

Dell’Autostrada del Sole is a church in Florence, Italy, designed by architect Giovanni Michelucci. The church is formally named after John the Baptist but has also earned the name Church of the Freeway of the Sun for its location between autostrada del Sole (Freeway of the Sun) and the A11 Firenze-Mare highway.

The design of the church is meant to reflect both modern and traditional church design. The stone facing evokes a traditional feel while the tent-like vertical elements and copper roofing reflect modern design tastes. The church stands 27.5 meters (88.5 ft) high.

It was built between 1960 and 1963, based on plans by Giovanni Michelucci. The materials used for the building are stone and concrete for the walls, copper for the roof, oxidized to green on the outside and burnished blond on the inside. Marble, glass and bronze are used for the interior elements. The floorplan of the building is asymmetrical and follows sinuous curves creating a feeling of fluid space. The church is decorated with works of Marcello Avenali, Jorio Vivarelli, Dilvo Lotti and Luigi Venturini.

The intentions of the church builders was to honor the workers who had died during construction of the freeway and to provide a “parish for the tourists” so those who are traveling can have a place to worship.

The Autostrada del Sole is a reflection of two great societal changes of the 1960s, a society moving toward a more mobile and itinerant culture and the new religious ideas brought forward in the Second Vatican Council pronouncements.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Sculpture&Organic, Material, Light&Opening, Structure Expression

Today we visited the famous Giovanni Michelucci’s church:Dell’Autostrada del Sole,as the photo indicates, you’ll see the highway church as you’re driving down the A1, negotiating the ramps around the Firenze Nord exit. As for me, it functions as an organic sculpture for people moving through this particular area, as the idea for Michelucci is to “stop” the drivers here, not so much for physical rest, but for some spiritual uplifting. The church was thus developed as a kind of “traffic stopper” that ought to slow motorists down. My own feeling is that its open shapes and continuity with the level and land of the highway itself were also intended as welcoming.

I started by circling all 360 degrees of the exterior as I felt invited to do so by a raised walkway that takes you around to admire each facet of the building. It’s surprising by walking around this structure because for every few steps,  I can see a different shape, shadow and texture, which gives me the feeling of organic.

Material

From the exterior, I felt that the use of material is brilliant, on the base, the use of the rusticated stone indicates a feeling of heaviness, which benefits for a church: as a spiritual holly place for people to worship, the base has to be stable in order to show the strong “foundation”.

The material for the upper part is copper oxidized to green, which gives the feeling of lightness and modern, it reflects more light in order to show the contrast to the heavy base, as a result, the roof is light and bright, and the green color coordinates well with the surrounding green nature: trees and grass, which gives a harmoniousness and balance to the surrounding area.

This a quick sketch I did for analyze the building form and its relationship to the site. First, the building is spiraling up itself from the heavy base to the top cross. Second, the logic of choosing the material color is: heavy color connected to a light color, that is, the base connecting the roof, surrounding trees and the grass ground. It is a deep logic of combination of balanced color.

Light&Opening

The church has some brilliant solution of openings, it tells us tectonic ideas and how to bring light into the interior, I focus on the apertures and effect of light while visiting the church, here is my discovery.

This is a small opening occurring  on the stone base, as we can see, it tells us the tectonic idea of how to make a opening: a concrete lintel seats above the load-bearing wall, since it is a small opening, I think the function of it was to bring spot light into space to draw people’s attention.

Large openings near the alter, from my point of view, the irregular mullion is mimicking the stone base supporting it.

The vertical apertures, there are three types of lintels: the end-supported, cantilever and sandwich. which are marked in the photo.

Different type of openings on the base and upper part, I think it is the architect’s notion to celebrate the different tectonic system of the base and upper part.

A stone stands right front the window all the way to the bottom of the lintel

A stone stands right front the window half way to the bottom of the lintel

Apertures at the entrance, it celebrate the transparency of the entrance as well as bring more light into the lobby

As we enter the church, the openings of the lobby seems more regular, because the lobby has a certain linear rhythm, the language of the openings and roof structure follow the rhythm, this is something I learn as a designer.

The interior light effect, we can see the different light reflecting quality of stone and concrete, the stone has a more rough surface, the light was absorbed a lot. The concrete surface is more smooth, thus reflecting more light, that why Michelucci place the concrete at upper level.

With the help of the concrete roof, as mentioned above, the space was well lighted.

The aperture here has two different types, at the bottom, the linear aperture brings vertical light and the view was framed along the edge of the adjacent mass, the aperture at the top opens up to the sky to give more depth for the space. At the same time, it is a separation of two materials.

This window frames the view of the courtyard, as a vertical linear visual experience.

The horizontal window appears at the alter of the church, both in lower level and upper level, the horizontality nature of the aperture brings more light into the space.

The well designed aperture helps light up the interior

Compared to horizontal window, the function of vertical window has a different quality of welcoming light

Vertical, spotted and large aperture work together based on the geometry and function of the space


This window show the depth of the courtyard

The aperture reflect the nature of the space

Interesting combination of geometry and materials

The mezzanine was well lighted by the aperture on both side: the alter and the gallery space.

Structure and Element Expression

The structure and element of the church is mimicking the irregularity and organic quality of the nature

The vertical tree like structural element give a feeling of nature, in fact is the concrete member painter with tree bark grains

The roofing structure above the lobby space

The guardrail for the mezzanine is the irregular cross

The irregular cross guardrail for a spiral stair

The organic roof structure

Tempietto Barbaro

photograph showing the side arcade

The Tempietto at the Villa Barbaro in Maser was completed around 1580, and as such is considered to be Palladio’s last work (along with the Teatro Olimpico). This is the first religious structure built to be attached to a Palladian villa. The tempietto is refined, as it filled the function both of villa chapel and parish church. It is based most evidently on the Pantheon in Rome, but architecturally the plan of the building is innovative because it combines a cylinder and a Greek cross, with four massive piers buttressing the dome. From reading I learned that the idealism of the tempietto’s centralized plans were religious and philsophical in nature.

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Scrovegni Chapel is a church in Padua, Veneto, Italy. It contains a fresco cycle by Giotto, completed about 1305, that is one of the most important masterpieces of Western art. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria della Carità at the Feast of the Annunciation, 1303, and consecrated for use in 1305. Giotto’s fresco cycle focuses on the life of the Virgin Mary and celebrates her role in human salvation. The chapel is also known as the Arena Chapel because it was built on land purchased by Enrico Scrovegni that abutted the site of a Roman arena. This space is where an open-air procession and sacred representation of the Annunciation to the Virgin had been played out for a generation before the chapel was built. A motet by Marchetto da Padova appears to have been composed for the dedication on March 25, 1305.

The chapel was attached to a new palace built by Enrico Scrovegni and was ostensibly a family oratory, but it also served some public functions related to the Feast of the Annunciation. Apart from Giotto’s paintings, the chapel is unornamented and features a barrel vault roof. Giotto’s Last Judgment covers the entire wall above the chapel’s entrance and includes the aforementioned devotional portrait of Enrico. Opposite it, on the chancel arch above the altar, is an unusual scene of God in Heaven despatching an angel to Earth. Each wall is arranged in three tiers of narrative frescoes, each with four two-meter-square scenes. Facing the altar the narrative sequence begins at the top of the right hand wall with scenes from the life of the Virgin, including the annunciation to her mother, St. Anne, and the presentation at the temple. The series continues through the Nativity, the Passion of Jesus, the Resurrection, and the Pentecost. The panels are noted for their emotional intensity, sculptural figures, and naturalistic space. Beneath the main scenes at dado level, Giotto used a faux architectural scheme of painted marble decorations and small recesses containing figures of the Virtues and Vices painted in monotone.

Photo of the interior, it is a symmetrical long space

The painting is vividly present to people, 3d quality are shown on a 2d plane wall.

Interior shot along the longitudinal axis in the opposite direction

The marble was painted on the wall, it is so vivid thus to give us a misvisual sense of the materiality