The Use Of Palladian Architecture Cultural Studies Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Palladian architecture refers to a European type of architecture whose origin is the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio who lived between 1508 and 1580. The works and concepts of this architect inspired the Palladian buildings (Frampton, 142). The main features of Palladian architecture are symmetry, perspective, and ancient architecture of Greek temples. The cities mainly characterized by Palladian architecture buildings that include churches and villas are Venice and Veneto. Instead of focusing on the rich decorative characteristic of the new beginning, Palladian architecture emphasized the mathematical proportionality of a building's components (Frampton, 142). The design of Palladian buildings varied depending on the scenery or location. A Palladian building on a hill was designed so that the occupant would have a view of all the directions. An example of a Palladian building is the Rotunda.

Rotunda is a building located in the grounds of the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson designed the Rotunda whose construction started in 1822. The initial construction cost of the Rotunda was $57,773 by 1822 and the building is 77 feet (23.5 m) in height. The building epitomized 'authority of nature and power of reason' to Jefferson and the people of Virginia. Its construction was complete in 1826, by which time Thomas Jefferson had died (Alexander, 56). The Rotunda housed a library and is seen as a symbol of Jefferson's efforts to separate the church and education (Alexander, 56). In most cases, the Rotunda would have been used as a church given the masterwork it is and power wielded by the church in those days. Today, UNESCO preserves and protects the Rotunda as a World heritage site.

Neoclassicism Architecture

Neoclassical architecture originates from the neoclassical movement of the 18th century. Neoclassical architecture borrows heavily from Andrea Palladio's works and Greek architecture (Pryce, 98). A prominent feature of the neoclassical architecture is the weight it lays on the walls. Shunning the perky lifestyle of the aristocracy, the rising bourgeoisie during the enlightenment period developed the neoclassical architecture. This type of architecture was less extravagant compared to the Baroque style used by the aristocracy in that period. The frivolous details of the Baroque style, loved by the aristocracy, were scrapped and the building made only of functional components. The dramatic curves were replaced with clean lines, and the columns were erected solely for support and not aesthetic values. The architecture of this period was characterized by symmetry, balance and a return to the fundamental, geometric forms of ancient times (Pryce, 99).

The Antigua Universidad in Valencia is an example of a neoclassical building. This is an elegant building, both in the interior and exterior parts. It has a courtyard with covered walks with Doric columns and references to teaching/education. Besides, it has a front that resembles an ancient temple with marble statutes. It has a sober appearance without any decorations. Other neoclassical buildings in Spain include the Ayuntamiento, and Palacio-Monasterio del Temple, imposing buildings featuring the same classic forms and columns of the Antigua Universidad. The Ayuntamiento serves as the city Hall while the Correos is the Post Office of the city of Valencia. The Plaza Ayuntamiento, consists of modern and neo-classical buildings which fuse together to create a unique view.

Gothic Revival Period Architecture

Gothic revival architectural movement appeared in the 1740s in England. It is also referred to as the Victorian- or neo-gothic. This architecture was associated with the movement that called for the restoration of 'high church' to symbolize the regard in which the church was held. The gothic revival buildings are characterized by high towers and pinnacles and are thought to have begun in Paris in 1140 (Frampton, 102). It however came to flourish in Westminster in the early 1700s. An example of gothic revival period architecture is the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. The cathedral is situated at 89 Ridge Street in Newark, New Jersey.

The construction work at the site began in 1899 and continued until 1954. Although the origin design intended an English or Irish gothic design, it was later changed to French gothic. The heights of the front towers were reduced 232 feet from 332 feet and the spires were also eliminated to reduce the weight on the tower. The nave buttresses and pinnacles were also eliminated and the number of entrance sculptures increased (Frampton, 103). Among the outstanding features of the cathedral are the steel-slated roofs, the granite canopies, and medallions. The construction of the above features was complete by 1924 after which the windows were fitted. The medallions are covered with scriptural scenes and bishop-portraits designed under the supervision of Rochette and Parzini of New York City. Other examples of gothic revival buildings are Saint Mary's Church in Townsville, Australia, and Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.

Art Deco Architecture

The art deco buildings were referred to as the buildings of the future and were prominent during the 1820s and 1830s. They were not only sleek and geometric but also spectacular in appearances. In fact, the art deco architecture borrows widely from many cultures such as the Far East, ancient Greece and Rome, Africa, India, Mayan, and Aztec cultures (Frampton, 121). With the help of Robert Mallet-Stevens who lived between 1886 and 1945, art deco was promoted in Europe while Raymond Hood designed art deco houses in the United States. Some of these buildings are the Radio City Music Hall auditorium, the RCA building at Rockefeller Center, and the New York Daily News building all in New York City. Art deco buildings are known for their lavish decorations and symbolic images.

The moat famous art deco building is New York's Chrysler Building, designed by William Van Alen. The construction of the structure began in September 1928 and completed on May 20, 1930. The building is decorated with eagle hood ornaments, hubcaps, and abstract images of cars (Frampton, 122). The building is located on the eastern side of Manhattan and stands at 319 meters high. The main features of the building are its unique ornamentations. The corners of the building are also adorned with eagles. The building is constructed of stonework, with a steel frame, and metal shell for security. In entirety, the building currently contains 3,862 windows on its front wall and four banks of eight elevators. When initially opened, the building had a viewing gallery for the public on the 71st floor but it was closed in 1945.

Industrial Revolution

Many strides were made in architectural industry in the late 18th and early 19th century. The industrial revolution had a great impact on the building industry due to mass production of materials. Builders and architects had enough materials and ornamentation for their structure. The industrial revolution introduced the machine age to the architectural industry. With the advent now of steel and glass as favored construction materials, and movement toward lean architecture, styles such as Bauhaus, International, and Postmodernism were born.

Arts and Craft Movement Architecture

The late 19th century, particularly between 1880 and 1910 experienced a remarkable effort to revive handicrafts such as art, craft, and architecture in England. This period was called the Art and Craft movement. An artist named William Morris influenced the growth of the art and craft era architecture, which was also inspired by the writings of John Ruskin. The Oregon Public Library in Oregon, Illinois, is an example of art and craft architecture. This building is a public library built in 1909 using money donated by a wealthy philanthropist named Andrew Carnegie. It was however designed by Pond and Pond, members of the Eagle's Nest Art Colony. The design of the building borrowed heavily from the classical revival and the arts and craft period architecture. For its educational and architectural importance, the building has been included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Art Nouveau Architecture

Art Nouveau is an international decorative arts-architecture movement that was most popular during at the turn of the 20th century. It was however, between the years 1890 and 1910 that the movement prospered most. The name simply means new art. This style of architecture was inspired by organic decorations such as flowers or plant motifs as well as wavy or rounded decorations. Art nouveau extended beyond buildings onto furniture decoration. In architecture, parabolas and hyperbolas in windows, arches, and doors characterized art nouveau. Examples of art neavoea are the staircase of the Maison & atelier of victor Horta. The latter building is one of four Horta-designed town buildings in Brussels that are together documented by UNESCO as representing the highest expression of the powerful Art Nouveau technique in art and architecture.

Modernism Period Architecture

The architecture of the modernism era borrows heavily from the industrial revolution period. Increase in the production and supply of building materials such as cast iron, steel, and glass, with which architects and engineers devised structures of unimaginable size, form, and function fueled architectural advancement (Duanfang, 153). By the second half of the 19th century, more advanced buildings, tunnels, canals, and bridges were already being built. Commercial buildings in urban areas took the form of skyscrapers with electric elevators and high use of steel and other tough and durable metals. Two of the most famous architects during the modern period are I.M Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Bauhaus school of architecture has really encouraged the modern movement and brought together architects, painters, and designers from many countries to set goals for the visual arts in the modern age.

Post- Modernism Architecture

Postmodern Architecture and movement begun between 1965 and 1980 when architects and critics stressed that there was no better style than postmodern. Postmodernism was characterized by value for individuality and complexity. Postmodernism architecture replaces the structured form and function of modernism period architecture with a mixture of borrowed but diverse style. It began in the 1950s but became a worldwide movement in the 1970s. It continues up to the present day architecture. It symbolized the return of ornamentation and smartness compared to the formalism of the modernism architecture. The purposeful and formalized shapes and spaces of the modernist movement are replaced by diverse aesthetics. Different styles are allowed to collide; forms are adopted for their own sake. Architects rediscovered certain symbolic and expressive values of architectural elements forgotten during the modernism in the postmodernism era (Glancey, 113). A feature of postmodernism buildings is the gable roof that sheds water away from the center of the building.

The Philip Johnson's At &T Headquarters is often cited as an example of postmodernism. Like many buildings of the same style, the skyscraper has a sleek, classical frontage (Glancey, 113). At the top, however, is an oversized triangular gable between a horizontal structure and a sloping roof. The building is currently the headquarters of Sony and is referred to as Sony Headquarters. It is located on 550 Madison Avenue, New York. Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee built the structure. The construction of the building began in 1984. The building is 197 meters high and has 37 stories.

Palladian Architecture versus Neoclassicism Architecture

The Palladian and neoclassicism architectures appeared during different historical times. While Palladian architecture was common in the 16th century, the neoclassicism Architecture appeared in the 18th century (Colquhoun, 79). Coincidentally, Andrea Palladio's works inspired both architectures, though neoclassicism architecture was also influenced by Greek architecture. Both styles did not also emphasize on decorations or perkiness of the building. The Palladian architecture emphasized symmetry and mathematical proportionality, the neoclassicism buildings emphasized structure functionality. In addition, the neoclassicism architecture considered symmetry, balance and the fundamental, geometric forms of ancient times.


Different periods in the world history experienced architectural styles. These changed in architectural styles were propelled and influenced not only by cultures but also by individual artists. While the artist Andrea Palladio inspired Palladian architecture, the neoclassical architecture is largely influenced by Greek architecture. Increased manufacture of building materials on the other hand shaped the architectural designs during the Industrial Revolution. The need to restore the high position of the church influenced the gothic revival architecture, known for high towers. The culture of organic and motif decorations inspired the art nouveau architecture while postmodernism was inspired by the need to for a more stylish and complex architecture that the modernism are buildings.