Renaissance architecture refers to the European architectural activities of the period between the 14th Century and the 17th Century. The architectural designers of the time borrowed a lot of ideas from the Greek and Roman designs that were based on material culture and thought. In terms of style in the structures of the buildings, the Renaissance architectural works followed Goliath architecture. The renaissance styles of construction began in Florence, stimulated by Filippo Brunelleschi. The style progressively spread to other different cities in Italy. Due to the uniqueness of the design of the buildings, the demands increased in entire Europe with France, England, Germany, Russia, and the rest of the European states adopting the technology from Florence. The renaissance architectures placed emphasis on proportions, symmetry, regularity, and geometry of parts of the buildings (Johnson 28). These attributes were also evidenced in classical antiquity, particularly Roman architecture. From the buildings, there was the orderly placement of lintels, columns, and pilasters. Hemispherical domes, semicircular arches, aedicules, and niches were more common in the renaissance designs. These features replaced the irregular profiles and complex proportional systems mostly evidenced in the medieval building designs.
In the renaissance time, there was an exploration of the concepts of architectural order and before the construction, the architecture would ensure the development of rules and regulations that ought to be followed. Just like the assessment criterion followed by the modern architectures, these rules and regulations ensured the construction of sustainable buildings. The study of classical antiquity led to the incorporation of the different stylistic features in the renaissance structures (Anderson 37). The utilization of space was commonly evident in the renaissance architectural designs, it was utilized differently from the way it had been in the classical and Middle Ages. The organization of space within the building followed propositional logic; there was the utilization of geometry in the determination of rhythm and forms. In the Middle Ages, architectures applied intuition in the creation of space. The perfect example of the above case is evident in the Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral.
The Renaissance buildings had symmetrical and squire appearance and the proportions were mainly organized based on modules. In the cases of churches, the modules formed the width of the aisle. The integration of the design of the building plans with the facade was mainly introduced during the construction of Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral by Filippo Brunelleschi but he could not carry the above aspect of his work into completion. Although the above feature was never incorporated during the construction of the Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral, Alberti successfully incorporated it during the design of St. Andrea church. In renaissance architecture, facades were symmetrical around the vertical axis (Frommel 35). The Church facades were in most cases, surmounted by the pediment and supported by a collection of pilasters, entablatures, and arches. The windows and columns indicated a progression towards the center of the building. One of the buildings that clearly showed a proper renaissance facade was the Cathedral of Pienza, constructed by Florentine architecture, Bernardo Gambarelli, and Alberti.
Some of the features incorporated in the renaissance structures originated from ancient Rome, the organization of pillars, as well as the squire arrangement of spaces within the buildings followed the Roman systems of designs. The round windows and circular openings at the top of the buildings were imitations from the Roman architectural designs. With the existence of the Roman designs, the renaissance architectures had to make some improvements but in most cases, retain the ancient basic features such as the arrangement of windows and circular openings. The system of arches found mostly in the renaissance structures was the imitation of the Roman architectural designs.
Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral
During the design of the Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral, the Renaissance architects saw the need to come up with some innovative structures. At the initial stages, the structure was seen as an architectural impossibility, a situation that forced Filippo Brunelleschi to perfect his structural and engineering skills. The fresh ideas formulated therefore enabled him to overcome the challenges of construction. The Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral structure followed the renaissance style of construction. There was the incorporation of a double shell consisting of one exterior and one interior dome exhibiting empty space in between them. The structure was mounted with the help of pointed arches arranged in an octagonal array; it was also mounted following the layout of the walls (King 17). Unlike the Roman architectural designs, Filippo Brunelleschi uniquely introduced the horizontal rings supporting the arches, as well as the interior and exterior domes, making them rigid by distributing the weight. In addition, the outer marble arches were decorative. The arches, the dome, and the rings were constructed out of bricks. The outer bricks exhibited herringbone patterns that were unique and remained visible. The Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral is 42 meters wide, close to the size of the Roman Pantheon. The height of the dome is about 114 meters long (King 13).
Church of Santa Maria delle Carceri
As in the case of Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral structure, the structure of the Church of Santa Maria delle Carceri exhibits the common characteristic of renaissance design. The circular dome-shaped structure at the top of the building and the squire arrangement of lintels, pillars indicate that the building was designed by the renaissance architects. On the other hand, the designer borrowed some features from the Roman architectures (Roth 29). The circular structures found in the dome-shaped structure are an imitation of Roman architectural works. The arrangement of windows, doors, and ventilation are also an imitation of the Roman architectural designs. The structure is however unique due to the shape which takes the squire design with the lintels and pillar perpendicularly placed to improve the outlook of the building.
The organizational innovation in renaissance architecture includes the arrangement of different openings including windows, doors, and ventilation systems. The patterns of the arrangement of windows and doors are also unique. In renaissance architecture, there was the orderly placement of lintels, columns, and pilasters (Roth 27). Hemispherical domes, semicircular arches, aedicules, and niches were more common in the renaissance designs. These features replaced the irregular profiles and complex proportional systems mostly evidenced in the medieval building designs. The Brunelleschi Dome of the Florence Cathedral and the Church of Santa Maria delle Carceri are the products and the most notable designs from the renaissance architectural works.
Anderson, Christy. Renaissance architecture. OUP Oxford, 2013.
Frommel, Christoph Luitpold. "The architecture of the Italian Renaissance." (2007).
Johnson, Matthew. Behind the Castle Gate: From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Routledge, 2013.
King, Ross. Brunelleschi's Dome: The story of the great cathedral in florence. Random House, 2010.
Roth, Leland M. Understanding architecture: Its elements, history, and meaning. Routledge, 2018.
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