Essay: Architecture H-Conclusion History of the Renaissance Metaphorically

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Architecture

H-Conclusion

History of the Renaissance

Metaphorically speaking, the term Renaissance has been associated with rebirth and images of freedom, light, openness and creativity. These connotations stem from the historical origins of the Renaissance which took place approximately from the mid 15th to early 17th centuries and was a foundational period in European history. This period saw the emergence of a different intellectual as well as artistic view of life and reality. The creative sources of the classical era were revivified and there was a resurgence of a more interrogative and questioning attitude towards life and reality.

It should be pointed out that the Renaissance should not be understood in an historical sense as a sudden, radical break or a change for the Dark Ages that preceded it. Rather we should consider the renaissance as a period of questioning and reassessment of all aspects of life, in an intellectual, religious, economic, political and artistic sense. To generalize, we could say that is was a cardinal period of European history in which a wide range of interlinking social and philosophical views underwent a profound changed. As will be discussed in more detail in the sections below, these changes were the result of an extensive array of social, political as well as intellectual factors -- including, for instance, the growth of expansive cities, where ideas were shared and exchanged in contrast to the decline of the more isolated feudal cultures of the previous era.

Central of course to this period was the growth of technology and scientific thought which were also instrumental in opening up new horizons of possibility and promise; and which broke down previous norms and boundaries that affected the way people thought and perceived reality. There are many other factors that will be discussed, including the growth of humanist philosophy and the rise of the mercantile classes and international trade -- all of which added to the fundamental impetus towards new ideas and views of life.

This resurgent spirit of the Renaissance is clearly event in the arts and architecture of the period. Central to the spirit of the period was the growth of learning and education. This was coupled with a concomitant growth in technological development in many fields and disciplines, which in turn fuelled the innovative and creative minds of the period -- particularly with regards to art and architecture. One must also take into account that this period also includes the beginnings of printing, as well as various new political philosophies that had a wide-ranging impact an all aspects of society and architectural creation. A major part of the tapestry of the underlying cause was the Renaissance expansion of knowledge and learning. Furthermore, the art and architecture of this period reflected a form of aesthetics that was directly related to aspects such as the growth of larger as cities, a more educated population, and a growing technology that allowed states to concentrate on growth and improvement (Skinner 69).

The way in which the various elements and aspects impacted on the development of architectural design and building method will be the central focus of the following sections.

2.1.9 Conclusion

The above discourse covers a wide and very complex area of European history. The discussion has been focused on the history of architectural design, building methods and management, as well as the major architects and buildings during this time period. What becomes clear from the analysis is the way in which various interlinking cultural, social, philosophical as well as economic aspects influence and shaped the architectural vision of the architects, builders and designers of the time. What is also significant to note is that the revivification and the continuation of classical Greek and Roman design concepts and building methods were interwoven into the texture of the Renaissance mind and were used extensively in the designs of various important structures.

However, what is also of importance is the overarching understanding of the contribution that the Renaissance made to the historical development of Western culture. While debate may still rage in academic circles as to whether the Renaissance was an 'improvement' on Medieval European culture or not, what is undeniable is that the Renaissance expanded and shaped the European worldview and vision in all disciplines, and especially in the arts and architecture. One could even go further and state that this period of cultural, social and intellectual development by extension had a profound and critical effect on world culture and that its influence is still felt today through the various developments that were initiated during this period. In this regard one could refer to the fact that exploration became a central idea of the European mind during this era. This does not only refer to physical or geographical exploration but to exploration in terms of an expansion of the human mind and knowledge and the broadening of the boundaries of understanding and possibility. In this regard one could refer to a number of famous Italian Renaissance figures who played as prominent part in the colonization of the Americas, such as the Map maker Amerigo Vespucci. His resulting cartography led to the Christening of these new lands. (O'Gorman 106). The use of science and mathematics' were also instrumental in these discoveries. However, this physical expansionism was also reflected in the expansion of mind and consciousness in the European ethos and can in effect be more holistically understood as an intellectual and artistic exploration which was to become a central facet of the humanist view or philosophy of life. In essence Renaissance Humanism was an exploration of the possibilities of being human. It became a central philosophical factor in the Renaissance, which is still a dominant trend in contemporary society. An example is the design of Villa Almerico-Capran. Palladio showed the Renaissance emphasis on science and measurement by the fact that all the rooms were designed with mathematical precision according to his rules of architecture. These rules were published in the Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (Card).However, what is possibly even more significant in terms of the humanistic trend in this period is a certain aesthetic and philosophical stance in architecture. Palladio for instance emphasizes the humanist qualities of reason and rationality in his architectural designs. To reiterate, in an architectural sense his vision of humanism was linked to extending and developing the traditions of the past. "It was this expansion and reinvention of tradition that makes Palladio one of, if not the, most beloved of Renaissance architects"(Giovannini).

As is evident from the discussion in the sections above, this sense of exploration, discovery and new humanism discovery can also be applied to the arts and architecture. In architecture, for example, we see this sense of exploration in the expansion of possibilities of the way that structures, such as the dome could be used and developed in Renaissance buildings. A good example can be found in the work of Brunelleschi's, and particularly in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, which was one of the first structures to utilize this feature. The dome in this construction was seen as an extremely important architectural accomplishment. It also helped to garner both critical and industrial acclaim within the field of architecture for this feature. This structure is arguably one of the most renowned works of architecture erected during the Renaissance (Fletcher 719).

Central to the development of the Renaissance and the expansion of architectural know-how and building innovation was the importance of trade and commerce during this period -- and the way that increased trade and commerce contributed to new innovative ideas and opened up vistas and possibilities for the Renaissance mind. As has been noted, as the merchant class began to dominate in Europe, the feudal system, which had been a major social and cultural system of control, was replaced by commerce. The development of international trade was central in this regard. Renaissance Italy was one of the principle centers international trade. The emphasis on international trade would eventually pave the way for the global economic system that is an intrinsic part of our modern world.

There was a general view among artists at the time that that they were experiencing a culture that was new and different (Woods and Elmer). This led to the re-examination of the Roman and Greek heritage and important figures such as Leonardo da Vinci paved the way for modernity (Osborne). Another aspect that is also a modern legacy of the Renaissance is the multi-disciplinary focus, which is evident in the way that many architectural projects discussed above, incorporated a wide range of artists and artisans and in the building project. This was also a challenge to the master builder tradition and initiated a process of specialization within architecture.

As has been emphasized, central to this period was the expansion of knowledge. This can be linked to the growth of technological knowledge, often based on Roman and Greek methods from the past. Possibly, one of the most influential and far-reaching achievements of the Renaissance period was the discovery of the scientific… [END OF PREVIEW]

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