Essay: Renaissance Building Projects: Their Relationship

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¶ … Renaissance Building Projects: Their relationship with the Scientific Revolution Architectural Principles, Construction Technology and Master Builder Tradition

The four buildings discussed above show evidence of the advance of scientific thinking as well as other aspects particular to the Renaissance revolution in architecture. This also applies to the design of these buildings and the techniques and methods of building, which also showed considerable and even radical change and advances in terms of innovation and the use of new scientific methods in a number of important ways.

A study of these buildings also highlights the fact that during the Renaissance the ideas of regularity, symmetry, and harmony were reintroduced as classical ideals. As Milo argues, the Renaissance builders believed these principles could be actualised and "seamlessly applied to architecture" by a scientific mastery of geometry (Milo). This is an aspect that is applicable to many of the most prominent and architecturally innovative buildings of this period as they show the influence of both classicism and mathematics. This also refers to the revival of classical methods, techniques and knowledge which had been lost during the medieval period.

It is also extremely important to emphasize that the most notable examples of Renaissance architecture and buildings are almost invariably to be found in the building of cathedrals, churches, and chapels. Another architectural aspect of this period that stands out is the imitation of the Greco-Roman style and design (Betts 5 -- 25), which can be seen in the incorporation of columns, domes, and arches. In essence, a valid generalization of this period would be that the builders and architects of the period were intent on applying classical principles of design and proportion in numerous Christian structures (Ackerman 3 -- 11). As Partridge notes in this regard, Greco-Roman forms were employed in Renaissance palaces as well, especially in Florence and Rome, and in the beautiful street facades of many cities (Partridge). Walker also emphasizes the fact that the guiding aesthetic principle of this period was based in the classical world (Walker) and that it is this revitalization of ancient architecture that would go on to distinguish Renaissance works from those of the Middle Ages.

As is evidenced by the discussion above, a central facet that came to distinctly characterize the architecture of the Renaissance was the dome. Domes became highly popular following Brunelleschi's work on the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore,

The dome of the Florence cathedral is a prime example of the innovative and unique architectural achievements of this period. It is also noteworthy that these buildings discussed are a blend of the Renaissance and Gothic but that they also transcend these past achievements in terms of unique design and construction. Filippo Brunelleschi was a leader in the creation and establishment of news and innovative standards in architecture. The use of scientific thinking was employed by architects like Brunelleschi to overcome obstacles in design and construction that had existed in the past -- such as building the dome senza armadura without scaffolding.

However, an analysis of these building emphasizes the degree of reference to and reliance on the architectural as well as the aesthetic and stylistic achievements of the master builders and architectural knowledge of the past. This can be seen Brunelleschi's knowledge of Roman construction principle that permitted him to solve the unique engineering and architectural problem that the dome presented. His design of the dome around a pointed arch or ogival, which is more stable in that it reduced any outward thrust that the dome might present at its base, was the first time in architectural and construction history that a design of this nature had been achieved. As Gartner states, there was no precedent for this type of structure (88).

The above point is indicative of a general trend in Renaissance architecture. This refers to the use of scientific knowledge and innovation in imaginative ways to overcome architectural problems and create unique structures. In this regard we could also refer to the devices invented by Brunelleschi that facilitated the transportation upwards and laterally of the sandstone beams and marble slabs. In essence, Brunelleschi's mechanical and engineering techniques exceeded those available in the Middle Ages. In addition, Brunelleschi also built a new form of crane that operated once the stone reached the upper working level. All of these were radical innovations that contributed to the future of engineering. To reiterate the view put forward by Castex; "This manner of thinking through the project as a whole and determining every aspect of its structure, construction, and aesthetics was very different from the traditional ways of the masons and was to some extent the birth of the modern architectural profession"(Castex 52).

Many of the aspects discussed above also apply to the other buildings and architects; such as the design and construction of the Facade of Santa Maria Novella. This construction also shows the influence of Greco-Roman architecture. Its architectural elements comprise a temple-like pedimented upper story with triangular panels and scrolls on a broad base. In this regard Alberti was also unique in the way that he solved various design and architectural problems. It is also noteworthy that Alkberti also contributed to the development of art as well as architecture. He wrote a number of books including a work entitled, on Painting. In general it is acknowledged that he was an influential figure in changing the direction of Italian Renaissance art (Leon Battista Alberti).

A central aspect that was emphasized in the above study is the way that the labour relations and building management was altered during this period. During the Renaissance the issue of the master builder was questioned. Alberti was of the opinion that there should be a complete separation between the design and the building of an architectural project. Therefore we can partly trace the beginnings of the modern separation between architectural design, engineering and the craft of building to this view. In other words, this was the beginning of the specialization of the various disciplines involved in the overall process of the creation of a building from its inception. However, other architects like Brunelleschi did not believe in the total separation of the vasriodsu aspects of the design and building process. Nevertheless, Alberti's view become popular after the Industrial Revolution, when the balance shifted decisively towards independent architectural design separated from the implementation of the designer's vision

This period of architectural history is therefore characterized by increasing innovation and experimentation, coupled with a growing dominance of scientific knowledge and technology. At the same time the classical models of the past provided an inspiration and guidance as inspiration for these creator of these buildings. In this sense the work of Bramante and Michelangelo should also be seen as examples of the true spirit of the Renaissance in their creative versatility that extended over various disciplines. Both these architects were also accomplished artists but both also pursued various forms of scholarship and mathematics, which exemplifies the spirit and tenor of the Renaissance.

Conclusion ( 2): "Analysis of Four Scientific Revolution Building Projects: Their relationship with the Scientific Revolution Architectural Principles, Construction Technology and Master Builder Tradition"

The Baroque style of architecture is associated with the Scientific Revolution due to the relative abundance of wealth during this period, which in turn facilitated the creation of elaborate and extravagant architectural styles. This style of architecture was also linked to the status and predominance of the Catholic Church. In other words, many of the buildings during this period were designed to emphasise the wealth, status and influence of the Church as well as learning and scientific knowledge.

In this regard, Roman Baroque in particular was associated with the Catholic Church and is linked to religiously-motivated Italian Mannerism. As Hersey states, this architectural style was permeated with the representation of power and influence (Hersey). These buildings were essentially designed to display the power and influence of the Church. To this end fluid and impressive structures were created. A characteristic of this style was the replacement of the Renaissance idea of straight lines with curves to connote energy and vitality. The creation of spaciousness was also an important characteristic designed to emphasise religious significance (Cohen).

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1638-1646) is considered an iconic example of Baroque architecture (Vino Con Vista Italy Travel Guides and Events). Borromini's design also reflects the value of scientific exactness. To reiterate the view of one commentator; "In a space no larger than the base of one of the piers of St. Peter's Basilica, he created a church that is an intricate exercise in geometric perfection, with a coffered dome that seems to float above the curves of the walls" (San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane).

In the Roman Baroque style the architect Francesco Borromini is considered as one of the great innovators of architectural compositions from an aesthetic perspective. He is also credited with the innovative use of space in baroque architecture (Blunt). While many of the buildings that he worked on were relatively small, he succeeded in converting… [END OF PREVIEW]

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