Technical University of Delft
May 2017 - July 2017
Palladio's Parameters - Basilica Palladiana
Vicenza - Italy
Palladio's loggia at the Basilica Palladiana can be regarded as one of the first parametric designs, because of his use of his arches as a constant and the distance between them as a variable, in order to conform to the grid of the original building. This project superimposes a third layer to the building and aims to shed light to Palladio's Parameters.
The Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza, Italy, originally was a gothic town hall, dubbed basilica after Palladio's extension of it. The town hall was based on an heterogeneous grid, which posed a challenge for Palladio, since his renaissance style loggia demanded a homogeneous succession of arches. He solved this by separating every arch by providing them with individual columns. The size of the arches are constant, the distances between the arches are used as a variable. With this method he aimed to create the desired sequence of arches while disguising the heterogeneity of the grid. At the same time this became - unconsciously of course - one of the first parametric designs.
This project aims to shed light on Palladio's Parameters. In a similar manner as Palladio's loggia a new gallery is added to the front facade to create a superimposition of the gothic-, renaissance-, and contemporary layers. The parametric design made it possible to use stacked limestone blocks exclusively and make it as thin as possible. As a result every block is unique and are therefore CNC-milled individually.
The blocks are penetrated by holes which shed light on the original loggia at ground level. Palladio's variable is used as an input to determine the size and orientation of the holes. The larger the distance between the original arches the bigger and more horizontally oriented the holes, the smaller the distance the smaller and more vertically oriented the holes. This accentuates and reveals Palladio's disguised variables. The form of the blocks relate to certain morphological aspects of the ornamentation in both parts of the original building.
The aim of the course was to investigate the meaning of ornamentation in general and how this relates to contemporary architecture and technologies. Ornaments are oftenly regarded as ‘functionless’ embellishing elements of a building. However, the word ‘functionless’ in this context carries no meaning, since every physical object will, intentionally or not, establish its own function, either programmatically, esthetically, physically, or differently. A ‘pure’ ornament in that sense could to exist. By the exclusive use of stone ornaments this project aims to explore the blurred boundaries of what can be regarded as an ornament. Does the entire project consist merely of ornaments? Is the entire project one added ornament to the original building? And what does this mean for Palladio's extension?