Palazzo Thiene
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Architect Andrea Palladio
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Location Vicenza, Italy   map
Date 1545   timeline
Building Type large house
 Construction System bearing masonry
Climate mediterranean
Context urban
Style Italian Renaissance
Notes archways around central courtyard
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Discussion Palazzo Thiene Commentary

An early Palladian work, the Palazzo Thiene is a town palace with the protective characteristics of medieval palazzo architecture and influenced by Guilio Romano's Palazzo del Té. Although only two were built, four wings were designed to surround a large courtyard. Three of these wings were one room deep, while the fourth, which was to face the principal town street, was two rooms deep to accommodate shop space and a central entrance loggia. The larger rooms are centered in each wing, and the corners have roseate plans in square volumes, which slightly protrude in the facade and are articulated by pairs of pilasters.

In the facade, a massive base of heavily rusticated stone with arched openings of dressed stone supports a lighter second story, articulated by Composite pilasters and pedimented windows framed by Ionic columns, whose shafts are punctuated by stone blocks. The two story order of the Composite pilasters above the rusticated stone base gives importance to the building in the town and suggests the refined quarters of the piano nobile.

In contrast to the few and small openings in the street facades, the interior of the courtyard is surrounded by a continuous open arcade two bays deep on the ground floor and an open loggia on the piano nobile. The rusticated base of the facade continues inside the courtyard to form this ground floor arcade and contrasts with a lighter, plastered, more open and more finely detailed construction of the piano nobile's gallery. — JY

The Creator's Words

"This house is situated in the middle of the city, near the piazza, and therefore I have thought proper to dispose of that part towards the piazza into shops: because the architect is also to consider the advantage of the client, when it can be done conveniently, and where the situation is sufficiently large. Every shop has over it a room for the use of the shopkeeper; and over them are the rooms of the master.

"This house is insular, that is, encompassed by four streets. The principal entrance, or as one may say, the master-gate, has a loggia forwards, and fronts the most frequented street of the city. The great hall is to be above; which will project even with the loggia. There are two entrances in the wings, which have columns in the middle, placed there not so much for ornament, as they are to render the part above it secure, and to make the height proportionable to the breadth. From these entrances one goes into the court encompassed all round with loggia's of pilasters. In the first order they are Rustick, and in the second of the Composite order. In the angles, there are octangular rooms, that succeed well, as well with respect to their form, as for diverse uses to which they may be accommodated. . . The cellars, and such like places, are under ground; because this fabrick is in the highest part of the city, where there is no danger that water should prove any inconvenience."

— Andrea Palladio. The Four Books of Architecture. Second Book, Chapter III.

Resources
Sources on Palazzo Thiene

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. LC 79-18045. NA2760.C46. diagram, p47. — A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at Amazon.com

Andrea Palladio. The Four Books on Architecture. New York: Dover Publications, 1965. LC 64-18862. NA2515.P253. section drawing, plate 8, book two.

Chiara Samugheo. Vicenza & Palladio. Torino: ERI Edizioni Rai, 1987. NA1123.P2V5 1987. plan, p180. elevation, p180.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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