Villa Capra, or Villa Rotunda
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Architect Andrea Palladio
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Location Vicenza, Italy   map
Date 1566 to 1571   timeline
Building Type large house, villa, mansion
 Construction System bearing masonry
Climate mild
Context rural
Style Italian Renaissance
Notes A major classic of the Pantheonic type, often known as the Villa Rotonda. Very symmetrical quartet plan. Completed by Vincenffarzo Scamozzi.
Images

 


Photo, eye level overview from nearby on grounds.

Photo, eye level overview from nearby on grounds.

Photo
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Drawings

 


Section Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Drawing

Plan Drawing

Plan Drawing

Drawing

Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

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Poster Image - Villa Rotunda, Stylized Elevation and Plan

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Discussion Villa Capra, or Villa Rotunda Commentary

Situated on the top of a hill just outside the town of Vicenza, the Villa Capra is called the Villa Rotonda, because of its completely symmetrical plan with a central circular hall. The building has a square plan with loggias on all four sides, which connect to terraces and the landscape. At the center of the plan, the two story circular hall with overlooking balconies was intended by Palladio to be roofed by a semicircular dome. However, after his death, a lower dome was built, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi and modeled after the Pantheon with a central oculus originally open to the sky. The proportions of the rooms are mathematically precise, according to the rules Palladio describes in the Quatro Libri.

The building is rotated 45 degrees to south on the hilltop, enabling all rooms to receive some sunshine. The villa is asymmetrically sited in the topography, and each loggia, although identical in design, relates to the landscape it enfronts differently through variations of wide steps, retaining walls and embankments. Thus, the symmetrical architecture in asymmetrical relationship to the landscape intensifies the experience of the hilltop.

The northwest loggia is set recessed into the hill above an axial entry from the front gate. This axis is flanked by a service building and continues visually to a chapel at the edge of the town, thus connecting villa and town. — JY

The Creator's Words

"The place is nicely situated and one of the loveliest and most charming that one could hope to find; for it lies on the slopes of a hill, which is very easy to reach. The loveliest hills are arranged around it, which afford a view into an immense theatre. . .; because one takes pleasure in the beautiful view on all four sides, loggias were built on all four facades."

Andrea Palladio. Quatro Libri del'Architectura. in Manfred Wundram, Thomas Pape and Paolo Marton. Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580, Architect between the Renaissance and Baroque. Cologne, West Germany: Benedikt Taschen Verlag BmbH & Co. KG., 19 . p. 186.

Details

"Designed for the wealthy Vicentine cleric Paolo Almerico following his departure from the papl court and his retirement to his home city."

— Richard J. Goy, writing in "International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture : Volume 2, Architecture", p718.

Resources
Sources on Villa Capra, or Villa Rotunda

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. plan and section/elevation drawings, p119.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. drawings and diagrams, p92-93. — Updated edition available at Amazon.com

Donald Corner and Jenny Young. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1842.35

Spiro Kostof. A History of Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503472-4. LC 84-25375. NA200.K65 1985. p476-483, f19.33.   Available at Amazon.com

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. exterior photo, plan drawing, p149. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at Amazon.com

Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, July 1993. PCD.3189.1011.1916.078

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Paris: Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. two half-section drawings together, p195. north-west elevation drawing, p195. plan drawing, p194.

Russell Sturgis. The Architecture Sourcebook. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984. ISBN 0-442-20831-9. LC 84-7275. NA2840.S78. perspective drawing, p386. [JE]

Randall J. Van Vunckt, ed. International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture : Volume 2, Architecture. Detroit: St. James Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55862-087-7. LC 93-13431. NA40.I48 1993. 720'.9-dc20. p 717-719.

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

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