Villa Foscari
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Architect Andrea Palladio
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Location Malcontenta, Italy   map
Date 1549 to 1563   timeline
Building Type house
 Construction System bearing masonry
Climate mediterranean
Context rural
Style Italian Renaissance
Notes symmetrical facade enfronting both garden and larger landscape


Photo, exterior overview





Plan Drawing

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Site Plan Drawing

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Discussion Villa Foscari Commentary

Situated along the banks of the Brenta River near the town of Malcontenta, the Villa Foscari is a fine example of a unified work of architecture, in which all the parts are harmoniously organized and related to each other, and yet they vary in ways which intensify the building's connection to the larger landscape.

The building is one simple volumetric block, under a hip roof with two attic gables, in which rectangularly proportioned rooms are organized by a central vaulted hall in the shape of a Greek cross. The major axis of this hall stretches from the main entry facade facing north and the river to the south facade and the fields. On the river side, symmetrical wide steps on each side of the ground and service floor lead up to a temple front portico two bays deep, which connects through a central door into the main hall. In contrast to this front facade, the back facade opens to the south with two tiers of large window openings. The second of these is a large thermal window in three parts, forming an arched shape and breaking the pediment and bringing south light deep into the hall.

— JY,

The Creator's Words

"If one may build upon a river, it will be both convenient and beautiful; because at all times, and with little expense, the products may be convey'd to the city in boats, and will serve for the uses of the house and cattle. Besides the cooling the air in summer very much, it will afford a beautiful prospect, with which the estates, pleasure and kitchen gardens may with great utility and ornament be water'd, which are the sole and chief recreation of a villa."

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

"The agreeable, pleasant, commodious, and healthy situation being found, attention is to be given to its elegant and convenient disposition. There are two sorts of fabricks required in a villa: one for the habitation of the master, and of his family; and the other to manage and take care of the produce and animals of the villa. Therefore the compartment of the site ought to be in such a manner, that the one may not be any impediment to the other.

"The habitation for the master ought to be made with a just regard to his family and condition... "The covertures for the things belonging to a villa . . . in such manner joined to the master's habitation, that he may be able to go to every place under cover, that neither the rains, nor the scorching sun of the summer, may be a nuisance to him, when he goes to look after his affairs; which will also be of great use to lay wood in under cover, and an infinite number of things belonging to a villa, that would otherwise be spoiled by the rains and the sun: besides which these portico's will be a great ornament."

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

"In all my villas, and in some town houses, I have mounted the gable onto the front facade, where the main doors are, so that these gables may indicate the entrances of the house and serve the greatness and splendour of the work by raising the front part of a building above the remaining parts."

— Andrea Palladio in Wundram, Pape and Marton. pp. 134, 140.

Sources on Villa Foscari

Robert Adam. Classical Architecture. London: Penguin Books, 1990. ISBN 0-670-82613-8. NA260.A26 1990. northwest elevation drawing, fig c, p89. Derek Brentnall.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. ISBN 0-442-21668-8. LC 84-3543. NA2750.C55 1984. drawings and diagrams, p88-89. plan drawing, p88. site plan drawing, p88. — Updated edition available at

Donald Corner and Jenny Young. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1842.34

Anne Elizabeth Powell. "Palladian Splendor", Historic Preservation, March/April 1992, Vol 44 Number 02. p28-39. exterior photo of main facade, p36.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Villa Foscari


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