Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chiaroscuro in the Alternatives Unit

Amiens: France 1250

Amiens Cathedral, or Notre Dame, is the tallest cathedral in France, and is representational of Gothic architecture. This cathedral is the exposition of a whole: consisting of decoration, form and structure. It interrelates horizontal and vertical elements, and incorporates human figures in its facades.

In this cathedral, the use of windows allows for the reception of light. The light infiltrates the nave of the cathedral, making obvious the presence of God. From many standpoints, light falls into the space, however, the source is unclear.

Duomo: Italy 1436

The Duomo, also known as the Florence Cathedral, ends the Gothic era and marks the beginning of the Renaissance. It is well known for its dome, designed by Brunelleschi, and its illustrated façade. It is the chief landmark of Florence and acts as a way to show civility through transformation from public to private.

The use of circular windows is important in the entrance of light in that it is the main source of natural light. The Florence Cathedral has a white interior, which emphasizes the light entering the cathedral, creating more light than expected.

 Cologne: Germany 1560

The Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Kolner Dom, was the worlds tallest structure until the construction of the Washington Monument in 1884. It is a monument of Christianity and Gothic Architecture. It was built in dedication to St. Peter and the Virgin Mary.

The use of adjacent windows allows for maximum light entrance in the Cologne Cathedral. Not only do the windows light the nave, but the spire also allows for light, creating an interesting composition. The most light is found at the apse, making the priest the most important figure in the cathedral.

Salisbury: England 1266

Unlike the previous cathedrals, this one is not Gothic, but Romanesque. It is considered one of the leading examples of Early English Architecture. This cathedral contains the world’s oldest working clock and one of four copies of the Magna Carta.

In this Cathedral, the complex ceiling structure plays a huge role in the incorporation of light. 
When one stands in the Salisbury Cathedral, it is obvious that light is coming through, but the question is- where? There is so much detail in ceiling structure that it is almost impossible to define the exact source of light. Also, with the way the light enters the cathedral, it resembles artificial light, though it is actually natural light. 

Foundling Hospital: Italy 1424

This building was designed by Brunelleschi, with the use of circles and squares and cubes to determine proportion (Roth, 362). It aims to create “the perfect façade” through symmetry and repetition of columns. However, behind this façade, the space is asymmetrical and the columns in the courtyard are unaligned.

The colonnade creates a concept of repeating light and shadow, enforcing a sense of intimacy upon the people it functions for. There is also a slight use of light and dark colors in the blue rondels with the white babies.

Santa Maria Novella: Italy 1471

This church is the first great basilica of Florence. This is an example of the beginning use of a temple inside a temple, creating one façade out of two floors. The façade is illustrated so that it looks like it had been pasted on, and it uses a central rose window to symbolize its function.

The use of light in this building has more to do with the façade. The light stone and dark stone are placed in geometric patterns, creating an architecture parlent.

Palazzo de Medici: Italy 1460

Built for the Medici family by Bartolomeo, this building reflects inspiration from both Roman and Brunelleschi principles. The palazzo form serves for business, entertainment, and family. The Front façade and its disappearance of rustication is one of the main ideas in this building.

The oversized cornice is set at a city scale, and overshadows the city. The roughness of the exterior lessens as the view goes from the bottom to the top, causing a gradation of shadow in texture from dark to light.

Villa Rotunda: Italy 1550

This villa was designed by Palladio, and was the beginning of “breaking the rules” by putting a temple-front on a square space. This villa was built as a “home away from home” or an escape from city life. This building was never completed by Palladio, and was taken over by Vincenzo Scamozzi.

Palladio’s idea of putting a temple-front on a home led to this idea of making something sacred from scratch. After being taken over by Scamozzi, he decided to further this emphasis of holiness with an oculus, which he installed in the top of the dome. In the exterior, it is unclear that light would be able to fill the building, but in the interior, it seems to be overwhelmed with light.

Sistine Chapel: Italy 1483
The Sistine Chapel is a famous church in Italy designed by some of the most famous Renaissance artists including Michaelangelo, Raphael, Bernini and Botticelli. The architecture is almost surprising. If you look at the exterior, it’s bland and monochromatic. One would never think that the inside would be as beautiful as it is.

The Sistine Chapel is most famous for its frescoes painted on the ceiling as well as on the walls. These Frescoes represent chiaroscuro in both the literal way and the interpretive way. First, the art of chiaroscuro is shown through the light and dark values used to illuminate the human figure. This use of light and dark in perspective causes the transition from the wall to the ceiling to disappear, so that the space is extended. Second, light in chiaroscuro is shown through the use of windows in the nave. These windows allow light into the chapel, which first illuminates the ceilings, and then reflects from the ceiling to the walls on the sides.

Chapel of Four Fountains: Italy 1638

This church was the first church in Italy to be built by Borromini, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The name of this chapel derives from the four fountains, which can be found at each corner of the church. The façade incorporates much undulation, or movement of the eye.

The use of light in this church comes primarily from the oval shaped dome in the center of the ceiling. The light that travels through the small windows within this dome is a “white” light, and it almost seems filtered, because of how softly the light falls into the church.

Piazza St. Peter: Italy 1667

This piazza was designed by Bernini. This space is defined by its oval shape and its consistent use of colonnades to imply enclosure within the space. The oval shape can be interpreted as “arms reaching out” from the church along the borders of the piazza. Bernini designed the piazza the way he id to create a sense of order among the city. The piazza is built at city scale, and is an example of Uniformity within the Baroque era.

The use of the colonnade in the Piazza St. Peter plays a huge role in the design itself. The shadows cast by the colonnade create a transition from exterior to interior, in that as soon as someone enters the colonnade, he or she feels like they are in a private area, or a refuge from light. It is also extremely useful because as someone is standing in the middle of the piazza, they might become extremely hot, and then once they walk into the colonnade, they are safe from the heat of the day.

Hall of Mirrors: France 1688

The Hall of Mirrors is the biggest room of the Palace of Versailles. It gets its name from the seventeen mirrors facing seventeen windows overlooking the garden. The Hall of Mirrors links the exterior and the interior through its illusion of reflection. The furniture and architecture within this hall are based on the mirrors themselves.

The Hall of Mirrors uses light through reflection. Light enters the room, through the windows, reflects off of the mirrors, and expands throughout the room. This light is symbolic of “heaven on earth”. The Hall of Mirrors is the most well lit room in France, and not only does it use natural light, but also chandeliers. The chandeliers also reflect in the mirrors, and are more effective at night, while natural light spills into the hall during the day.

By Neal Mickey and Nicole Robert
Photos taken from Flickr

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