ART/ARCHITECTURE – Andrea Palladio

Vicenza. 25 miles inland from Venice, is one of the leading sites of global architectural tourism- and for one reason. Many of the works of Andrea Palladio are located in and around that town. Andrea Palladio was born at the end of November in 1508 in Padua. He was an apprentice stonemason, and later a stone carver; though it wasn’t until he was about thirty years of age that he began designing buildings himself. Over the next forty years of his working life, Palladio designed 40 or so Villas, a couple of townhouses, and a handful of churches. Not a huge list, given the amount of building that was going on at the time. For most of his career, he had a mix of professional successes and setbacks. Though during his 60s, He finally emerged as the top architect of Venice– about the richest and most powerful city in the world at that time. Palladio held views on architecture almost entirely opposite to those which are current today. One of these ideas is that architecture has a clear purpose; which is to help us be better people. Palladio thought we should build in order to encourage good states of mind, in ourselves and others. In particular, architecture could help us with three psychological virtues: Calm, Harmony, and Dignity. To achieve calm, he reduces what’s going on. All the elements in a room are centered; balanced, symmetrical. He only uses simple geometrical shapes. Generally, the walls are plain, and there’s little furniture. The serenity of the place is designed to calm us down, inviting us to focus, and be less distracted. For harmony, Palladio was obsessed with making sure that every element of a building fitted perfectly with every other. He wrote, “A fine building ought to appear as an entire and perfect body; Wherein every member agrees with its fellow, and each so well with the whole, that it may seem absolutely necessary. The design of a window is related to that of the door. Every opening is aligned with every other, every room is a clear, simple shape. The doors always line up. The building creates an environment in which we are provided with a limited, but real, sense of everything important coming together.” One of the ambitions of Palladio’s architecture was to give greater dignity to parts of life, that had been unfairly regarded as unworthy. At the Villa Barbara, a farmhouse in the countryside about 40 miles north of Venice, the barns and stables and grain stores are just as grand as the owner’s not especially large house. Rather than being hidden away, or set at a distance, these working buildings are presented as honorable and important. He wasn’t disguising the utilitarian reality of the farm; rather, he was demonstrating its genuine dignity. In giving with the long classical tradition, Palladio believed that buildings should help to compensate for our weaknesses. By encouraging us to be more collected, poised, and measured than we manage to be day to day. We need serene, harmonious, and confident buildings, precisely because we’re not reliably like that. Ideally, architecture embodies our better selves; the ideal building is like the ideal person. In 1570, Palladio published his four books on architecture. It’s an early and very distinguished example of the “How-To” genre: It gives instructions on how to build. There’s a practical guide to digging foundations, and how to judge the quality of cement, and the reliable ways of constructing walls and laying floors. He also develops rules of proportion, based on simple mathematical ratios, to achieve a kind of visual harmony. The “Fancy Surrounds” are not the crucial thing. Without them, the window opening will still look lovely. Because it is the proportions, and not the decoration, that make it harmonious. This meant that an equally beautiful building could be produced more cheaply, which was one of Palladio’s chief concerns, because the same proportions are beautiful, irrespective of whether the building is made of marble, brick, concrete, or wood. He went on to provide a wide range of rules for making buildings attractive: They should be symmetrical, there should be three, five, or seven openings on a side; not an even number. Room should have a simple, geometrical shape, the length should be 3/5 of the width, and the height 3/5 of the width. Palladio saw himself as a craftsman; he was simply following a set of rules which others could follow, too. He was working against the idea that architecture requires a special genius. The ideal of a pattern book is that visually elegant buildings can be put up as a standard, as happened in London, and in many cities in the 18th century– in large part due to Palladio’s influence. Palladio’s ideas have resonated down the ages, but it isn’t when buildings have columns, or make nods to ancient temples, that they are their most “authentically Palladian” Buildings are Palladian when they are devoted to Calm, Harmony and Dignity, on the basis of rules which can, and should be, widely reused. It’s then that they display the same underlying ambition of which Palladio is a central advocate and exponent, that it should be normal for buildings to represent us for the seductive portrait of our calmest, and most dignified selves.

100 thoughts on “ART/ARCHITECTURE – Andrea Palladio

  1. It might be a bit pointless commenting on a video 2 days later, but what can The School of Life teach me about how to have interesting conversations/come across as interesting/be liked ect. It's all well and good being sound and sane, but if the whole world thinks you're mad/arrogant/belittling then its a bit pointless, and I'm sure the people school of life might appreciate why people just getting into videos/stuff like this coming from places where people tend not to think like this might come across a bit mad quite often.

  2. OMG, this woman has such a soothing voice. If I have insomnia, I'm going to keep in mind to put this video on to doze off to slumberland. It's like cream butter to the ear…

  3. Also, the richest and most powerful city at that time was not Venice but Beijing, China, capital of the Ming Empire and center of the largest economy in the world in the 1500s. Venice was probably the richest and most powerful CITY-STATE in the world, but certainly NOT the richest and most powerful CITY.

  4. Watching this beautiful lesson, I remembered that on his speech about him, John Armstrong said that Goethe had this need to search for soul mates from the cultural past. And one of his soul mates was Andrea Palladio. It was like having an "imaginary friend". So Goethe would have long conversations with him there inside his head. How very practical! This made me think that if we wanted to adapt Goethe's habit, Hannah would be a great imaginary friend for us too:-) An excellent teacher with such a beautiful mind and pure voice.

    In fact, probably as many of us do, I also remember the valuable insights of these lessons always with Hannah's voice.

    By the way, for all friends who are as ignorant as myself about architecture, I highly recommend Alain's great documentary " The Perfect Home", which you can find on his other youtube channel.
    Here is the line I loved the most from there:

     " Beauty is goodness written into matter."

  5. Loved this video! Please more architecture videos like this! Maybe a
    Georges-Eugène Haussmann video?

  6. The fact that her voice is relaxing could be an indication that our lives are too stressful and distracted.

  7. i love your films on architecture, but I would like to see more of the buildings in them 🙂 but I agree with the rest, her voice is soothing!

  8. Could someone tell me what book the window diagram at the 3.34 mark is from? As far as I can tell it's not from his Four Books of Architecture…

  9. The breathless/whispering commentary spoken too quickly, poor sound, swaying camera (perhaps filmed from a boat?)- this could have been so good!

  10. I like her voice and narration but the shots of her walking around/talking (with shaky cam) are very distracting!

  11. I don't mean to be rude but some sort of de-essing on those vocals would be great. There's just way too much transient, spit noise, and s noise in each syllable.

  12. Great lessons Dr. Roxburgh. I would love to see some videos about landscape architecture in the future if possible.

  13. You should totally check out the Dutch Architect Dom Hans van der Laan, he created a distinct and calm architectual style that had a very thought out filosophy behind it.

  14. It is great to see Dr. Hannah Roxburgh back – so many people want to understand art but don't and she does it in an informative and accessible way…
    Also. That voice! 😀

  15. Great work with all of your videos! Have you considered making a video about the sculptor Constantin Brâncuși? He was one of the most influential modern sculptors and his profound vision changed the way artists relate to the idea of form and space. Thanks! 🙂

  16. Sorry to let you know that, its easily the least attractive of the school of life video essays, as it not only detracts from its established style of using animations and images; but also because the use of a on screen narrator, the feeble and in-confident voice, and the change in the soundtracks actually are huge obstacle in enjoying this segment. I might not even watch them as it is a huge let down but also a big loss for me as school of life videos have been highly educational as well as entertaining for me. Thanks. Just an honest feedback nothing personal. You don't have to be BBC on a budget.

  17. It would be interesting to do a video setting off Palladio, with say the architecture of Michelangelo or Guilio Romano.
    Or the benefits of calm proprtion vs ornamentation. How does ornament improve our lives? I'm thinking the likes of Owen Jones, or the theatricality of Borromini and Bernini.

  18. I have the strangest spiritual boner from listening to this lady. I could hear her whisper what a disgusting being I am for the rest of my life and I wouldn't object to it. Lady, if you're reading this, MARRY ME please!

  19. where did the quote “‘A fine building ought to appear as an entire and perfect body, wherein every member agrees with its fellow, and each so well with the whole, that it may seem absolutely necessary.’ come from??

  20. Thank you for the excellent video. Can you give a reference for the statement:
    'Palladio held views on architecture …. One of these ideas is that architecture has a clear purpose which is to help us be better people.'

  21. It's interesting to notice that a polymath and an architecht Buckminster Fuller had a similar notion of purpose for architecture but he stated it more clarly. He said, that we need a revolution in design so that we can by its means transform humanity and survive the potential of extinction.

  22. We demand more Foxy Roxy. The 'PHD' is not an issue. Nor is the subject matter: the painting of Noel Edmunds would be fine. We just want Foxy back.

  23. Seriously. This is the worst video you guys have made.

    You talk about Palladio without reference to the Vitruvian system. Shouldn't you start with Vitruvius and then argue how Palladio manipulates and changes those views? You are effectively starting with Le Corbusier and Meis without giving context of what they are resisting.

    I am really annoyed cause, every other video on this channel is really well designed within your 'curriculum'. This is not.

  24. A very informative video! Can you please make a Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi works? That would be so awesome! Thank you .

  25. I'm sorry, but whoever shot this has to be fired, there is absolutely no sense of framing and lighting whatsoever. It makes it incredibly painful to watch. All the comments here are about the host, who I found pleasant enough, but I don't know how to overcome the visual sloppiness in this video.

  26. Dear School of Life, could you do a small video explaining the influence and importance of the architectural philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright? I think it would be great to do a video of the most influential architect of the 20th century.

    in proportion though Andrea Palladio work destined to influence architecture up to the end of time… matter of simplicity, then symmetry form acquired its finest enriching upon the classic orders enactment. We shall call him The Tuscan Architect as he intentionally conspired with God to intermingle his divine
    inspiration through the very serenity of nature. Humane into highest impersonation of the self… heart and soul are taken into complete sublimation through invigorating thus harmonious habitat, where the observer is privileged to fool the passing of the ages through an imaginative arch of grandest statue and frescos designed to attain unlimited inventiveness and unimaginable rejuvenating living.
    Ramon D. Js.Polanco R.Santiago, DR28 May 2018

  28. Dear School of Life,

    I am writing in on behalf of my organisation, NUS Harmonica Orchestra, to ask for your kind permission to use your footages and photography for educational viewing. We would be using it during our concert screening to let our audiences learn about the geometry and symmetry in Palladio's architecture.

    Thank you very much for the helpful and informative video. We will be sure to give you due credit.

    Best wishes,

  29. Being just another educational video, I was sent here by my art teacher. No wonder this is exceptionally beautiful! It's by The School of Life!

  30. She's the archetypal 70s 2nd wave feminist professor, haha. The girlfriend in Mindhunter, the professor in Eddie Pepitone's stand up routine "Losing Your Virginity to Your Professor" (on This Is Not Happening), etc. are the same archetype.

    (This is not a positive or negative opinion and does not imply any particular political view.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *