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Review of Renaissance Architecture Styles

Throughout the past years the emergence of architecture have gone through various evolutionary phases .The philosophy of Architecture produced with time two major branches which is the basic Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The development of Architecture from basic Renaissance form which indicates having the characteristics of dignity and formality shown through symmetry and that to have an available space for rational engagement with the divine which can be asserted that it certainly provides a rational engagement with architecture which is a more effective means to comprehend and understand architectural form than the Baroque form which contrarily presented the beginning of new dynamic, fluid and theatrical approach to architecture that was designed to impact directly upon emotional modes of engagement. The Baroque architecture which was originally linked to the counter reformation which is a movement within the catholic church to rebuild itself to respond to the Protestant church and its embellishments were more reachable to the feelings and power of the Italian church which formed a new style, whereas Renaissance was a mixture of religious and secular force and withdraw the prosperity and strength of the Italian churches.
From the 14th to the 17th century In Italy ,the city of Florence specifically is where the launch of Renaissance architecture which is also known as ‘Rebirth’ or ‘Revival’ of the Roman classic Arts had firstly began and later was distributed to the rest of Europe. Symmetry ,geometry, proportion and regularity of elements are they are shown in Ancient Roman architecture is what specify the Renaissance style. However, in the city of Florence , architects and artists demonstrated their support through their progress of new shapes of painting, sculpture and architecture, similar to seeking of prestige and position through their assistance of art and letters by the bankers and rich merchants. Hence ,As time passed by Renaissance Architecture has evolved and went through multiple stages .At first it has gone through the Early period which is the first transition period. Secondly comes Proto-Baroque which is before baroque or in other words High renaissance .Finally It evaluated to Baroque period. Baroque architecture began in late 16th century in Italy that turned Renaissance architecture into a philosophical and imaginative in a theatrical fashion way often to express an imaginative idea. Lights and dramatic intensity is used also to represent Baroque architecture. Bernini and Borromini are the first two major architects that developed Baroque period as Bernini was the first one to evolve many sculptures into his buildings and the Francesco Burromini came to Italy to learn from Bernini.
However, every style of Architecture has its own characteristics, materials, elements and shapes and different aims, but it is supported that approaching architecture with Renaissance style tends to be more engaging with architecture and understanding it and representing it in a right form than Baroque style. Late Roman buildings, particularly Donato Bramante’s St. Peter’s Basilica Tempietto in Rome its design attains a colossal unity that was not known before and hence can be considered as ancestor to baroque architecture. Donato Bramante was an Italian architect, who introduced Renaissance architecture to Milan and the High Renaissance style to Rome, where his plan forSt. Peter’s Basilica formed the basis of the design executed by Michelangelo.
Donato Bramante Tempietto in Rome represent perfectly the Renaissance style of architecture
The tempietto identified the start of the Renaissance in Rome in 1502, when a sanctuary to represent where saint peter was killed was requested from Alexander to be built allegedly .Bramante made his building to symbolize the Christian reference for tradition and platonic preference for the early church. The building is surrounded by a one-story Doric colonnade with entablature and balustrade and a 2-story cylinder covered by a hemispherical dome
Bramante’s St.Peter scheme symbolized a building on the buildup of the Baths of Diocletian covered by a dome similar to that of the Pantheon. Began in April 1506. Nearly all the vital architect of the 16th and 17th had been altered by the same time that the church was fully adjusted.
Renaissance architecture in both of these buildings tends to having planar classicm in which its walls are decorated with culomns ,pediments,and blind arches of small physical depth and that serves as flat canvases for a classical inveer ,which serves to split a wall into a precise and neat form ,contrarily in Baroque architecture the walls are deeply chelised and curved which treats as undulating whole .Furthermore, St Peter’s basilica and Donato Bramante’s Tempietto in Rome have Façades that are symmetrical around their vertical axis. A systenm of pilasters ,arches and entlabatures which form a proportional surmount the facades and the columns and windows demonstrate progression toward the centre.In contrast Buildings such as John Balthasar Neumann’s Pilgrimage Church of Vierzehnheiligen in Bamburg, Germany the facades consisted of many curves, Baroque pediments (which is the triangular area between the rooftop and the edge of the roofs) were often highly decorated. Scrolls and gilded formed the tips sometimes.
This is a photo for John Balthasar Neumann’s Pilgrimage Church of Vierzehnheiligen in Bamburg, Germany which represent the Baroque architecture
The Baroque style has its unique oval shape and took the advantage of marbles, bronze and gilts in abundance of the interior and sometimes the interiors are covered by multiple gilded puttos and life sized ones. Using an art technique called as ‘‘Trompe l’oeil’’ painting including strongly realistic imagery hence to create the optical vision and illusion for objects to be visible in three dimensions the ceilings and domes of the baroque architecture were formed ,instead of being an ordinary two dimensional painting . The major role that Baroque architecture acted upon was the call for an architecture that is both reachable and accessible to feelings and emotions and also a shown statement of wealth and power of church. The facades consisted of many curves, Baroque pediments (which is the triangular area between the end of the roofs and the rooftop) were usually extremely decorated. The tips were sometimes turned into scrolls and gilded. A listed features of baroque architecture would include more curves rather than straight lines , decorative columns instead of a supportive one and twisted in shape as well , detailing with a high sense of decoration , applying the appearance of moving and continuous flow as well , along with an abundance of windows , and a lot of paintings blending with the architecture. The church was constructed between the year of 1743 to 1772 along with it unique design in the interior which strongly reflect the baroque architecture. The plan of the church shows the church has layout which is considered to be a complex of highly divided spatial arrangement in a Latin cross form, along with a series of ovals that divides a large series of ovals that’s perpendicular to it. Moving on to the ceiling, it’s broken up with huge windows that allow the space to be exposed to directional light. Combining all this together which is the amount of light coming from the windows and the flawless stucco work done by the architects, created an amazing and simple in terms of a transporting interior which has been called “God’s Ballroom .As a person approaches the church he or she will witness a wonderful sandstone façade resembling a glorious baroque style along with an appealing and warm hue.
In conclusion, Baroque architecture which considered to be related to emotional engagement, this style or architecture concentrate and give more attention to decoration more than support of the structure, curves rather than straight lines, and emphasis on the appearance of movement all along the church. Although baroque has barrows many features from the mannerism and renaissance, but at the same time there is a lot of differences found between these two styles of architecture. In indicating those differences u will conclude that renaissance is more based on realism and being straight, as well as having the characteristics of dignity and formality shown through symmetry and that to have an available space for rational engagement with the divine which can be asserted that it certainly provides a rational engagement with architecture, while the baroque style concentrates more in being complex and in a flow. Giving those factors renaissance architecture can be considered more convincing in terms of architectural aspects due to the high level of stability and proportionality which reflects the concept of power and routine which is needed in places like churches

Gothic Revival and Neoclassicism Architecture in Churches

Gothic Revival and Neoclassicism were strong architectural movements which occurred during the mid 18th to the end of the 19th century. In Wellington, these two architectural movements can be seen through the churches of Old Saint Paul’s (OSP) which is a Gothic Revival church and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (MCSH) which is a neoclassical building.
Reverend Frederick Thatcher (1814 – 1890) designed Old Saint Paul’s church in 1866. He was born in Hastings, England and came to New Zealand in 1843. His influences for designing the church were by the ecclesiastical movement and he strongly supported their theories of letting every material used being real and that Gothic architecture is the only true architecture (Alington, 26)
Francis (Frank) William Petre (1847-1918) designed Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Petre was born in Lower Hutt in the North Island. He had strong family connections to the Saint Mary’s Cathedral (Gothic Revival Church) which had been burnt down in a fire in 1898. This made Petre to design a new Cathedral in MCSH to mark the site of the burnt down church. Although, MCSH is a neoclassical church and construction started in 1899 and was completed in 1901. Petre was influenced by Pugin as gothic was his first love but later moved into classical basilica design because it was a lower cost and for structural sustainability.
Approaching OSP externally, I felt that the church seemed to be slightly hidden behind the large trees which obstructed parts of the church at eye level. I could have walked past the building without noticing that it was a church as it was so homely. Mulgrave Street is the road running in front of the church and it is placed on ground level with no major slopes or elevation. (See Figure 1 for exterior illustration) The original clients of the church were British Anglican worshippers and Ecclesiology in church architecture was important during this period in time and the worshippers would have responded to the building with pride as it symbolised British dominance. Today’s users are majorly still Anglican worshippers and the growing number of worshippers mean that the church would be used more than at the time that it was initially built.
On the other hand, approaching MCSH was a contrast to approaching OSP. A dominant grand building standing tall on a raised platform rose as I walked towards it. The six exterior ionic pillars with immense pedestals which are larger than an average human really made me feel discrete and powerless. This adds an authoritive label to the church. (See Figure 2 for exterior illustration) Catholic worshippers were the original clients and the same remains today.
The two distinctly different churches were designed by their architects deliberately to show the different faiths being practised at each church and how specific elements reveal this. This paper addresses how the ordering principles of the columns in both Metropolitan Cathedral and Old St Paul’s reveal that the architects planned the structural element not just for functional demands, but to compliment aesthetic values as well.
Columns are essential building elements which are used both in OSP and MCSH. In OSP the basic function of the square base column is to support the ribs of the vaults. In MCSH the internal ionic columns are placed to support the altar canopy in the sanctuary area. The columns in each church add to the overall experience with ones individual personal relationship with god.
Approaching through the sideway entry at OSP creates an extra anxious wait for seeing the internal of the church at a full scale. There is a true definite emotional aspect walking through the entrance as it somehow silently makes one go on a journey, a journey to God. The columns are noticeable because they are placed near the seating area by the nave so therefore when sitting down looking towards the chancel, the view is filled with the columns alongside the nave with the presence of artificial light inside the church. Although, with purely natural light coming into the church the columns are certainly no distraction when looking at the chancel area because of the dimness created by the stained glass windows. To an extent hides the tall columns and the focus of the eye is upon the chancel due to the maximum natural light in the church being maintained in this area. Margaret Alington reinforces:
…quality of light within the building is dim, however, as a Neo- Gothicists believed that this was suitable for their style of architecture…Natural light leaves Old St Paul’s feeling gloomy… additional lighting is directed throughout the nave and chancel areas (47).
Today, approaching into MCSH is similar to the entering into OSP because the new entrance is perpendicular to the sanctuary area and the internal columns appear when looking towards the chancel. Two main ionic columns which support the altar canopy but there are other decorative purpose ionic columns like structures attached to the arched walls. This can be misleading because they are not classified as architectural columns because they do not support anything. The white columns in the altar from far have a very powerful and elegant look because it holds the canopy in which a painting of Jesus placed underneath. From a closer view, the size of the columns really did place my perspective in scale and the details of the Ionic order appeared more clearly.
Historian Margaret Alington explains that “one of the most striking features of the Gothic style is the relationship between structure and appearance. They are as one” (32). This is portrayed through the columns in OSP. Alington also states that:
…it is from these columns that the ribs appear to grow. At their beginning, the ribs encase the columns, and at a greater height do they become elements on their own right (38).
Thatcher designed the column set up this way to follow the Gothic tradition of emphasising height. Alington further mentions that the “continuation of the columns, the ribs add to the organic feeling of the vertical growth which the building possess (38). The Christian soul experiences uplift as the height of the building is symbolic during worship (38). This is an example of the column contributing to the building in physical terms as well as showing historical ideas that they can be seen as being representative of. (See figure 3 for ribs growing from column).
Internally, the Ionic order columns are employed by Petre in MCSH to support up the altar canopy. The Ionic column is historically defined by Italian architects, as one of three orders built by the Greeks. Many structures are seen portraying Ionic columns, and examples are seen throughout the world. The Coliseum in Rome, Italy shows a simple Ionic column that has lasted since the original construction in 1st Century AD. The Erechtheion in Athens, Greece is also exhibiting the Ionic column. Dating back to the building of these structures, the Ionic column was an obvious favourite, when trying to communicate strength and dignity. Dr Fil Hearn describes the ionic capital as being “faintly evocative of feminine curls but abstractly decorative all the same” (110). This explains that Petre wanted to exhibit strength and dignity to the church but at the same time have a decorative quality to it. This relates to a respectful relationship with God where as in OSP it is a more personal one. (See figure 4 columns supporting altar canopy).
Gothic architecture is unique in its use of materials. Alington mentions that:
…In medieval Europe, the building material was stone- usually limestone, frequently sandstone and occasionally granite. This heavy material was made to soar to great heights and to feel light in gothic spires (66).
Although, stone is rare in New Zealand but timber is an available resource and the “gothic style of England was adapted into this material” (66). Thatcher cleverly manipulated the new wooden elements used inside the church as a substitute to stone. New Zealand rimu timber is used for the square base columns inside OSP which lead into the ribbed vaults which are also made from rimu. Rimu can be used in interior situations for a variety of elements, without the need for treatment from decay. Alington writes “the English settlers bought with them the style and technologies of their mother country” (66). The natural browns of rimu are present in the columns. This also gives a homely effect which ultimately plays with ones senses and leads to a worship of personal qualities. (See figure 5 for colour palette). As an effect of running my hands down a column, the smooth texture of wood is an indication that it has been varnished and handled very carefully.
On the other hand MCSH has been made out a much harder structural material. It has a red brick and masonry exterior and white Oamaru stone in the interior, also plastered pilasters and concrete was used for greater strength and is weather resistant. My conclusions of why stone is used for the ionic columns in MCSH and in neoclassical buildings are because of the solidity of the stone. It adds to the overall effect of the building of representing strength and dignity as this was a key prospect in classical architecture. Also, the painting of Jesus under the altar canopy needs to have a strong support by the columns. This is symbolic in a way because the ionic columns act as the strength of the church as this may be the importance for the shelter of Jesus Christ.
The architects of both churches purposely used ordering principles to position the columns to create, axis, symmetry, hierarchy, rhythm and repetition. Both churches include ordering principles which overall create an emotional experience on the worshipper of each respective church. Some aesthetic values are also created in this process.
“Geometry formed the basis of gothic art” (Alington, 54). Thatcher designed OSP with series of squares. Also the repetition of equilateral triangles were employed by Thatcher to “symbolise the Trinity, and the quatrefoil being symbolic of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four evangelists” (Alington, 60). (See figure 6 for plan)
The forms and spaces of any building should acknowledge the hierarchy inherent in the functions they accommodate, the users they serve, the purpose or meaning they convey, and the scope or context they address (Ching, 320).
Ching is addressing to the fact that forms and spaces should have a purpose in a building and they must portray a meaning and this is what is done in OSP by Thatcher. The placement of the columns creates an axis running through the centre of the nave and this also establishes a symmetrical arrangement of the columns and space. Ching states that “a symmetrical condition cannot exist without implying the existence of an axis”… (330). A hierarchy of the chancel area is also formed by the columns creating a visual direction to look towards when sitting down. This hierarchy is formed by size and placement. “…dominate an architectural composition by being significantly different in size… (339), “…the focus of a centralised or radial organisation” (339). “Rhythm refers to any movement characterised by a patterned recurrence of elements at regular intervals” (356). This is true because of the pattern made by the columns in OSP as they are placed at regular intervals on either side of the nave. This creates a sense of order and is pleasing to the eye as one walks into the church. (See figure 7 for plan).
The Classical language of architecture adheres to notions of natural order and beauty through harmony and discipline and Petre addresses this in MCSH. Symmetry and harmony is achieved by using balanced axis through the building. Everything is perfectly balanced (or was until the restoration and additions in the 1980s).Each part of the building stands a mirror image of the other part – from macro to the micro. This creates symmetry which is very aesthetically pleasing. Ching mentions that “radiating elements such as the composition can be divided into similar halves along a central axis” (330). The windows also match up to their opposites. Entrances into the building stand opposite the entrance to the sanctuary. Nothing is random or asymmetrical. The two columns supporting the altar canopy creates the hierarchy point because the main painting of Jesus is placed underneath the altar. Also because there are only two proper columns inside MCSH, the rest which are decorative illusions are placed against the arched walls. (See figure 8 for plan)
In comparison, OSP and MCSH have numerous ordering principles although, MCSH has a very controlled and dignified march to the focus of the Sanctuary which is first manipulated by the narrow columnisation at the exterior portico, with a pace that makes you hurry. MCSH holds a more disciplined order through the arrangement of elements than OSP.
For aesthetic considerations Petre used the golden section in MCSH.
The Greeks recognised the dominating role the Golden sections and the proportions of the human body…they utilised this proportions in their temple structures (Ching, 286)
The golden section/ratio is also used in the ionic column. The base end of the ionic column is 0.618 time larger than the top end. This creates a perfect balance for the element which creates visually pleasing qualities and supposedly to be the perfect building ratio. The golden section is not only present in the columns but also in the whole church itself. The external face of MCSH is all presented through this ratio and also the floor and ceiling all use this rule. This symbolises authority through perfection and order and impacts worship activities in many ways. The sense of perfection and order in MCSH discards any sense of private discovery of god because everything has been discovered through the perfection of the building.
Similarly, the original floor plan of OSP is based on this golden section. Although that is the only aspect of the golden section used in this church and aesthetic values thrive through the arrangement of elements as discussed before. Thatcher and Petre planned the columns to fit ordering principles which suited functional demands and complimented aesthetic values too.
Overall, OSP demonstrates the Neo-Gothic style, following the ecclesiological society and MCSH demonstrates the Neo classical style following the Ionic order effectively. The functional demand of the columns in MCSH is to support the altar canopy of which the main painting of Jesus is placed under and therefore serves an important role in the church. Meanwhile is OSP the columns are present to support the rubbed vaults which ultimately holds the church up. Thatcher and Petre use ordering principles such as axis, symmetry, hierarchy, rhythm and repetition to show reason for each respectable church and to create aesthetic properties as well. Aesthetics values were also evident through the use of the golden mean and this was employed in both churches. The columns presented in both churches contribute to each of the buildings in physical terms as well as the historical ideas that they can be seen as being representative of. The two architectural movements (Gothic revival and Neo-classical) in the 18th and 19th century were evident in both churches and Thatcher and Petre can be proud with their creation of both churches as it is a place for many worshippers today.