Renaissance Architecture Essay

Renaissance Architecture Essay

Architecture remains an integral topic to discuss when historical shifts in the time periods occur and the many forms of art begin to shift as well. This is especially present during the artistic shift from the medieval period to the Renaissance where proportions and symmetry are reappearing ideas originating from mainly Greek and Roman times. During the Renaissance period, architects such as Bartolommeo Bandinelli were known for the exceptionally designed domes in Florence, which were larger than ever previously encountered. While the exterior elements of Renaissance architecture were impressive by themselves, the interior elements were unique as well, particularly the acoustics of the structures. The acoustics of the cathedrals in Italy were designed to fit the type of music of this time. The Renaissance gave rise to the use of polyphony which is a multilayered faster type of music. Renaissance architecture and acoustics were considered a divine connection to the harmonious nature of the world by using proportions and symmetry leading to modern techniques of diffusing sound in concert halls and sound booths as well as design techniques used in the architecture and engineering fields today.
The Renaissance churches were designed with the idea of the utility of the churches at this time. Unlike most modern churches, Renaissance churches were not only used for daily services and monks monophonic chants, but the acoustics needed to account for the annual festivals and large gatherings of larger organizations. This required the use of the church for not only monophonic, but also polyphonic music. The architects of Renaissance churches designed the space for both needs. The decorations in the church became an integral part of the sound clarity of the church for the festive occasions because of the absorptive properties of the materials as well as the audience that would fill the church on the special days.
Decorations as well and the materials used in the construction of the churches were most influential in the sound quality heard inside. The absorption properties of the decorations as well as the large audience resulted in an increase in the absorption of sound and a decrease in the reverberation time. The events hosted in the church influenced the type of music as well as decorations that were heard and placed in the church. The polyphony was heard during festivals in the church and the curtains and other sound dampening materials were used to allow the sound to travel quicker to the audience in the back of the church. This provided the listener with a clear multilayered sound rather than the muffled sound that would occur with the slower speed of the sound.
The universality of the church was that when the church was not filled with a grand audience, the church was used by the monks for monophonic chants, which does not require the quicker sound distance as with polyphony. This uniqueness was determined when modern music historians began...

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In my travels throughout Europe I have found the architecture of the Renaissance Period to be the most beautiful and breathtaking of all I saw. Even greater than the Gothic cathedrals and their tall spires, I found the simpler lines of the Renaissance architecture to really define what is beauty to me. Many of the photos shown here are of buildings, cathedrals, palaces, and bapisteries I searched out in my quest to see for myself all the beautiful architecture I was shown on slides during the Western Cultural class I took in college. Yes, Dr. Reid would be proud of me for finding each of the buildings he had shown us as great examples of Renaissance Art. So, I have compiled them for you here so you can admire the beauty and hopefully be inspired in some way by them as I have been. Because some of my photos were more than 30 years old and fading, the photos depicted here are from wikipedia.

A little about Renaissance Architecture

The architecture of the Renaissance Period is the period in time from the early 15th century through the 17th century in different regions of Europe. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was followed by the Baroque style. The Renaissance architecture can be described as the revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture.

Renaissance architecture was, of course, developed first in Florence, Italy with Filippo Brunelleschi, one of its finest architectural innovators. He used mathematical and geometrical calculations in his designs and was one of the first architects to do so. His innovations and the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities and then throughout Europe. The Renaissance style in architecture included the following:

  • emphasis on symmetry, proportions and geometry
  • regularity of parts to the whole as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical Rome
  • orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters, and lintels
  • use of semi-circular arches, niches,, and aedicules, replaced the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings

Mannerism became part of the later Renaissance style. Michaelangelo is credited with using the Mannerist style and with inventing giant order: a large pilaster that stretches from the bottom to the top of a facade. Mannerism is also described a style in which harmony gave way to freer and more imaginative rythms. Architects also experimented with using architectural forms to emphasize solid and spacial relation.

The Renaissance Architecture outside Italy

As the new architectural style spread out of Italy throughout Europe, most of the other European countries developed a proto-Renaissance style. Each country constructed its own architectural traditions to the new style, so that the Renaissance buildings across Europe are diversified by region. Outside Italy, Baroque architecture was more widespread and fully developed than in Italy and the Renaissance style.

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