Vicenza (2)

After the Teatro Olimpico, I doubled back to pick up the buildings I had missed first time.

The Palazzo Thiene, designed by Giulio Romano, but executed by Palladio:-

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The Loggia del Capitaniato, much richer in surface ornament and sculptural decoration than the earlier Basilica:-

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And, lastly, the Basilica Palladiana itself, commissioned in 1546, when Palladio was 40, and begun in April 1549:-

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Vicenza (1)

I started my Palladian tour at the Palazzo Porto, an incomplete project, two bays only, designed for Alessandro Porto in 1571:-

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Then, the Palazzo Valmarana, 1565, for Isabella Nogarola Valmarana:-

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The Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, designed in 1569 for Montano Barbarano, a man ‘of belles lettres and an excellent musician’, and now the Museo Palladio (models of other projects):-

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The Teatro Olimpico, Palladio’s last great work (he died in August 1580 just after completing the design) and built during the 1580s for the Accademia Olimpica and with stage scenery by Scamozzi. It opened on 3 March 1585 with a performance of Oedipus Rex and is, to an extent, the inspiration for David Chipperfield’s Lecture Theatre in Burlington Gardens (he believes Pennethorne’s design is based on it, but his is closer):-

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Venice (1)

If London is hot, Venice is even hotter. I wandered back from the Arsenale through the northern parishes, as far away as possible from St. Mark’s, past the entrance to the Arsenale itself, the Porta Magna, thought to have been built from a design by Jacopo Bellini:-

Then to S. Francesco della Vigna.

Past the Liceo Scientifico, previously the church of S. Giustina, designed by Longhena in 1636, suppressed as a convent in 1810, and converted into a school in 1928:-

A Palazzo on the south side of the Campo S. Giustina:-

The Chiesa dell’Ospedaletto, which I’ve seen and photographed before, but love the over-the-top sculpture of the facade, also designed by Longhena:-

Two good sculptures in the street just before you get to S. Giovanni e Paolo:-

And then S. Giovanni e Paolo itself:-

And the facade of the Scuola Grande di S. Marco:-


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Peter Zumthor

The collection of models by Peter Zumthor, all from the collection of the Kunsthaus in Bregenz, makes it possible to see and survey (but not to photograph) key examples of his recent work.   The dates must relate to the modrls, not the projects themselves:  exhibition space for a sculpture by Walter de Maia at Dia Beacon (2005) – large, empty and top-lit;  a beautiful, circular hotel in Atacama, Chile (2010); the Perm State Art Gallery, a purely sensual, pod-like space (2012);  the new building for LACMA which sweeps away nearly all the existing buildings on the site to replace them with a new scultural vocabulary (2013);  his ground-hugging project for the Fondation Beyeler (2016).   It’s easy to see why he has such a central place in the Biennale.

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The British Pavilion

I now feel a slight sense of embarrassment as I approach the British pavilion in the Venice Biennale.   The Biennale started in 1895, the British pavilion was designed by Edwin Alfred Rickards, the architect of Methodist Central Hall, and opened in 1909.   We were given a central place in the Celesteville view of national competition in culture.   I no longer feel we deserve this with our insular retreat in Little Englandism and xenophobia and our determination to renounce our historic links and collaboration with neighbouring countries in Europe;  and I am glad to be able to say this when freedom of speech has been so stifled amongst all those in any way on the payroll of the state.

Caruso St. John have just ignored the pavilion and built a temporary viewing platform on top:-

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The Arsenale

In the discussion after the Annual Architecture Lecture last week, Grafton Architects claimed not to have been motivated in their choice of international architects by any consistent notions of style.   But, as one walks down the great spaces of the Corderie, it seems obvious that they are interested in low volume, social projects, which make good use of natural materials and create unrhetorical public spaces.

Níall McLaughlin opens, an Irish architect with an interest in Yeats:-

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Opposite is a school building near Pune by Case Design:-

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Z33, a House for Contemporary Art, designed by Francesca Torza is purely in this spirit: low-key, extremely sensual, built out of handmade bricks, an aesthetic retreat:-

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I admired the work of De Blacam and Meagher, more Irish architects, who have reconstructed the central space of their Cork Institute of Technology as if it was drawn by Bellini.

What comes across most of all is a sense of materiality – the enjoyment of brick and stone in built form:-

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Lord Burlington’s Streets

I was asked to speak last night at a party for the Westminster Property Forum. I found myself trying to explain the historical significance of the grid of streets immediately north of Burlington Gardens, all built on land acquired by the first Earl of Burlington between 1670 and 1683: Burlington Gardens, so called because it was the northern perimeter of the garden of Burlington House; Savile Row, which was laid out between 1731 and 1735 (the first two leases are dated March 1732) and named after Lady Dorothy Savile, the third Earl’s wife; Cork Street, so-called because the third Earl of Burlington was also the fourth Earl of Cork; and Clifford Street, named after the first Earl’s mother. In other words, they are an integrated piece of eighteenth-century town planning, designed after the third Earl had returned from his second Grand Tour, having seen admired the layout of the streets of Vicenza and planned in order to help pay off his debts.

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Poster Bar

While I’m about it, I also want to promote the Poster Bar on the ground floor of Burlington Gardens, which opens every morning at 8am. At the moment, I am the only person using it at that hour, drinking a lonely cappuccino.

It serves coffee:-

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Cakes:-

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And meringues:-

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