Habsburg Spain

  • From Habsburg dynasty in Spain, Philip planned Escorial into a grid. Escorial had a complex program, providing a grand domed church, a mausoleum,etc. Built of solid blocks of granite, a type of stone difficult to carve with subtle details, they stripped the façades to a bare minimum, leaving the impression of austere grandeur. The southern prospect presented a long unbroken plane, overlooking terraced gardens and a fish pond. Its forty six bays repeated relentlessly without variation. The roofs above the corner towers: steeply pitched, slate covered pyramids topped with pointed spires.
  • The entry into the Escorial leads to a long court, the Royal Patio. Philip established a new vision of Catholic order, markedly distinct from the ornate Gothic and mudejar styles of the recent Spanish past.
  • Plaza Major in Madrid was leveled and enclosed by regular arcades. Unlike Italian prcedents, the Plaza Major lacked a major monumental focus.
  • Like the sahn of a mosque, the Plaza Major appeared internally consistent and rationally placed on the cardinal axes but did not relate to the alignments of existng streets running into it.

The Paris of Henry IV: Pieces of Urban Order

  • Henry IV’s renewal proram icluded the rebuildig the royal precinct of the Louvre, quadrupling the size of the four square castle and enlarging the long gallery.
  • The Palace Royale or the Place des Vosges , changes in the internal arrangements of the lots, each faade respreced the building code for uniform materials and windows, resulting in a uniquely harmonious public space framed by vaulted arcades.
  • Similar in scale to Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, the Place des Vosges became the stage for royal ceremonials and ournaments but presented itself as a secular space for residences without a monumental focus. The elevations surrounding the square were dressed with a combination of vertical strips of stone rustication mixed with simple brick bond.

Louis XIV and Versailles: The Mirror of Absolute Rule

  • The intellectual and technical bases emerged for the modernization of Europe. Rational organization, scientfic principles and coordinated bureaucracies supplied a new means for organizing society.
  • The redesign of he east façade of the Louvre placing an oval figure at mid space, flat with rhythmically placed colossal pilasters on the corner towers and half columns on the central block.
  • Perrault achieved a harmonious synthesis for the east façade of the Louvre: a central blcok with a pediment, corner towers marked with a paired pilasters and between these slightly protruding volumes, screens made of colossal pairs of Corinthian columns.
  • As the Louvre was reaching completion, Louis XI decided to escalate his plans for Versailles. The program of the new royal palace became the king’s personal contribution to the Sun King myth.
  • The palace occupied the center of a stellate pattern which radiated on one side into the adjacent town of Versailles and on the other into the geometric terraces of a vast park that extended beyond the horizon as a metaphor of absolutist control.
  • The architect ennobled the modest brick façades with marble columns, gilded balconies and regularly placed marble busts on the two levels.
  • The entire court of Versailles, Le Vau wrapped the rear of the original brick building with a horizontal limestone clad envelope, more than doubling its area.
  • Louis XIV believed the gardens of Versailles had greater importance than the architecture of the palace. Le Notre set the gardens on a primary east-west axis that extended across a terrace with the two flanking basins, stepping don through a grid of parterres.
  • The perspective effect of looking from the palace gave him the impression of an ever widening, infinite landscape governed by strict laws of symmetry and proportion. In effect, as one moved off the central axis into the the bosques and secret gardens, the overall symetry relaxed and the secondary areas obeyed locak symmetries.