Rowe 2 - The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa First published...

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The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa First published in the Architectural Review, 1947.
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2 The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa There are two causes of beauty-natural and customary. Natural is from geometry consisting in uniformity, that is equality and proportion. Customary beauty is begotten by the use, as familiarity breeds a love for things not in themselves love- ly. Here lies the great occasion of errors, but always the true test is natural or geometrical beauty. Geometrical figures are naturally more beautiful than irregu- lar ones: the square, the circle are the most beautiful, next the parallelogram and the oval. There are only two beautiful positions of straight lines, perpendicular and horizontal; this is from Nature and consequently necessity, no other than upright being firm. -Sir Christopher Wren, Parentalia As the ideal type of centralized building Palladia's Villa Capra-Rotonda (Plate 1) has, perhaps more than any other house, imposed itself upon the imagination. Mathematical, abstract, four square, without apparent function and totally memo- rable, its derivatives have enjoyed universal distribution; and, when he writes of it, Palladia is lyrical. The site is as pleasant and delightful as can be found, because it is on a small hill of very easy access, and is watered on one side by the Bacchiglione, a navigable river; and on the other it is encompassed about with most pleasant risings which look like a very great theatre and are all cultivated about with most excellent fruits and most exquisite vines; and therefore as it enjoys from every part most beautiful views, some of which are limited, some more extended, and others which terminate with the horizon, there are loggias made in all four fronts.' When the mind is prepared for the one by the other, a passage from Le Cor- busier's Precisions may be unavoidably reminiscent of this. No less lyrical but rather more explosive, Le Corbusier is describing the site of his Savoye House at Poissy (Plate 2). Le site: une vaste pelouse bornbee en dome aplati. La rnaison est une boite en "air ... au milieu des prairies dominant Ie verger Le plan est pur .... II it sa juste place dans l'agreste paysage de Poissy .... Les habitants, venus ici parce que cette campagne agreste etait belle avec sa vie de campagne, ils la contempleront, maintenue intacte, du haut de leur jardin suspendu qu des quatre faces de leurs fenetres en longueur. Leur vie domestique sera inseree dans un reve virgilien.? The Savoye House has been given a number of interpretations. It may indeed be a machine for living in, an arrangement of interpenetrating volumes and spaces, an emanation of space-time; but the suggestive reference to the dreams of Virgil may put one in mind of the passage in which Palladia describes the Rotonda. Palladio's landscape is more agrarian and bucolic, he evokes less of the untamed pastoral, his scale is larger; but the effect of the two passages is somehow the same. Palladia, writing elsewhere, amplifies the ideal life of the villa. Its owner, from
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3 The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa
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This note was uploaded on 07/27/2010 for the course ARCH 4140 taught by Professor Mical during the Spring '10 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Rowe 2 - The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa First published...

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