General Characteristics of Renaissance architecture

General Principles of the Renaissance

The School of Athens, one of the scenes in the Vatican Rooms of Raphael (1512-1514) is a work that shows the relationship of the Renaissance with Humanism and Classicism. In an architectural environment inspired by the works of St. Peter's Basilica in which Raphael himself intervened, are portrayed, embodying the wise Greeks, many contemporary artists and architects.

The Renaissance architecture was fairly related to a vision of the world during that period held in two pillars: the classicism and humanism.

It is noteworthy that Renaissance ideals and values could not arise wholly unrelated to the medieval acquis that preceded it, however, the concepts behind this architectural style were built on the conscious and effective breakdown of the artistic production of the Middle Ages, in Special Gothic.

We analyze the following general characteristics:


  • Search the classical ideal: Through classicism, Renaissance men looked to the Greco-Roman world as a model for contemporary society, seeking to apply in everyday material reality that they felt it belonged to a more idyllic than real. In this sense, architecture, in particular, attempted to realize classical concepts such as beauty, and theorizing emerging movement and management, based on the classical Greek architecture and Roman. According to Renaissance theorists it was the right path to achieve the ideal world.
  • Secular vision on religious themes: The classical values, from the standpoint of Christianity, enormously influential in this period (having the mind that emerged in Renaissance Italy, where the presence of the Catholic Church was crucial for the Arts), were considered pagan and sinful nature. To overcome such suppression of the Catholic Church, joined the Christian worldview with the draft recovery of classical ideals, through scenes and buildings desacralized-made man. This was another innovation of the movement.
  • Influence of nature: nature was seen as the supreme creation of the work of God and the element closest to perfection (another of the ideals we had to search through classical aesthetics). So, we go from finding inspiration in nature for inspiration in the forms of nature itself, as proposed by the classics, making this an autonomous value.
  • Anthropocentrism and humanism as well as nature's perfect creation, turns his eyes to human being: it leaves behind the theocentrism medieval to enter the anthropocentrism. The man is analyzed, instead of as being created in the image and likeness of God, as a reference and the universe. Therefore it will be the focus of artistic expression, with an even more important than during classical antiquity. The humanism, as a philosophical current, manifested as a feeling committed to the representation of man in the Universe, and reaffirmed its presence. Humanist philosophy advocated the study of nature as a means to knowledge, most of the universe as a whole, that of individual things.

The importance of perspective

Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, designed by Michelangelo, an example of perspective space.
Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, designed by Michelangelo, an example of perspective space.

An important in defining the spatiality of the Renaissance is the incorporation of the perspective as a tool for architectural design and the notion of design as a form of knowledge.

The main break with medieval space occurs at the time of the Renaissance architects spend on their buildings to design a development in which design rules are easily assimilated by the users. From an objective analysis of space, chaired by an empirical sense, reach conclusions that will dictate the pace of the building itself and its environment.

The mastery of classical language, to get these useful effects on buildings, makes possible the study of perspective. As a result, there arises an architecture embedded in a space perspective, fully grasped by the observer and whose proportional relationships are shown analytically and objectively.

These new spatial relations are especially evident when compared with the present space in the cathedral Gothic. In them, the architectural intent is that the observer, from the moment you enter the building, is dominated by space and instinctively raise his eyes to the top, thus providing an upward movement in search of the figure of God. In other words, all of this monumental Gothic space has a function, among others, that is having the will of the individual and determine their wishes, the role of stay and use of the building. Renaissance space, the intention is just the opposite: the building does not dominate the individual, but it reflects on its spatial and driving. He moved the concept of an architecture to fit a God to the measure of man.

The Renaissance tratadística

 Vitruvian Inspiration

 Leonardo da Vinci was one of the artists who were inspired by Vitruvius. This design, Vitruvian Man is the interpretation of Leonardo to the rules of proportion defined by Vitruvius in his Ten Books of Architecture.

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the artists who were inspired by Vitruvius. This design, Vitruvian Man is the interpretation of Leonardo to the rules of proportion defined by Vitruvius in his Ten Books of Architecture.

The recovery of the ideals of classical architecture, introduced by Renaissance culture, must necessarily go beyond the mere observation of reality. The architecture produced by Renaissance artists, humanists in general, tried to maintain a scholarly and literary image, beyond the mere reproduction of the Greco-Roman ruins. The architects created always looking for an ideal model to the detriment of existing models (with many special ruins in Italy). These ideals or idealized models were processed and reflected in a theoretical, as the treaties give rise to classical architecture of the period.

Undoubtedly, the creation of the theoretical model, observation of the ruins was the predominant inspiration early Italian Renaissance architects, but evolved as the Renaissance, scholars, will systematically offer or recover the fees and technical works from classicism to write their own treatises on style, which although based on classicism, become effectively anti-classical.

It is notable for the formation of the Renaissance tratadística preservation of ten books of The Architecture of Roman architect Vitruvius, the first century BC, for the dissemination of basic ideas of canon and order. This was the only treaty which survived from the classical period following the fall of Rome, during the Middle Ages, having been copied and preserved in fragmentary form in general, in the libraries of the monasteries. So, as volumes were copied and translated, designs and drawings that made the treaties were lost, so its subject matter became over time confusing and sometimes contradictory. For this reason, much effort Renaissance writers would be content to recover the lost, reaching for its consummation to venture in any way patterns that existed in the original text.

The Vitruvian treated as the only major reference classical architectural theorist, and despite their lack of content, provided the basis for all major studies undertaken by the Renaissance. For example, a work clearly derived from the Vitruvian are the ten books of Leon Battista Alberti, known as In re aedificatoria. Android app