Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa

Andrea Palladio has been identified as a mannerist, since his work resisted previous canons and the architecture of the renaissance that was obsessed with linear order. This resistance included the displacement of order in plan and, later discussed, the interruption of perspective in elevation. This resistance is interpreted from a reading of his architecture, based on the establishment of an order but also its critique. Palladio incorporates an a posteriori displacement, a variation that would critique the initial predetermination of the order he establishes. With this critique, Palladio anticipated the work of Borromini and many posterior architects, since even if his project seems not to suspend the pendulum between the past renaissance and the baroque to come, by critiquing the predetermination of order, he anticipates a conflict between predetermination and post-determination building a continuity between the two. What is interesting in regards to a post-historical manifesto, is that his project was arguably one of the first to both define and also critique a continual cultural problem in humanism.

Palladio defined a modern project based on structure, that is based on the recognition of absolute idea order, identified by the humanists of the time. This modernism was based on an advancement from Leon Battista Alberti system of measurements, which Palladio used to establish a system of relationships between spaces, assigning continuity across the composition through alternating rhythmic mathematical ratios. He reinforced a general logic, not only relating part to whole, but creating a responsive structural system that can be both referenced and altered, subsequently giving an underlying sense of control to the organization. While a normal proportion is kept constant, the other varies by inducing displacements to this initial reference, projecting a relationship that is both kept, accumulated but also displaced. This system of relationships systematically controls decisions based on proportions parameterized by mathematical progression, but particularly developing a self referential modern consciousness. This mental consciousness critiques the ideal, generic, typological set of pre-established relationships incorporating variations to the composition with singular displacements that activate specific architecture problems that respond to the logic of the particular. This systematic work across Palladio's villas is demonstrated by Rudolph Wittkower's common nine square grid composition. 

An alternative projective topological exercise on Palladio’s Palazzo Chiericati may offer a parallel argument to Peter Eisenman’s diagrams. The first characteristic of this building, according to James Ackerman, is its disproportion. Spaces are longitudinal and narrow due to the compression of sequential spatial layers perpendicular to the main axis, which are organized in a distorted nine square grid figure. This disproportion forced by the constraint of the site, but independently from indexing this circumstance, it activates a more relevant organizational problem. The building is sited on what was the edge of Vicenza. The placement is quite particular, as a concession by the commune, arguing a benefit with the public loggia, allowed Palladio to build beyond the site, placing this particularly designed loggia in public grounds.

These series of displacements that relate horizontal to vertical in the floor plan develop an alternative idea of architecture topology, since one may reconstruct the relationship between the original type and the final design in a continuous elastic diagram, a genealogy of dynamic forces that accumulates traces. Furthermore, this topological transformation enables such displacement that critiques the initial ideal nine square grid organization proposing a distinct typological change, displacing the organization from a centralized singular organization to a field of layered spaces with no hierarchy. This critiquing of the initial scheme is developed in an intrinsic to architecture operation.  In addition, the design ultimately seems to tension spaces apart from the elastic generic organization. The design of the spaces acquire certain autonomy from the generic relational logic, and even if one may trace this formal genealogy, the composition is not reversible, adding tension to the organization.


It is interesting to question why Wittkower, did not include such an extreme variation in his eleven paradigmatic  diagrams. Independently from excluding categories (palazzo-villa) his reductive method forced him to include only variations with a differential change of degree and not such radical and conceptual typological change, which establishes in the series a specific to architecture differentiation. There are some clues that can give certain argumentation to this idea crossing categories between villas and palazzos. One is the location at the outskirt of the town looking at the landscape, as the openness of the facade makes this Pallazzo relate to the porticos of the villas. But a more relevant curiosity may be that in Quattro Libri he placed Villa Rotonda in the section on palaces rather than the one on villas.

[...] Partially published in Instalaciones: Sobre el Trabajo de Peter Eisenman and some of the conclusions of this analysis provided the ground for the Yale Constructs Spring 2013 article on Eisenman's Palladio Virtuel.