Sunday, December 27, 2009

Palladian Side Buildings...

Palladianism was a movement in architecture based on the writings and work of Andreas Palladio, an Italian architect of the 16th century who tried to recreate the style and proportions of the buildings of ancient Rome.

Palladio himself was heavily influenced by the Roman architect, Vitruvius. And while not all of his ideas were true to the ancient ideals he was trying to imitate (due to working from ruins and partial documents), still his ideas and philosophy were widely imitated throughout Europe, and particularly in England during the 18th century.

The Englishman who popularised the Palladian style was Inigo Jones, Surveyor-General under James I. Jones was responsible for several very early classical buildings, notably Queen's House, Greenwich, and the Banqueting House at Whitehall. In many ways Jones was ahead of his time, for it was not until well into the 18th century that adherence to the classical ideals of Palladio became widespread in England.

Grace, understated decorative elements, and use of classical orders. are all hallmarks of the English Palladian style. At its most rigid, Palladianism simply copied designs made popular in Italy by Palladio. Richard Boyle, Lord Burlington (1694-1753), the foremost patron of the arts during the mid-18th century, was responsible for the success of Palladianism and the classical style in general. Burlington was an immensely influential amateur architect. He also supported men such as Colen Campbell, who was responsible for Burlington's Chiswick House, London (1725-29), and William Kent, who was responsible for the interior decoration at Burlington House. Burlington himself took a hand in the design of Chiswick House (below) and the Assembly Rooms at York.

One particular feature of the English Palladian style which I like, admire for it's practicality and which we are adapting to Willowbrook Park, are the use of side pavilions of buildings in order to enlarge a house without altering the design of the main building. They are usually attached by a classical colonnade, and are usually symmetrical in design and composition. We are going to tweak this idea slightly and have the Stables block and the Chapel form the side pavilions, attached to the main house via colonnades. And although the physical siting of the side buildings and colonnades will be perfectly symmetrical, the style of each building itself will be idiosyncratic to its function. This is in keeping with the English tradition of inheriting the family estate through successive generations and then building additional wings and out buildings in the contemporary style of each generation. It is a composite style which is fairly English when it comes to estates.

Above and below: Examples of how curved colonnades can be used to link side buildings whilst giving a depth to the overall form.

Below: The famous Palladian bridge over the river Nadder, Wilton house, Wiltshire (copied by the bridge at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire - below again).

The Palladian bridge at Stowe is a copy of the bridge at Wilton House. The main difference is that the Stowe version is designed to be used by horse drawn carriages so is set lower with shallow ramps instead of steps on the approach. Above the flanking arches there are pavilions with arches on all four sides, these have engaged columns on their flanks and ends of the same order as the colonnade which in turn support pediments, the roof is of slate, with an elaborate plaster ceiling. It was completed in 1738. There is also a copy of the Wilton Palladian bridge at Prior Park in Bath. A very popular bridge it would seem.


  1. I love Inigo Jones's work and the brilliant spaces you post here. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me.
    All the very best,

  2. Great post!! I so love the palladian buildings!
    Thank you for sharing these pictures and for writing about this style! You did that marvellous!


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