More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi's dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. But the dome's construction methods are still a secret, as no plans or sketches have been discovered. The only clue Brunelleschi left behind was a wooden and brick model. While the dome has been plagued by cracks for centuries, new breakthroughs in muon imaging may help preservationists uncover how to save the iconic structure and reveal new ideas on its construction.
Florence: The Latest Architecture and News
Throughout the spring and summer of 2018, the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy will host a new site-specific project seeking to further our understanding of ecology, and the relationship between humans and the natural world. “The Florence Experiment” will connect internal and external spaces of the famed Renaissance palace through two separate experiences: an intertwined set of 65-foot-high (20-meter-high) slides, and a “live analysis” of the impact of human emotion on plant growth.
The Florence Experiment has been devised by German artist Carsten Höller and plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, with the vision of turning the Palazzo Strozzi’s façade and courtyard into engaging areas of scientific and artistic experiment. Inspired by the Renaissance alliance between art and science, the project aims to create a new awareness of the way we see, understand, and interact with plant life.
A Spanish tourist has been killed by a piece of falling masonry in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. As reported by The Guardian, the 52-year old victim was hit by "a piece of decorative stone that fell from a height of 20 metres (66 ft) as he visited the religious building with his wife." Reports suggest that the fragment was around 15cm by 15cm (6 by 6 inches) in size; according to Yahoo, the fragment "had supported a beam in the right transept of the Basilica."
Following the incident, the attraction has been closed to visitors indefinitely.
Each year, thousands of tourists flock to the Italian region of Tuscany to view works of architectural mastery. Renowned architectural figures such as Michelangelo and Brunelleschi transformed Tuscan cities to be stages of cultural rebirth during the 14th-17th century. These times, however, have passed. Today, Tuscany is faced with problems such as the decline of suburbs, abandoned buildings, and property speculation. The modern Italian architecture scene is in decline, and the country is experiencing an oversupply of architects, requiring many to emigrate in search of work.
Can the spirits of these Renaissance architectural masterminds be emulated today in modern Tuscany? This is exactly the topic that cultural association 120g explores in their new documentary, Tuscanyness. The film depicts how this nature of cultural rebirth is alive today through the architects born and educated in the Tuscan region. Here, emerging architects have the unique opportunity to listen to the teachings of the past to inform the architecture of the future.
The Italian city of Florence is, according to an article for The Observer, seeking "a better class of tourist." Palazzos are being sold off and converted into hotels and spas, and the ubiquitous 'luxury apartment' development brands are creeping ever closer to some of the city's most treasured architectural monuments. In response, a recent report from UNESCO is urging the municipal government to consider the long-term effects of proposed infrastructural plans on the city, which was inscribed in 1982. "For many vocal and disgruntled Florentines," Stephanie Kirchgaessner writes, "the Palazzo Vecchio is looking less like a stately symbol of civic pride and more like an estate agency."
The new Florentine museum of the Opera del Duomo, affiliated to the city's cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, is set to reopen its doors to the public next week following years of restoration and reconstruction. 6000 square metres of exhibition space, designed by Adolfo Natalini and Guicciardini & Magni architetti, will house the largest collection of Florentine medieval and Renaissance sculpture in the world, including pieces by Donatello, Michelangelo (the Florentine Pietà), Andrea Pisano, Lorenzo Ghiberti (Gates of Paradise), and Luca della Robbia. It will also exhibit fifteen 14th century statues and almost seventy fragments from the cathedral's original medieval façade.
Read Monsignor Timothy Verdon's, Director of the Opera, narrative of the new spaces after the break.
The Pazzi Chapel is a landmark of architecture in the city that was once the cradle of the Italian Renaissance: Florence. Located in the Santa Croce church complex (the largest Franciscan church in the world), the chapel was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi - the goldsmith-turned-architect who dedicated his life to engineering the dome of Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore. It is "a prime example of 15th-century architectural decoration in grey pietra serena sandstone, colourful maiolica, and terracotta."
550 years have taken their toll on this structure and its decoration. Concern for the state of the loggia of the chapel is now so great that the non-profit institution in charge of the church’s administration - the Opera di Santa Croce - have raised 50% of the funds needed to carry out a restoration, set to begin in early 2015. They are now looking to crowdfunding to source the remaining half ($95,000) and, in so doing, are inviting people from around the world to become part of the 720-year-long history of Santa Croce.
More than 500 years after it was built, Filippo Brunelleschi's dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, remains the largest masonry dome ever built. Leaving no plans or sketches behind, some of the secrets of its construction that Brunelleschi pioneered are still an enigma today. This short animation, presented by National Geographic and created by Fernando Baptista and Matthew Twombly, gives an idea of how the dome of the Duomo might have been built. Demonstrating the complexity of the task, made harder due to poor construction prior to Brunelleschi's commission, this film serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to create something timeless.
In an article for the New York Times Rachel Donadio examines Masterworks vs. the Masses. From the Louvre in Paris to London's British Museum, Florence's Uffizi to the Vatican Museums, the increasing surge of visitors to these international cultural nodes "has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces." Balancing everyone's right to be "nourished" by cultural experiences with protecting and preserving the works of art in question is a very real problem. According to Donadio, "even when the art is secure, the experience can become irksome." With some museums seeing annual visitors of up to 6.7 million visitors (British Museum), addressing the issues faced by institutions that are a victim of their own success is becoming more and more pressing. Read the article in full here.
A new hour long documentary for PBS' series, Building the Great Cathedrals, explores the mystery of how, in the 15th century, Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi constructed one of the largest domes the world had ever seen. Winning what could be considered one of the earliest architectural competitions, Brunelleschi developed a unique system that allowed construction on the dome to occur while services were being conducted in the cathedral 100 metres below. The team in this episode model this freestanding structure in an attempt to understand just how Brunelleschi achieved such a feat of Renaissance engineering.
You can find out more about the film here. Please note that the film is only viewable through PBS within the USA. For those of you outside the USA, you can watch the 30 second preview above; for those in the USA, see the full video after the break...
Thomas Fisher, Professor in the School of Architecture and Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, discusses the subject matter of his most recent book, Designing To Avoid Disaster: The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design.
The above video, filmed and edited by DUOSEGNO Visual Design, features a look into the new Careggi entrance in Florence, designed by Ipostudio which becomes the ‘gateway’ to the hospital campus as it acts as both an urban junction as well as an architectural presence. The new entrance does not just function as a door to get inside, but is an area for strolling, for spontaneous interaction, and a place which represents the intricacy of the largest hospital development in all of central Italy. Through a new ‘square’, a new archway for Florence, this covered plaza, which draws inspiration from the grand urban traditions of the Florentine porticos, allows for this to happen.
The new extension designed by 1+1=1 Claudio Silvestrin Giuliana Salmaso architects and planners for laRinascente in Piazza della Repubblica, Florence, is conceived as a symbol of strength through the square, yet of lightness, in the detail of the Archangel’s wing in Filippo Lippi’s painting of the Annunciation. Visually, the new extension is floating above Palazzo del Trianon while preserving its authentic architectural structure. More images and project description after the break.
The team of Uros Novakovic and Nevena Radojevic have shared with us their proposal for a Urban Design Contest in Florence, Italy which focuses specifically on the development of Santa Maria Novella Square. Additional images and a project description after the break.
Uros Novakovic and Renato Pucci, students of the Università di Firenze in Florence, Italy shared with us their temporary pavilion for the Italian national rail-transport company. You can see more images and architect’s description after the break.