Central and sequential composition in architecture on the examples of Renaissnce and Modernism Villas.

Architectural compositions can be divided into two categories:

  • based on a centre, leading us around
  • based on a sequence, leading us through

They give buildings different circulations schemes and make people experience architecture differently. However, they both present a certain idea, which creates in their visitors a sense of order and aquires their trust.

On this daanico, I am going to juxtapose two famous edifices, which present effective use of central composition. I am going to present as well, the main features they employed, in order to accentuate their architectural compositions.

Where the idea came from?

Both archtiects were strongly influanced by the Parthenon on Acropolis. This perfect example of Classic Architecture has a bunch of features, which will be visible in both examples I am going to draw on.

  • it stands on the top of a hill, which accentuates building’s central position
  • what additionally gives it a magnificent view over the site
  • its volume and plan are easily comprehendable
  • order attained through geometry and proportions

The examples

Both examples have engraved firmly into archtiectural history, so I will present them only briefly:

  • Villa Rotonda, built in 1655 by Andrea Palladio
  • Villa Savoye, built in 1931 by Le Corbusier

The sense of geometry

Andrea Palladio’s and the movement conceived from his name, proclaimed using harmonical proportions and geometry in architecture. He valued buildings that were of rigid order and that could strike its visitors with specific sense of geometry. In villa Rotonda he aquired this quality through mathematics and calculated rooms’ dimensions’ ratio, which further responded to the overall ratio of the villa.

Moreover, the concept came from the Greeks’ studies on musical harmonies and proportions between intervals. This integration of matehmatics and art, Palladio tried to translate onto his architecture.

More about association musical harmonies and architecture, you can find on daanico about Rasmussen’s book “Experiencing Architecture”.

The same rigid order can be seen in villa Savoye. Golden ration was something, what Le Corbusier believed almost blindly. Therefore, basing on its ratio he created “Modulor“, which complemented his edifices with appropriate human-scale.

The sense of three dimensionality

Crucial is the location of the three edifices. A slightly curved hill with big areas of grass allow visitors to look at the buildings from all sides.

Parthenon came up with this solution due to the fact the tample gathered people around itself, not inside. So the place to locate people came logically from utilitarian needs.

However, in Villa Rotonda and Villa Savoye this feature was put to a completely different level. The lawn inviting guests to walk around the building accentuates their three dimensionality. It’s a firm architectural quality, which used to be overlooked by many generations of architects whose buidlings could be seen merely from their facades.

The sequence and the dominant

It makes an impression the buildings must have a centre, or some kind of compositional dominant inside. Villa Rotonda’s bedrooms are all arranged around the centre, circular hall, which is accentuated additionally by the dome above.

Villa Savoye has its ramp, which is a pivotal element of Le Corbusier’s ‘promenade architecturale’. It works like a spine linking the floors of the villa together.

Parallelly, there is also a concept of the sequence in architecture. The idea which gives the visitors a completely different experience and makes them circulate in the building in a different manner. Old Romanesque, Gothic or Baroque churches have mastered this technique throughout the history to its best.

Nowadays, it can be seen as well in shopping malls, inside which people are being to far extent controlled, in order to persuade them to spending money on the things.

The architectural composition hasn’t changed much in the history. Although, technology goes further allowing us to build structures higher, and of bigger span and size, architecture will be always summerizable to its basic principles.


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