Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. His lifetime feud with Lorenzo Ghiberti sparked the miracle of the Renaissance —the rebirth—movement in Europe which changed the world of art forever.
Filippo is perhaps most famous for his discovery of perspective and for achieving successfully the construction of the gargantuan dome of the Florence cathedral—Basilica Maria del Fiore on March 25, 1436.
Florence was one of the wealthiest cities in Italy at the turn of the fifteenth century under the leadership of the Medici family who were well-known in all of Europe for patronizing the arts. Its main cathedral was falling apart as a result of the wear and tear of time. A replacement for the ancient and dilapidated Cathedral of Santa Reparata was the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Basilica of Mary of the Flower). This new edifice was intended to be one of the largest and most elegant in Christendom.
The foundation stone for the new cathedral had been laid in 1296 and finished in 1436—a total of one hundred and forty years. The designer and original architect was a master mason named Arnolfo di Cambio, the builder of both the Palazzo Veccio and the city’s massive new fortifications.
There was one problem with the design: the dome. In a bold act of faith the city of Florence approved the construction of a building with a dome that nobody knew how to build. Florence’s authorities said that in an Act of God someday, somebody would come along before the city and build the cathedral with its impressive dome. The someday was 140 years later and the somebody was a controversial capomaestri, goldsmith and clockmaker named Filippo Brunelleschi.
The dome of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, octagonal in shape; had a base of 46 meters in diameter and 114.5 meters high. Its weight is estimated to be 37,000 tons and 4 million bricks were used in its construction. No masonry dome larger than Filippo’s great cupula has ever been built. The construction of the dome began in the summer of 1420, and finished in 1436, with the exception of the lantern.
The building of the dome was awarded to both Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi, but Filippo immediately refused. He was very reluctant to allow help, due to his lack of trust and fear of plagiarism. Filippo was well-known in Florence for his talents in mimicry, chicanery, theatricality and the creation of illusions. A very controversial and difficult man to work with, but with the mind of a genius. In the end, Felippo Brunelleschi’s hot temper prevailed and early on he took over the reigns of the project.
On March 25, 1436, Pope Eugenius IV consecrated the Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
“Lately the blossoms of roses, a gift from the Pope,
Despite the cruel cold of winter.
Adorned the great edifice of the cathedral.
Dedicated in perpetuity to the Virgin of Heaven, holy and sanctified.”
On August 30, 1436, the cupula itself was consecrated—a full sixteen years and two weeks after construction had begun. The consecration was made by the Bishop of Fiesole.
“What man, however hard of heart or jealous, would not praise Filippo the architect when he sees here such an enormous construction towering above the heavens, vast enough to cover the entire Tuscan population with its shadow, and done without the aid of beams or elaborate wooden supports.”—Leon Batista Alberti
The first stone of the dome’s lantern was consecrated by Saint Antoninus, the New Archbishop of Florence in March 1446. Filippo barely lived long enough to see the ceremony, for he died a month a month later on April 15, 1446, after what appears to have been a short illness. He was 69. Filippo had dedicated almost one-quarter of his life to the construction of the dome, and in the process, together with Lorenzo Ghiberti, brought forth the most innovative era, Italy and the western civilization, has ever seen since the fall of ancient Greece and Rome.
Fillipo’s work at Santa Maria del Fiore set architects on a different path and gave them a new social and intellectual esteem. Largely through his looming reputation, the profession was transformed during the Renaissance from a mechanical into a liberal art, from an art, that was viewed as ‘common and low’ to one that could be regarded as a noble occupation at the heart of the cultural endeavor. Unlike the builders of the Middle Ages, Filippo was far from anonymous, and his feat in raising the dome without a wooden centering was celebrated far and wide. Latin poems were composed in his honor, books were dedicated to him, biographies written, busts carved and portraits painted. He became the subject of myth.
Above all else, Filippo was praised from his ‘ingegno’, or ‘genius’, a term invented by the Italian humanist philosophers to describe a natural ability for invention. Before Filippo’s time, the faculty of genius was never attributed to architects (or to sculptures and painters either, for that matter).
For Vasari, the capomaestri had been a genius sent from heaven to renew the moribund art of architecture, almost paralleling how Christ had come to earth to redeem mankind. Yet Filippo was neither a god nor angel, but only a man, and his unquestionably brilliance, the writers of the Renaissance found their proof that modern man was as great as—and could in fact surpass—the ancients from whom they took their inspiration.”-–Ross King – Brunelleschi’s Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence
I finished reading this informative book about Brunelleschi and his involvement in the Italian Renaissance this morning. For fifteen days, I read in fascination, about one of the most brilliant eras of Western civilization. If architecture, history, art, and human achievement is your cup of tea, I fully recommend this book. It is available in the Kindle version and can be had for $9.99. Good Day.
Surfing the Web, I recently found out about the origin of the word plumber which I think is very interesting and in hindsight, makes a lot of sense. Plumbers (whose name comes from Latin “plumbum“, ‘lead‘) were employed at most cathedrals in the Middle Ages in order to rust proof iron or make lead tiles for steeples. In Spanish, lead is called “plomo” very similar to the Latin word “plumbum“. Thus “plumbers” are called “plomeros” in the language of Cervantes.
It has been known at least since the times of the ancient Romans, when architect Marcus Cetius Faventinus observed the “deformity” and “dreadful anemic pallor” of plumbers, that lead was a poisonous metal. Regardless of this danger, plumbers continued to use lead for many years.
And now you know the story behind the profession of our indispensable plumbers. What would we do without them, specially when our kitchen sinks or our toilets get obstructed? Good Day.
Posted in Photography, tagged Architecture, Buildings, Capoaestri, Casco Viejo, Cathedrals, Domes, Italian Renaissance, Neri di Fioravante, Panama, Photograph, Photography, Santa Maria del Fiore, Tourism on May 17, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Incidently I’m presently enjoying a book—Brunelleschi’s Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence, authored by Ross King—about the construction of a cavernous dome in Florence for the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore built by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1436. A replacement for the ancient and dilapidated church of Santa Reparata, the new cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was intended to be one of the largest in Christendom.
The foundation stone for the new cathedral had been laid in 1296. The designer and original architect was a master mason named Arnolfo di Cambio, the builder of both the Palazzo Vecchio and the city’s massive new fortifications. The designer of the large dome was the Capomaestri Neri di Fioravanti who refused to use flying buttresses to support the walls of the cathedral for political reasons. He hated French and German architects who commonly used these supporting structures.
The decision to adopt Neri di Fioravanti’s design represents a remarkable leap of faith. No dome approaching this span had been built since Antiquity, and with a mean diameter of 143 feet and 6 inches, it would exceed that of even the Roman Pantheon, which for over a thousand years had been the world’s largest dome by far. And the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore would not only be the widest vault ever built: it would also be the highest.
Of course our building pales in comparison with the great cathedral of Florence, but still it is an aesthetic edifice built during the early days of our nation. It represents the elegance of our colonial Spanish architecture as depicted in the picture above. Good Day.
Posted in Miscellaneous, Photography, tagged Architecture, Casco Viejo, Filippo Brunelleschi, Florence, Medici, Old Shell, Panama, Panama City, Perspective, Photograph, Photography, Renaissance on May 1, 2013 | 7 Comments »
In this picture, you can appreciate an example of perspective, so important in photography and architecture. The lines of the walkway are wide on the foreground and seem to intersect on the background. The same goes for the diminutive cracks on the concrete floor of the walkway.
The man who is attributed to having invented perspective is Filippo Brunelleschi. Few men have left a legacy as monumental as Filippo Brunelleschi. He was the first modern engineer and a problem-solver with unorthodox methods. He solved one of the greatest architectural puzzles and invented his way to success. Only now is he receiving deserved recognition as the greatest architect and engineer of the Renaissance.
Using a novel technique, involving reflective material and pinholes, Brunelleschi produced an exact isometric simulation of a nearby baptistery. By thinking outside of the box, Brunelleschi had reproduced a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. He had invented perspective.
Oh, one more thing…the woman alone in the walkway is my wife, Aura. Good Day.
Suggested Reading: Medici: The Godfathers of the Renaissance—PBS.org
After a long winter of 21 years under a military regime that almost destroyed our democratic system, we are currently blooming under a new and modern representative democracy. Since the toppling of General Noriega in 1989, we have had three free elections, all supervised and organized by the Panama Tribunal Electoral. All three events were true examples of democracy in action.
We are getting ready for our next national elections to be held on May 4, 2014. The Tribunal Electoral is also planning to move to a new building before the political event takes place. I was recently at the construction site and took a few shots of this large and elegant building. It was designed to blend perfectly with the American built edifices in the late Panama Canal Zone.
The official creation of el Tribunal Electoral is October 24, 1956, even though it has been involved in political elections since January 5, 1904 with the birth of the republic. El Tribunal Electoral has three magistrates (all lawyers) which will serve for a term of ten years. We depend of this significant institution to guarantee fair and free democratic elections every five years.
Our current three magistrates appointed for a period of ten years are:
- Erasmo Pinilla Castillero
- Eduardo Valdés Escoffery
- Heriberto Arazúz Sánchez
As you can see in the pictures below, the building is still under construction. It is scheduled to be ready before May 2014, just in time for our next national elections.
As you can see, the residence is being painted and renovated. These houses were built by the Panama Canal Comission to house their employees. They had very thick wall, red tiles on the roof, and high ceiling to improve ventilation.
These solid constructions were replicated in Panama City in the neighborhood of Bellavista. As a result of escalating real estate prices, many of these regal houses were torn down and replaced with boring match-boxed styled towers. Fortunately this is not the case in the former Canal Zone. These houses are constantly renovated and very well preserved. Good Day.