The project

This website has been developed as part of the final examination for the Computational Graphic course. I developed a 3D Model - which you can observe in the Gallery section - based on the project designed by Andrea Palladio.
The final building somehow differs from what Palladio had designed, so I referred to the pictures of the villa as well, in order to make it as similar as I could to the real thing. To model the villa, I decided to decompose it in smaller parts, such as the basement, the exterior walls, the interior parts and the roof. I tried to take advantage of the symmetry of the building itself but had to find a compromise between elegant practical code and performance issues, so only the basement has been realised exploiting the symmetries with respect to the x and y axis.
Feel free to move to the next sections to learn more about this wonderful villa.

Two names one beauty

Villa La Rotonda is a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza, northern Italy, designed by Andrea Palladio. The proper name is Villa Almerico Capra. The name "Capra" derives from the Capra brothers, who completed the building after it was ceded to them in 1591. Like the readers who have visited might have understood by now, the name La Rotonda refers to its central circular hall with its dome.

Design

The site selected was a hilltop just outside the city of Vicenza. Unlike some other Palladian villas, the building was not designed from the start to accommodate a working farm. This sophisticated building was designed for a site which was, in modern terminology, "suburban". Palladio classed the building as a "palazzo" rather than a villa.

The design is for a completely symmetrical building having a square plan with four facades, each of which has a projecting portico. The whole is contained within an imaginary circle which touches each corner of the building and centres of the porticos. Each portico has steps leading up, and opens via a small cabinet or corridor to the circular domed central hall. This and all other rooms were proportioned with mathematical precision according to Palladio's own rules of architecture which he published in the Quattro Libri dell'Architettura.

The design reflected the humanist values of Renaissance architecture. In order for each room to have some sun, the design was rotated 45 degrees from each cardinal point of the compass. Each of the four porticos has pediments graced by statues of classical deities. The pediments were each supported by six Ionic columns. Each portico was flanked by a single window. All principal rooms were on the second floor or piano nobile.

Changes and continuities

Building began in 1567. Palladio, and the owner, Paolo Almerico, a priest who commitioned it in 1565, were not to see the completion of the villa. Palladio died in 1580 and a second architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi, was employed by the new owners, the Capra brothers, to oversee the completion.

One of the major changes he made to the original plan was to modify the two-storey centre hall. Palladio had intended it to be covered by a high semi-circular dome but Scamozzi designed a lower dome with an oculus (intended to be open to the sky) inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
The dome was ultimately completed with a cupola.

Inside

The interior design of the Villa was to be as wonderful, if not more so, than the exterior. Alessandro and Giovanni Battista Maganza and Anselmo Canera were commissioned to paint frescoes in the principal salons. Among the four principal salons on the piano nobile are the West Salon (also called the Holy Room, because of the religious nature of its frescoes and ceiling), and the East Salon, which contains an allegorical life story of the first owner Paolo Almerico, his many admirable qualities portrayed in fresco. The highlight of the interior is the central, circular hall, surrounded by a balcony and covered by the domed ceiling; it soars the full height of the main house up to the cupola, with walls decorated in trompe l'oeil. Abundant frescoes create an atmosphere that is more reminiscent of a cathedral than the principal salon of a country house.

The art of the harmony

The Villa was designed to be in perfect harmony with the landscape. Thus, while the house appears to be completely symmetrical, it actually has certain deviations, designed to allow each facade to complement the surrounding landscape and topography. Hence there are variations in the facades, in the width of steps, retaining walls, etc. In this way, the symmetry of the architecture allows for the asymmetry of the landscape, and creates a seemingly symmetrical whole. The landscape is a panoramic vision of trees and meadows and woods, with the distant Vicenza on the horizon.

Like other works by Palladio in Vicenza and the surrounding area, the building is conserved as part of the World Heritage Site "City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto".