DELUSION IN MASS PERCEPTION

Michelozzo Bartolomeo was commissioned by the patriarch of Medici family to begin the construction of the Palazzo Medici in 1444 in Florence. While Michelozzo was designing the palace which is the first Renaissance building erected in Florence, he adhered to the traditional Florentine domestic building style to avoid any kind of conflict that might take place between the neighbours (Moffett, Fazio, & Wodehouse, 2003). The palace was the first private building with a garden in the middle in Florence. The palace is set on a shape very similar to a square plan. Because each room opens to the central courtyard, the courtyard acts as a circulation core which also prevents the need of corridors on the ground level. Throughout the day, because of the upper level galleries, shadows were helping the courtyard to remain in a cooler temperature. One other characteristic about the courtyard is that it was creating a central axis by connecting the Via Larga, the courtyard itself, then the garden behind, and the Via Gori visually. The main façade was facing the Via Larga and it had ten bays on the ground level. On the same level, there were three arched portals which later was transformed into kneeling windows. Mullioned two-light windows set within round arches were also used on the first and second floors as architectural openings. On the corner between the Via Larga and the Via de Gori, there was an open loggia and the loggia was also walled with two kneeling windows. There was a small doorway to enter the loggia from the street. On the southern side of Via de’ Gori the façade had nine bays. The access to the courtyard from the street is provided by two asymmetrical placed doors and, façades were aligned with the street perfectly, while also it was integrating with the urban fabric. Rusticated stone blocks were the common material and the used material was smoothing gradually from the ground floor to the top storey and the top was crowned by a monumental protruding cornice with classical motifs. Because of the textural difference created through the facades, the building seemed lighter when the building is analysed lengthwise from the ground level to the top level. There was a small bell gable on towards the north of the roof which was corresponding to the area of the chapel on the first floor.  Towards the south of the roof, there was a small tower crowned with a lantern where the main internal staircase was ended. Riccardi later built a spiral staircase. The Palazzo of Medici is a three storeyed building and each storey is divided with a continuous stringcourse.

Throughout the years, the palace went under several constructions. The public loggia placed in between Via Larga and Via de’Gori was walled and transformed into a closed loggia. Later in 18th century, the palace was bought by Riccardi family who made small changes such as doubling the length of the façade and renaming the palace as Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Despite the Riccardi’s extension, the facade preserves a continuous and unified appearance in terms of materials and style (Mediateca di Palazzo Medici Riccardi, n.d.). Relating to the geometrical and structural analyses done in the previous paragraphs, suitable concept for The Palazzo Medici is delusion in mass perception. The height of the palazzo is 24.50 metres which is a quite long elevation for a three storeyed building and because there is no projection on the elevations, the building looks like a mass. From the outer side of the building, one won’t be able to predict that the palazzo has a courtyard at the middle. Anyone who hasn’t seen the plan of the Palazzo Medici will think that the three storied building contains only rooms divided with the help of the walls and the corridors and each storey is connected with a staircase. However, if we look closely to the plan and visit the inner side of the palace, we can clearly say that there is a void in the middle of the building which we call a courtyard.  So, even the building looks like a cube, one part has been extracted from the middle; and it is impossible to declare that subtraction without experimenting the inner space.

One other example can be given to this concept from Rome: the Theater of Marcellus. The reason behind relating the concept of the Palazzo of Medici with the Theater of Marcellus is because from the outer side of the theater, again one will found the height of the construction very long and will think that the Theater of Marcellus is a semi- cylindrical mass, unless he enters in the structure and sees the seating, it won’t remind him that this building is a theater. He will think that it is a regular structure, a cylindrical mass. Briefly, the construction of this theater begun in the region of Julius Caesar and wasn’t finished until the region of Augustus in 1st century BCE, and it was dedicated to the memory of Marcellus, the son of Augustus. It is the largest and the most important theater in Rome, because the structural layout and the used architectural elements became an inspiration for some architects. The semi-circle seating area was able to hold approximately 12,000 spectators, so it is a quite big half open area. The façade of the cavea had three levels which the ground level and the first level was arcaded with external pilasters and the second level had closed wall modified with Corinthian pilasters. Because the third level had closed walls, even the first two levels are open, the decline in visual experiment empowers the sense of seeing the structure as a mass. The façade of the backstage had three levels of arcades placed on top of each other and because we weren’t able to see the inner part of the structure through the arches, the sense of massiveness was becoming even stronger. From the details given, again because there is no outgrowth structural and architectural elements, the surrounding wall acts as a barrier of a cylinder bar. Relating to the analyses done from the surrounding area, the Theater of Marcellus is a D shaped structure. Thus, it isn’t a surprise for use to perceive the theater as a mass. However, if one doesn’t know the actual function of the building, once he enters to the theater, he will realise that he has been mistaken about the form of the Theater of Marcellus.

Given concept is not only for the history of architecture, but exemplifying a structure to this concept from contemporary architecture is also possible. Andalucia’s Museum of Memory by Alberto Campo Baeza Architects is suitable to delusion in mass perception. The client was Caja de Granada and the project of museum started in 2009, in Spain, Granada. Analysing the plans will give enough information about the situation, but as claimed by the architects, the structure is arranged according to the oval shaped central courtyard. There are circular ramps placed in the elliptical formed courtyard. The ramps are organised to connect three levels with each other (The MA: Andalucia’s Museum of Memory, 2010). So, because this museum is merge of two planar mass, if one analyses the structure from the outer side of it, he won’t be able to predict the courtyard located in the middle, because there is no given clue to that special quality.  The structure looks like two blocks which are totally full with lots of rooms inside it. The facades of vertical mass is very high and even horizontal block’s façade doesn’t have a very long height, because there are no openings on the wall, that block also gives the sense of being a mass. Thus, the courtyard becomes a surprise for the ones who are going to experiment the museum.

REFERENCES

Facade of Palazzo Medici. (n.d.). Mediateca di Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Retrieved from http://www.palazzo-medici.it/mediateca/en/Scheda_Facciata_di_Palazzo_Medici

Moffett M. ,Fazio M. ,Wodehouse L. (2003). A World History of Architecture. Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Medici Riccardi Palace.  (n.d.). The Museum of Florence. Retrieved from http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/medici_riccardi_palace.html

The architecture of Palazzo Medici.  (n.d.). Mediateca di Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Retrieved from http://www.palazzo-medici.it/mediateca/en/schede.php?nome=L_architettura_di_Palazzo_Medici

Theatrum Marcelli.  (1929). A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Retrieved from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Lazio/Roma/Rome/_Texts/PLATOP*/Theatrum_Marcelli.html

Kleiner F. (2009). Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Cengage Learning, 443-444.

Theatre of Marcellus.  (2013). Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.ancient.eu/article/614/

The MA: Andalucia’s Museum of Memory / Alberto Campo Baeza.  (2010). Arch Daily. Retrieved from http://www.archdaily.com/53701/the-ma-andalucias-museum-of-memory-alberto-campo-baeza

 

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