Andrea Palladio

(P1) Andrea Palladio – an Italian who lived 500 years ago – is one of the few architects whose style is recognised with an adjective in English. As a new exhibition opens in London, we explore the ENDURING popularity of “Palladianism”.

(P2) A world without Andrea Palladio’s legacy would be a “very depressing one”, says Charles Hind, chief CURATOR of collections at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

(P3) Hind has co-curated Palladian Design: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected, which runs in London until January.

(P4) Palladio reinterpreted the architecture of ancient Rome for his own time, says Hind. He believed his flexible design principles could be applied to any type of building. From the grandest to the most HUMBLE. From an IMPOSING seat of government, to a country cowshed.

(P5) “Palladio introduced the concept that Roman architecture could be adapted to benefit all social classes,” says Hind, “and that’s one reason why his influence has remained more POTENT than any other architect.”

(P6) Born in 1508 in Padua in northern Italy, Andrea Palladio spent most of his adult life in the nearby city of Vicenza.

(P7) He trained as a stone-MASON initially, but his life was transformed when he worked for the humanist poet and scholar, Gian Giorgio Trissino, from 1538 to 1539. He was taken to Rome – which gave him the chance to study ancient RUINS.

(P8) During the Renaissance period, says Hind, very little was known about DOMESTIC architecture from the Roman Empire – much of it was yet to be discovered.

(P9) Palladio looked instead at ruins of the larger public buildings which were on show, and used this classical inspiration in his designs.


(P10) Palladio became known for designing VILLAS and country houses for ARISTOCRATS in north-east Italy – with simplicity and SYMMETRY at the heart of each creation. His designs would have a central hall – with suites of rooms arranged around them.

(P11) He was also the first architect to integrate classical PORTICOS – covered COLUMNED PORCHES – into domestic housebuilding. Until then they had really only been used on religious buildings.

(P12) “Palladio reinvented the architecture of ANTIQUITY for contemporary use,” Hind says.

(P13) “He was enormously successful, extremely quickly.”

(P14) His first solo villa was built in 1540-1, but by 1545 there were documents showing demand from people wanting villas “alla Palladiana” – in the Palladian style.

(P15) More drawings survive from Palladio’s hand than all the other Italian Renaissance architects put together, thanks to two English collectors.

(P16) Inigo Jones and Lord Burlington transported them in two BATCHES at the start of the 17th and 18th Centuries.

(P17) And it is the presence of these drawings in England, argues Hind – plus Palladio’s book, The Four Books of Architecture – that were key to his long-term global influence.


(P18) It was Inigo Jones’s ADOPTION of Palladian PRINCIPLES that SPARKED a revolution in religious architecture. He designed St Paul’s in London’s Covent Garden, the first classical church in the UK. It was completed in 1633.

(P19) It RESEMBLES a Roman temple – with columns and a portico.


(P20) In the early 18th Century, when the second big collector of Palladio’s drawings – Richard Boyle the 3rd Earl of Burlington – designed Chiswick House in London, it is easy to see how his inspiration came from Palladio’s Villa Rotonda.

(P21) But in fact Chiswick House – which was built to store Lord Burlington’s collections rather than as somewhere to live – is more of a mix of styles, with Palladian symmetry, portico, and PEDIMENT, the most significant.

(P22) Palladian features soon became part of the standard REPERTOIRE of FASHIONABLE architecture of the time – now referred to as “Anglo-Palladianism”.

(P23) The theme spread west too. In the United States it was the main building style in the 40 years leading up to the American War of Independence.

(P24) Hundreds of architectural PATTERN BOOKS were published from the 1720s onwards.

(P25) Hind says many of them “stretched the definition of Palladianism – almost to the BREAKING POINT“. It meant people could MIX AND MATCH architectural ideas in the design of their own homes.

Mount Vernon

(P26) A country COTTAGE could have the same ELEMENTS as US President George Washington’s house at Mount Vernon in Virginia.

(P27) But, as ever with fashions, Palladian popularity in the UK and Ireland was not to last.

(P28) Victorians preferred more ELABORATE GOTHIC and classical Greek styles.

(P29) It took until the start of the 20th Century before there was a FULL-BLOWN RENAISSANCE of Andrea Palladio’s symmetrical concepts.

(P30) “Palladianism breathes permanence, DELIBERATION, and an OLYMPIAN calm,” says Hind. It suggests “we’re going to stay here”.

(P31) The Palladian revival continued through the 20th Century. In the UK it offered a way of keeping a sense of GRANDEUR, even when landowners were DOWNSIZING from a larger property.

(P32) Across the Atlantic, the USA has never really stopped using Palladianism as an architectural style.

(P33) “It gives people a sense of creating history,” says Hind.

Chadsworth Cottage

(P34) Palladio INCORPORATED elements of the Venetian local style into his architecture 500 years ago – and in the 21st Century, Chadsworth Cottage in North Carolina does the same.

(P35) Built on a coast PRONE to HURRICANES – where homes must be built on STILTS so that storm water can rush underneath – the stairs and wooden SLATS which hide the stilts supporting this house resemble the base of a temple or grand house.

WORDS: 884



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Describe the style of classic buildings in your country.
  3. What is your opinion of modern architecture?
  4. What was the last EXHIBIT you saw at a museum?
  5. Do you prefer living in a large house, a small house, or an apartment?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Breaking point
  • Mix and match
  • Full-blown

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