Development of the Renaissance Centralized Church Plan

1815 words 8 pages
Topic: Analyze the development of the centralized church plan in Renaissance architecture (15th and 16th centuries). In your examples, include an analysis of meaning and symbolism.

During the Renaissance period, new centralized church plans developed as a result of a more scientific approach to nature. The idea of precise proportions and measurement emerged through Vitruvius’ theory regarding human anatomy. Vitruvius described how human body, with extended arms and legs, fits perfectly into the most basic geometrical shapes: circle and square. This concept triggered the minds of artists during the Renaissance to take on a new approach for church plans (Honour and Fleming 444-445). However, it is not until the fifteenth
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Buildings dedicated to the omnipotent God should be strong and everlasting…” (Wittkower 31)
This idea of rising above is coherent to Leonardo Da Vinci’s principle, which he adhered to in all his designs (Wittkower 26). S. Sebastiano exemplifies the meticulous image of Renaissance beauty, and developing architectural style beyond the Roman gothic style (Smith).

Another example of a building resembling absolute proportion is St. Maria Della Carceri, designed by architect Giuliano Da Sangallo. After Alberti’s treatise on architecture was published in 1485, the centrally planned church became popular. Many architects during the Renaissance conformed to his law of harmony. Within the same year, the church of St. Maria Delle Carceri was the first Greek-Cross structure built. The entire interior and exterior description of Giuliano da Sangallo’s church complies with Alberti’s theoretical demands, demonstrating the impact Alberti made through his publication (Wittkower 31). The plan for St. Maria Delle Carceri is based on the two elementary figures of square and circle, where the depth of the arms is half their length and the four end walls of the cross are as long as they are high, therefore forming a perfect square (figure 2). The structure contains desirable symbolic feature by integrating a dome in the center. It appeals more to Christianity to represents closure towards heaven or God’s presence. The grand church is viewed as “…a majestic simplicity, the


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