Palladian principles

Palladian principles

Table and diagram illustrating the proportions of a Palladian-style window surround (1724)

Copyright: RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Palladio intended his buildings to be proportionate, comfortable and useful. To this end he devised detailed principles of construction based on his study of Ancient Roman architecture, which he set out in I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura.

Palladio’s principles worked together to produce the elegant and balanced architecture for which he became renowned.

For many British Palladian and Neo-Palladian architects an appreciation of Palladio came from translations of his writings and from drawings of his buildings by Inigo Jones, Lord Burlington and others.

This section looks at the principles underlying Palladio’s architecture and shows how they were imitated and adapted by Palladian and Neo-Palladian architects in 17th- and 18th-century Britain:

• find out about Palladio’s ideas on proportion and symmetry and how these were used in 18th-century Britain
• see how Palladio’s use of light was adapted by Neo-Palladian architects in response to the British climate
• discover the Neo-Palladian’s quest for authenticity in the use of materials
• see how new materials were used for decorative effect
• explore the use of colour in Neo-Palladian interiors