Villa Features

Villa features

Detail of Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Architect: Colen Campbell (1722)
Copyright: RIBA Library Drawings Collection

What makes a villa? Palladio set out his own ideas on villa design in I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura. These have influenced generations of architects around the world over the last five centuries. Key features include:

  • a rural location, situated not far from a town or city
  • a symmetrical plan, with room dimensions using simple ratios following Renaissance ideals of harmony and proportion
  • a relatively plain façade with horizontal emphasis, usually including a rusticated basement, and a clearly defined piano nobile or principal storey
  • a temple-like front to the building, using a portico as the main entrance point
  • classical ornament, for example the use of the Orders and particular window types, including Venetian windows and thermal windows.

Discover the core features of villa design through the RIBA Library Drawings Collection and see how Palladio's examples have been interpreted by Palladian and Neo-Palladian architects in Britain.

The following pages display pairs of images which show both an Italian model by Palladio and a British interpretation.