Villa Rotonda and its influence

Villa Rotonda and its influence

Villa Rotonda, Vicenza, Italy

Andrea Palladio
Copyright: RIBA Library Photographs Collection

The Villa Rotonda has been a source of inspiration for architects around the world for centuries.

Its piano nobile, use of a square plan surmounted by a dome and the temple-like porticos on each side were perhaps the most influential of its features, and were imitated by other architects soon after its completion.

Palladio’s writings on villa construction in I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura meant that his ideas spread far beyond Italy.

Interpretations of the Villa Rotonda began to appear in Britain in the eighteenth century: Mereworth and Chiswick House were the first, built in the 1720s. Many others followed, and it was a fashion that only began to wane around the middle of the century with Foots Cray and Nuthall Temple.

The influence of the Villa Rotonda spread beyond Europe too. In the late eighteenth century Thomas Jefferson, the amateur architect and later President of the USA, was inspired to design his own house, Monticello, as a tribute to the Villa Rotonda.

Palladio’s villas have continued to influence architects. Henbury Hall, built in Cheshire, England, 1984-86, is a fine example of this.