FORMS, SPACE & SHAPES
PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI, FLORENCE, ITALY.
GENERAL CHARACTERSITICS, APPERANCES, FORMS, SHAPES AND SPACES OF THE
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th
centuries which demonstrate a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient
Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture
followed Gothic architecture and was succeeded by Baroque architecture.
(i) Emphasizes on symmetry, proportion, geometry and regularity of forms.
(ii) Implementations of classical ordered elements ( ancient Roman architecture ).
(iii) Usage and implementations of columns, pilasters and lintels.
(iv) Repetitive usage of semicircular arches, hemispherical domes, niches and aedicules.
(v) Replacement and substitution of complex proportional systems and irregularity into
(i) FAÇADE ( before extension )
- Usage of tripartite elevation which surrounds the building
( height of structure per floor decreases as it goes higher )
- Densityof the façade of the buildingdecreases as it goes upwards to
avoid the face of the buildinggettingconstrained.
Ground Floor Façade : -
(a) Ground floordensityis denser as larger arches alternatingwith small
squared windows filled the façade. ( Florentine manner ).
(b) Windows are heavilybarred to portraycell like windows.
(c) Walls are fabricated usingrusticated bricks.
Floor Façade : -
(a) RepetitiveimplementationsofPair Light Windows which is enclosed
as a pairunder a single arch.
(b) Walls are implemented via less robust rusticated brick walls to
decrease densityin conjunction with the decreased height.
(c) Brick crust arch is fitted atop of the arch of the Pair Light Windows
which are centered by roundels.
1. Brick Crust Arch
4. Pair Light Windows
Floor Façade : -
(a) Façade are the least dense amongall three floors.
(b) Fabricated with Pair Light Windows fitted under an arch and roundel.
(c) Plain non textured walls to decrease densityin terms of ornaments
alongwith its decreased height.
As an overall, the façade implements the tripartite elevation bywhich
heights are decreased as it goes upwards.In order to avoid the façade
being visualized as too constrainingin terms of space, the densityofthe
walls in terms of texture and also ornamental structure are reduced
graduallyas it moves upwards.
Each floors are topped with cornices and the cornices for the ground
floorand first floorof the buildingforms sills of the windows for the first
and second floor of the building.
1. Elaborated cornice
2. Family Coat of Arms
3. Tabernacle Windows / Kneeling Windows ( Inginocchiata ) - addition
by Michelangelo after later extension
The elaborated cornice act as an entablature to support the weight of the
roof. It portrays the might and nobilityofthe owner and hence leadingto
it indirectlyportrayinga slight classicism motif. The familycoat of arms
further portrays the family’s reputation,wealth and nobilityat that
Partial Elevation Of the Frontal Façade ( South East Elevation )
Frontal Façade of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi ( South East Elevation )
Family Coat Of
Windows ( Pair
Light Windows )
Placement & Orientation of structure on Façade : -
The main entrance is emphasized bythe elaborated rusticated stonework
and is further emphasized in terms of placement through its orientation
being in the center of the building’s ground floorfaçade.
The tabernacle windows / kneeling windows are placed in a way whereby
they are both flankingthe main entrance on both the left and right side.
Kneeling WindowsCrowning Cornices
( Entablature )
Family Coat Of
Close Up Details of Shape and Forms of the Kneeling Windows : -
Kneelingwindows or also known as the tabernacle windows ( Inginocchiata )
added and design by Michelangelo,is called that way in the sense that it is
further supported bytwo aedicules ( brackets ).
Side Elevation ( South West Elevation ) indicating the kneeling windows
which fabricates the façade
Family Coat of Arms
(i) Coat of Arms of Medici
(ii) Coat of Arms of Riccardi
Both of the familycoats of arms signifies its modesty,nobilityand wealth
and also reputation.It also signifies the families’occupation as two wealth
Close up images of the Family Coat of Arms of Medici
Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms
Close up image of the placement of the Family Coat of Arms of Medici onto
the edge of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Close up images of the Family Coat of Arms of Riccardi
The roundels medallionswhich represents it bearingthe Medici symbols and
acts as an ornamental structure to fabricate the façade which is also use to
centralize the arches and the mullioned windows (Pair Light Windows ).
Crowning Cornices ( Entablature )
The mouldingcornices & entablaturesreflect classical motive design and
architectural style which is decorated with lilies which forms the Farnese
Architectural ornamental style.
Cornices ( Entablature )
Palazzo Medici Riccardi are those typical Renaissance palaces wherebyit is
orientated inwards to be away from busy and noisystreets,hence leadingto
the buildinghavingits own open courtyard / cortile or cloisters.The cloisters
are influenced and adapted from typical traditionalRoman Peristyles.
Central Courtyard /
Imperfect Square as
main shape and form
Nearly symmetrical balance
(i) Nearly symmetrical balance alignment
- In accordance with the style of architectural design in the Renaissance
architecture trend which emphasizes symmetry,proportion and
balance, this buildingset to obey the rules of that particulartrend.
(ii) Main stairs
- The main stairs are not really emphasized in the way that they are
design to seem to be enclosed in walls which flankone side of the
(iii) Main entrance & doorway
- It is situated in the middle of the façade which directs to a long tunnel
like entrance into the central axis of the court.
(iv) Internal central courtyard , cloister / cortile
- The main feature of the entire buildingwhich is greatly influenced by
Internal Central Courtyard( MonasticCloister / Cortile )
Replaced with conjoined columns instead of pilasters
The internal courtyard is inspired from Brunelleschi’s design forthe
FoundlingHospital’s façade. The elements and ornaments ofdesigns is
implemented and the entire façade is bent around to form a hollow
square – courtyard.It is contrastingto the highly robust and elaborated
exteriorin order to portraysimplicityand serenityof life.
First piano nobile
Open colonnade (Michelozzian &
Corinthian colonnade )
Usage of three main principles in design : -
Usage of ornaments such as
arches roundels and brick crust
arches shows strong enclosure
of the windows
The repetition ofwindows,roundels,arches and also arches to fabricate the
entire indoorfaçade of the central cortile.
Specifications and details of the Central Cortile up close
The internal height ofthe façade of the central cloister is identical to that of
the exteriorfaçade of the building.
Implementations in order to decrease the visual space constrain within the
internal cloister :
(i) Frieze is brought highlyelaborated and wider which comprises of
roundels which are placed belowthe centers of the pairlight
windows in order to make it seems closer together.
(ii) The pairlight windows are centered abovethe middle of the arch
and directly abovethe frieze’s roundels.
(iii) The spaces between the arches of the pairlight windows which
meet at the corners of the courtyard are smaller compared to the
spaces between the pairlight windows at a single face of the
façade of the courtyard.
All of the specifications and features ofthe central cortile are designed in a
way that it covers up the errors for all the 4 sides of the central courtyard at
the tighter angles of the central courtyard.
- The arrangement of the main buildingofthe entire Palazzo Medici
Riccardi is mainlycomposed bytwo cuboids whereby the main
buildingis flanked at the right side by another extension.
- The size difference between the main buildingand the extended
section is not that distinctivein terms of the back part.
- The alignment ofthe entire buildingis placed in a way that its slightly
1) The architecture of the Italian renaissance / Peter Murray
2) Italian architecture from Michaelangelo to Borromini / Andrew
3) Florence: the city and its architecture / Richard Goy
4) World architecture : the masterworks / Will Pryce