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The Renaissance in Italy: Villa Gamberaia


The Renaissance in Italy: Villa Gamberaia. Villa Gamberaia, Settignano (1610) ... The Renaissance in Italy: Villa Gamberaia. The Villa in Time and Space ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Renaissance in Italy: Villa Gamberaia

The Renaissance in Italy Villa Gamberaia
  • Electronic Tutorials were created by Jack
    Sullivan, Assistant Professor, for the History of
    Landscape Architecture (LARC 263), a survey
    course in the Department of Natural Resource
    Sciences and Landscape Architecture, College of
    Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of
  • This presentation was made possible with
    Instructional Improvement Grants in 1995 and 1996
    from the Center for Teaching Excellence. The
    following knowledgeable, patient and generous
    team of players were invaluable to the making of
    these digital compilations. Thank you all for the
    hard work and technical lessons.
  • Tamela D. Michaels, Graduate Student, Technical
    Support, Colleague
  • Fernando Urrea, Technical Support
  • David Jones, Technical Support
  • The images used in these tutorials are from
    personal collections and from the collections of
    the School of Architecture at the University of
    Maryland. The numbers on each image correspond
    with those in the database housed at the
    Architecture Slide Library.

Villa Gamberaia, Settignano (1610)
  • The Villa Gamberaia is located on the outskirts
    of the hillside town of Settignano, about five
    kilometers from Fiesole, the setting for some of
    the earliest villas of the Italian Renaissance.
    The villa is located in a region of working
    farms, mostly olive orchards in this particular
    setting. The winding road through the town and up
    to the villa is the beginning segment of a
    spatial sequence that characterizes this unique
    late style. As it approaches the Villa Gamberaia,
    the narrow road opens up to the right just before
    the tunnel straight-ahead.

Plan of Gamberaia
  • The plan of the Villa Gamberaia is logically and
    clearly ordered. Within its simple structure is a
    diverse collection of garden spaces of both
    architectural and horticultural merit. The garden
    is essentially laid out on two flat planes,
    terraced on the side of a hill, supported by tall
    retaining walls and overlooking the Tuscan
    landscape of farms, orchards and hilltowns. The
    long allée runs north-south and is the datum by
    which the upper and lower terraces, the house and
    service quarters and the formal parterre garden
    are connected. An annotated plan drawing can be
    found at the end of the tutorial.

Drawing by Eileen Kemp
  • The gated entrance drive is a narrow shaft of
    space that leads directly to the villa residence.
    The arrival court is a modest space that directs
    the view toward the interior gardens and to the
    buildings rather than to the distant view to
    Fiesole and Florence. The experience at this
    point is one of controlled movement and enclosed

  • Passing through the double archway at the
    entrance court and confronted with a 12 foot high
    wall about 25 feet ahead, the visitor turns to
    the right and is treated to an enchanting vista
    of the garden and the spectacular view beyond.
    The long allée, at one time in the gardens
    history more enclosed along the parterre garden
    edge, has an open terminus framed by the topiary
    cypress exedra and the Stone Pine opposite the
    end of the high wall.

Focal Interest
  • Another double archway projects from the
    southwest corner of the house, extending the line
    of the facade along the allée and into the
    parterre garden on the south side. This line was
    once picked up by a series of potted plants,
    probably brought down from the orangerie and
    placed on pedestal platforms.
  • The north end of the cypress allée terminates in
    a stone niche in a fully enclosed space. The road
    tunnel that we saw just after the entrance drive
    runs perpendicular to this allée directly below.
    To the right is a shade garden to the left is
    the gate to the olive orchards across the road
    from the villa garden.

Walls as Frames
  • The double archway extends the line of the
    building façade and frames the views on either
    side of it. The wall that encloses the allée is a
    retaining wall at the north end, holding back the
    earth that supports the orangerie garden above.
    Here at the south end it is freestanding with a
    small opening and a hint of the more rustic
    landscape within. The stucco-surfaced wall,
    topped with sculptural urns, has the faded
    evidence of painted images of pilasters and
    niches that brought visual relief from the mass
    and weight of such a formidable structure.

Il Giardino Segreto
  • Inside the freestanding wall is the surprisingly
    intimate landscape of a rustic garden referred to
    as the giardino segreto -- the secret garden.
    The setting, as a transitional ground between the
    formal parterre garden and the olive groves on
    the rolling hillsides of Settignano, harbors a
    protected atmosphere where notions of both refuge
    and prospect, basic instinctual human needs, come

The Grotto
  • The Grotto Garden is ingeniously sited between
    the upper orangerie garden and the lower
    naturalized rustic garden to the south. The rock
    walls and multiple levels surround a quiet space
    set aside for meditation and reflection, very
    much like a small chapel for moments of prayer

The Orangerie
  • The orangerie is a structure that housed fruiting
    citrus trees in terra-cotta pots during the
    winter months when frost was likely to damage the
    plants. The orangerie garden at the Villa
    Gamberaia is located on an upper terrace,
    accessible from the Grotto Garden stairways and
    from the winding country road that tunnels under
    the allée and up the hillside against which the
    villa rests. The small potted trees are displayed
    in the orangerie garden. Workmen cart them to the
    lower parterre garden and placed them in line
    with the double arch..

The Terrace
  • On the formal lawn terrace directly in front of
    the house and facing toward the west, the
    sculptural balustrade frames the views to the
    town of Settignano and the more cosmopolitan city
    of Florence far beyond. The tall hedges that
    enclose the parterre garden begin at the southern
    limit of this terrace and completely close off
    the garden to (and from) the views. The result is
    a secluded and serene inwardly focused paradise,
    expressively and uniquely inscribed with
    reflecting pools and low box hedges and topiary.

The Exedra
  • The beautifully sculpted cypress and boxwood
    hedges outline each of the four pools in this
    quadripartite garden design. The far southern end
    of the garden is closed off with a cypress hedge,
    clipped to resemble an architectural wall of
    arched openings in a semi-circular form. The
    Stone Pine at the exedra is a modern accident
    that artfully brings a balance to the otherwise
    rigidly formal layout.

The Amphitheater at the Exedra
  • The exedra holds an amphitheater-like arrangement
    of stepped hedges surrounding the semi-circular
    pool. References to garden motifs used throughout
    classical antiquity include the Canopus at
    Hadrians Villa and the recollection of the
    luxuriant terrace gardens at the Generalife in
    Granada. These precedents firmly root this garden
    in the traditions of the past yet advance the
    concepts of spatial design and establish a
    prominent place for itself in Renaissance history

The Villa in Time and Space
  • This garden relies not only on its rational
    structure and the beauty of its crafted objects
    for its charm. Its appeal is also in the rich
    variety of spaces and the intimate connections
    between the garden, the surrounding hillsides and
    the active participant.

Plan and Key
  • Villa Gamberaia, Settignano (1610)
  • 1. Country road from Settignano
  • 2. Entrance drive
  • 3. Tunnel under the allée
  • 4. The Cypress Allée
  • 5. The Orangerie
  • 6. The Grotto Garden
  • 7. The Lawn Allée
  • 8. The Parterre Garden
  • 9. The Exedra

Drawing by Eileen Kemp
  • Jellicoe, Geoffrey and Susan. The Landscape of
    Man Shaping the Environment from Prehistory to
    the Present Day. The Viking Press New York,
  • Newton, Norman T. Design on the Land The
    Development of Landscape Architecture. Harvard
    University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts,
  • Moore, Charles W., William J. Mitchell, and
    William Turnbull, Jr. The Poetics of Gardens. The
    MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988.