Andrea Palladio: Innovative Learning Experience

The two most eminent scholars of the architecture of Andrea Palladio, Guido Beltramini and Howard Burns of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza, will offer workshops exploring Palladio’s drawings. Having completed the two intensive workshops in the fall and the spring, students will then travel to Italy in the summer of 2018, to Vicenza and the Veneto, and experience Palladio’s villas first hand. Students who complete the entire set of parts of this pedagogical experiment will receive four units of course credit.

This fall session, Faking Palladio, led by Guido Beltramini, requires students to produce a fake Palladio drawing. The creation of a fake requires in-depth knowledge of both the material qualities of the item to be copied and also the cultural background of the architect who originally produced it. Students will not be invited to produce an exact copy of an existing drawing but will be asked to invent a drawing that has never existed. This sort of exercise is made possible by the fact that Palladio developed an architecture that he conceived as a language, with reference made to standard elements (such as rooms, stairs, doors, and columns) and proportions governing the relations between the various components of a structure. Palladio's treatise, The Four Books on Architecture (Venice, 1570), is essentially a manual with instructions referring to his architecture. Among the Palladio drawings we find drawings for unbuilt buildings: many of them are plans without the corresponding elevations. To make a fake Palladio drawing, a good starting point is the Palladio original plan from which to imagine a possible development. The students will be asked first to design the elevation, or part of it. A further step is to try to make a fake, focusing on the materiality of the drawing as an object (paper, ink, stylus, etc.) and on the Palladio drawing conventions (and, almost as a counterfactual conditional, on our representational conventions today).

The spring session will be led by Howard Burns. This course lasting five days is divided into lectures, workshops, and seminars on the buildings to be featured in the summer trip, with the aid of dossiers that illustrate the Palladian project drawings, plans, sections of buildings, and models. Lectures deal with general themes of Palladio’s work, the material conditions of the buildings’ sites, as well as the designs’ influence. In the workshops, participants are involved in a hands-on approach to various modes of enquiry. For example: How do you read a building starting from its masonry? What can the direct examination of a Palladian autograph drawing tell us? Students will be required to read approximately 10 articles in preparation for the spring course.

Enrollment in this course was pre-selected in fall 2017. Only students who participated in the fall workshop can enroll in this course.  These students should select the course in the limited enrollment course lottery.

While the course spans fall and spring terms, as well as a summer travel component, the course will officially be graded and students will receive credit for the course in spring 2018.