Rome was one of the prominent cities to show a distinct example of urban architecture. As according to Frechtling (2001), urban design had always been attached to the Romanesque tradition wherein the arrangements of their architectural designs usually form single composition (p. 2). The roman architecture had significantly been influenced by the vast traditional constructs of architecture through the Etruscan perspective, and combined with their use of arch, which showed relevance to their Greek adaptation of columns.
Added by Crouch (1993), the very process of urbanization in the Roman perspective entailed the arrangements of elements in order to attain maximum beauty and agreeable provisions (p. 10). Romans were the first to consider the utilization of construction techniques in order to further manipulate large interior spaces and monumental architecture. Much of these were evident in their building designs and those established monuments (Buden, 2000 p. 10). One of the historically recognized urban designs of the Roman period was Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio or the Capistoline Hill.
The plateau of Piazza del Campidoglio had been the centre of Roman political atmosphere throughout the Middle Ages. The transformation that Michelangelo rendered to the Campidoglio in offering to the Pope Paul III during 1538 has become the prominent highlight of renaissance architecture, more significantly in the rise of urban design application. As supported by Watkin, the design of Michelangelo’s Capitoline Hill had greatly impacted the designs of urban perspective.
The most significant characteristic in his Piazza del Campidoglio was the presence of spatial manipulation of voids and masses in his urban design. The concept of architectural design employed by Michelangelo had been the center of commotion with respect to the influence of his piazza design in the aspect of urban art. Furthermore, the features he had utilized in his piece had significantly triggered the argument on the type of design era symbolized by his concept.
Within the study, the main scope was to scrutinize and analyze the presence of urban design patterns in the architectural art of Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio. The study centered on the idea of urban designing in architecture in the highlights of historical trends developed from baroque, medieval and contemporary designs. Furthermore, the study developed an argument within the architectural concepts of Michelangelo to further illustrate how it influenced the styles, symbolism and trends of urban designing in architecture.
Discussion Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio In the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo in Rome in the sixteenth century, the grand flight of steps, which leads to the square, is in fact situated on the axis in considerable distance from the steps to the building, and its great width that provides it certain autonomy (Meiss 1990 p. 67). Michelangelo design his piazza in an orderly state with five entrances and three palaces.
In the section of Senator’s Palace constructed during the medieval era and located on the east side and Conservator’s Palace on the south side were formed in 80 degree angles, which created a trapezoid-shaped piazza. In addition, this constituted an even more inlaid pavement that highlighted an oval pattern embossed in the middle of the piazza. With this architectural design, critiques (Watkin, 2005; Meiss 1990) had very well linked this idea of Michelangelo in providing a sense of baroque style in his piazza architecture.
According to Crouch (1993), the Roman architectural design mainly depended in two primary urban patterns, specifically the regular rigid mostly associated with veteran’s colonies and the towns that developed from them, and the jostle of monumental buildings set close together and at angles to one another without a regular pattern of streets to set them off (p. 10). In addition, the concept of Piazza del Campidoglio comprised the initial ideas of Etienne Duperac, who greatly contributed to the first blueprint of the site. After which, it is Michelangelo who admonished the modification and transformation of these engravings.
The architectural design of Michelangelo comprised the square that should be composed of three distinct palaces and a balustrade wherein he would also place five roads or flights of steps that should lead to the square. The presence of oval feature in the piazza’s design somehow illustrated the idea of baroque implications, most significantly with the oval-ended pedestal designed by Michelangelo himself. Added by Braunfels and Northcott (1988), the oval in which the statue had been erected was also part of the motive in illustrating the Capitoline Hill.
Within the interiors of the Campidoglio, Michelangelo provided an intensively designed double-ramped staircase in front of the remodeled Senator’s Palace. He employed organization in the blueprint of the Capitoline Hill that does not close the aspect of tradition. According to Watkin (2005), Michelangelo very well adapted this from the designs of the facade of a palace under a theatrical design featured in civic ceremony. He also added that the flanking palaces on either side of the piazza had also created an evident impact in urban designing (p.
235). Considering the square character of Michelangelo’s piece, he very well emphasized the coherent spatial allowances and diversion of architecture in this Campidoglio. He incorporated steep topography and irregular shaped site with an intention of creating an illusion of spatial characteristics. Michelangelo altered the distinct features of the facades and alignments of the three surrounding buildings in order to transform the area from a derelict piece of land to an organized elemental fashion.
As supported by Trancik (1986), Michelangelo evidently took the advantage of the triangular site in order to further form elliptical paving pattern to establish a stable center of the piazza (p. 65). Originally, the design of the Campidoglio was only two buildings; however, in order to provide more control and distinction in the spatial character of the central piece, Michelangelo had admonished the construction of the third building.
In analyzing the placement and order of the building, the two buildings present at the sides of the oval shaped increment were two stories and slightly offset to 80 degrees. On the other hand, the Palazzo del Senatore or the Senate Palace that provided the most essential part in spatial enclosure had constituted three stories. The reconstruction of the Facades of the conservatoria had been reconstructed from 1563 to 1564, while the Senate Palace took from 1598 to 1612.
According to Rubenstein (1992), the main characteristic the Piazza was emphasized in the placement of the central, slightly-sunken, and paved star-shape symbol that surrounded the plaza and provided linkage to other surrounding areas (p. 8). This urban design placement had created an oval volume of space that further increased the spatial feature of the trapezoid enclosed by the three surrounding sites. The concept of design utilized by Michelangelo had significantly provided unity and coherence in the overall design.