The Architecture

Palazzo Civena, Vicenza

The springing arches belong to the facade of Palladio’s first townhouse introducing a new form to Vicenza, the colonnade. Palazzo Civena is the first example of this form used for a private house, until then they had only been used for religious buildings.

Palladio’s work is considered sceneographic, of having the same effect as a stage set. The form of the bench evolved from building around the panels to keep the balance of geometric harmony and symmetry until it could convey the character of the architecture and create the sense of a stage set making a play on shadows.

Calm, simplicity and harmony are achieved through carefully calculated patterns of light and dark. The sense of order and security evoked by the forms of classical architecture are, by elongating the façade, a more enigmatic quality emerges, like one of De Chirico’s atmospheric arcaded Italian squares.

The alternating arched and tympana pediments which sit above the windows are known as winking windows.

Palladio’s development of the classical portico became one of the most widely adopted and imitated motifs in Western architecture

The Architecture

Palazzo Civena Trissino in Vicenza was Palladio’s first townhouse designed when he was 32. In this formative period he was still developing his vocabulary drawn from ancient Rome and looking back to the principles of Vitruvius. It was not until 1541 that he first visited Rome and in this early Palazzo can be seen the beginnings of his later style. This early classical portico has now become an archetypal form but in its day it was considered radically modern.

The building was reconstructed after bombing in WW2 almost destroyed it. The neighbouring Theatre Eretenio however did not survive, its façade was originally built to match Palladio’s and once extended the row of porticoes even further.

Viale Eretenio12, Vicenza is now a nursing home.

Link to the Palazzo Civena at the Palladio Museum where this comment appears
“The building’s façade is devoid of any real plastic substance and seems cut from a sheet of paper”

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