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Neoclassical Architecture

Neoclassical Architecure: Chiswick House, Img © Sahita Bhalla

Neoclassical architecture was a movement that started in the 18th and early 19th centuries. As the name suggests, neoclassical, it means the revival of the classical architecture. The movement focused on the simplicity of classical architecture. It can be identified by the grandeur scale, simplicity of geometric forms, dramatic use of columns, and preference for blank walls.

The movement emerged in Europe in the mid-18th century. The movement flourished throughout Europe, the United States, and Latin America. The typology that was designed under the neoclassical architecture was temple-style, Palladian, and classical block.

The temple-style buildings were like the style of the ancient temples. The British Museum in London was inspired by the Greek architecture. Palladian buildings were inspired by the villas of the 16th-century Italian Renaissance. The Renaissance was inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Classical block style included buildings that were often rectangular or squarish in shape. These include flat roofs and exteriors which consisted of repeating columns or arches to make the building give a decorative appearance.

The English architects who were a part of this movement were William Kent, Robert Adam, John Nash, Sir John Soane, and Sir Robert Smirke. In England, the buildings designed under this style of architecture were a variety of public buildings which included banks, museums, and post offices. The aristocratic landowners also embraced the style and got their country mansions redesigned and the design included new porticos and columns.

In France, architects like Jacques Germain Soufflot, Claude Nicolas Ledoux, and Jean Chalgrin embraced the style. Although this style of architecture was started in Italy, the style of architecture was largely embraced by the French because the French architects were trained at the French Academy in Rome. In France, the style was first adopted during the Napoleonic Empire by the High society. The high society got their private homes designed in this style. Other elements like faux ruins, follies, grottos, and fountains to decorate the landscape were also designed. The experimental architects designed the civic structures in the style.

In America, William Thornton, Benjamin Latrobe, and Thomas Jefferson embraced the style of architecture.

The famous buildings designed under this style of architecture were The cupola Room in Kensington Palace, the Holkham Hall, Chiswick House, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the Great Saltworks, the Bank of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Capitol, and Monticello.

The Cupola Room in Kensington Palace, London was designed by William Kent. The design of the room was neo-antique style or neoclassicism. The room also consists of coffered ceilings, giant pilasters, and statues in niches. The room also consisted of a marble chimney.

Holkham Hall was built by Thomas Coke and was designed by William Kent. The exteriors of the building were inspired by the ancient architecture of Palladio. The inspiration can be seen in the plan as there are four outlying pavilions. The halls include a spectacular staircase and entrance hall which were inspired by the colonnaded basilicas of Rome. The ceilings were coved and coffered and were supported by the columns.

The Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains was active for at least 1200 years until the activity was stopped in 1962. The Saltworks shelter is an underground gallery from the 13th century. The Saltworks complex was designed by Claude Nicolas Ledoux. The design was semicircular in shape in order to reflect the hierarchy of work. The complete plan included the building of an ideal city forming a perfect circle. The entrance building sits at the midpoint of the semicircle and contains on one side guardrooms and on the other a prison and a forge. Other buildings on the semicircle include on the left as one faces the entrance, quarters for carpenters and laborers, and on the right, marshals and coopers. The entrance building is the midpoint of the semi-circular compound. The entrance consists of Doric portico and columns which are a key feature of the neoclassical architecture.

Monticello began in the year 1771 and the design was based on a French pavilion. The building was designed by Thomas Jefferson who remodelled the building in 1793. The design of the villa was such that consisted of an octagonal domed center and low wings on the front sides. The building was Jefferson’s public house and initially consisted of 2 storeys in 8 rooms.

The buildings that were built during this time primarily consisted of columns and a portico. They were a distinct feature of the neoclassical architecture. The buildings that were built during this period were either renovated or remodeled or the style was added to the building.




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