An English Translation of the “Aggionta del Palladio”
PROPOSED INSERT IN BOOK I OF THE QUATTRO LIBRI (C. 1570). FROM LIONELLO PUPPI, ED., ANDREA PALLADIO: SCRITTI SULL’ARCHITETTURA (1554–1579) (VICENZA, 1988).
Having spoken in great detail, throughout this first book, of the orders of architecture and of the components of each of them in particular, it would be well to add another procedure that is used both for new work and for that which is to be added to existing work. For, with a given height either in a house already built that one wants to remodel, or in a house to be built new, it is necessary to know the rule to be followed in making the heights of the stories, and then the bases, capitals, and column heights; and what height the architraves, friezes, and cornices will have to be, so that from this rule anyone can then work out the extent of the architecture for himself according to his necessities and desires. . . . Here one has to take two considerations into account, [one for] the facades [and the other for] the ornamentation which is to be put to hand upon them. Speaking first of the facades, if they are to be made new, and if there are two stories, the lower will have to be one-fifth higher than the upper, and if there are three stories the top one should be one-sixth less than the middle one. With this proportion, experience shows, one gets a symmetry of great satisfaction to the eye, not different from that [one sees in] reeds which, the higher they grow, the shorter their blossoms are, seeing that taller things show greater weakness, and therefore [the blossoms] must be more densely grouped. If one has to remodel an old building, and these proportions do not exist in the story heights, the remodeled facade components can be improved by using proportions that give the effect of new work rather than of old work remodeled. The area from the base to the top of the lower story is divided into eleven modules, and the thickness of the column will be one module, the architrave, frieze, and cornice two, the column with base and capital nine, and this order should be Ionic. The second story must be divided into twelve modules, with the thickness of the column one, the architrave, frieze, and cornice two, and the base, shaft, and capital ten, which latter should be Corinthian. The third-story order should be Composite, and be divided into twelve modules with the subdivisions as in the Corinthian order, and with the proviso that, in all three orders, in order to raise the bases of the columns, the architect may at his discretion insert a pedestal, in which case the column bases must not have pedestals of their own. Thus are the orders more enjoyable. And this is enough for him who would understand the necessary art of the facade.
Now we come to the ornaments of the chambers and halls. Immediately under the ceiling beams I usually put the architrave, so that the beam [along the wall] can serve as a frieze, which is reasonable; and this architrave should be three-quarters of a module high, dividing the wall, from the level of the [storage] chests [lining the walls] up to the level just under the beams, into ten modules: but since current taste is not content with reasonableness in art, but wants to surpass normal good practice, many people want a cornice, frieze, and architrave under the ceiling; so, to give a rule also for this, so that one makes it as much in accordance with art as possible, the entire space of the wall of the room or chamber, from the chests or benches or scagni up to the beams, is divided into three parts, and one of these parts should be the height of the architrave, frieze, and cornice, with five for the column and its members; and the height of the chests can serve as a basement or if you like pedestal, according as it seems right to him who does the work.