Andrea Palladio and Contemporary Architects: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher

Venezia - Villa Foscari La Malcontenta, Via della Stazione
September 12th - November 23rd 2008
Text by Curator: Giulia Foscari

The architecture of Andrea Palladio represents the built manifestation of Palladio's utopia of synthesizing all humanistic values by establishing the exact role and relation of each part of his architectural compositions - from the organism as a perfect whole to each single room. The proportion of each room is in fact determined by a specific set of “harmonic“ relations that derive from the Euclidian mathematics practiced in the 16th Century.

Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher - when invited to initiate a dialogue between contemporary architects and Palladio in occasion of the 500th anniversary of Palladio's birth - focused their study on one room, conscious that exploring the logic and relational system of a single room they would have addressed and captured the essence of Palladio's architectural theory.
Villa Foscari La Malcontenta, a building designed by Palladio in 1555 for a site along the Brenta River, represents the ideal setting for this exploration as it was conceived and built by Palladio as a manifesto to demonstrate the perfection of his architectural theories to the Serenissima Republic of Venice.
The proportions of the rooms of the piano nobile of La Malcontenta thus constitute the starting point for Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher's study. The frequency curves generated by the harmonic proportional system of the villa are progressively transformed, through mathematical algorithms, to define a genotypic elementary form that contains in its DNA the whole Palladian set of rules. As a result of this experimentation, multiple complex spatial environments are generated through lawful variations of Palladio's classical proportions.
The natural equilibrium achieved by Andrea Palladio in La Malcontenta is thus shaken by the dynamic component introduced by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, who have long abandoned the Euclidian mathematics that generated Palladio's proportional theories - that could only lead to the definition of one singular and “perfect” relational system - and explore the potentials of advanced digital techniques.
In such way, within one room of this architecture that stands on the Brenta River since five centuries - within the void of such room - “Aura” is generated as a spatial morphology that reflects the structure of this void, the skeleton of this ethereal space.
As a further demonstration of the generative potential of Palladio's proportional system, a second installation was designed for the symmetrical room. “Aura L” and “Aura S” are thus presented as two “phenotypes” of the complex order generated by a contemporary translation of Palladio's harmonic system.