The Architect: Filippo Brunelleschi

Statue of Brunelleschi

Florence channeled their collectice resources into great civic projects. Most public works in 14th century of Florence used rounded arches, symmetrically placed bays, harmonious proportions and a different perspective vision so this style added a new way of seeing, treating buildings as freestanding objects in proportinal space. The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiorre was the greatest civic project of Florence which began in  1296 and entrusted to Arnolfo di Cambio who proposed a simple Gothic style. Projects continued by Francesso Talenti. The cathedral was as wide as the Pantheon in Rome. One of the significant property of cathedral was the central dome’s octagon which has 3 sub-octagons and each of these contained five radiating chapels. Additionally, in the 1380s urban designers did clear surronding buildings and rebuilt the houses with stone cladding and round-arched doors. Filippo Brunelleschi trained as a goldsmith and very successful in the art of construction that he earned the title ”architect”, a qualication rarely used since antiquity. He took charge of the project after a competition in 1418 and proposed to build the new dome with a self supported structure which saved a lot of money. The technique of self supported structure was combination of double shelled structure and masonry technique.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Brunelleschi conserved the dome’s pointed arches and ribs from Gothic program of a few generations earlier. He inserted rounded tribunes between the three apses to help absorb the outward thrust of dome and each of these marble cylinders had five shell- capped niches which were demonstrating the architect’s familiarity with ancient monuments. Also five shell-capped niches flanked by pairs half columns which were rare in that time and unknown Brunelleschi’s day.

Brunelleschi was also designed the Foundling Hospital in 1419. The place was originally orphanage.Brunelleschi respected the convertions of earlier hospitals in Florence like using long halls and courtyards set behind a public loggia. The facade had a distinct classical appearance.

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The dome of the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo in 1419 was one of the most known project of Brunelleschi which built for Medici family.

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In 1430s Brunelleschi probably designed the Pazzi Chapel for Pazzi family who were supporting Medici family certain period and than became the most hostile enemy, completed by architect and sculptor Michelozzo di Bartolomeo in 1460s. The Pazzi Chapel served as the chapter house.

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Brunelleschi also initated the plan to rebuilt the Church of San Lorenzo in the 1420s and this project to completed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo who was the architect of Medici family. Old church resembled the early Christian basilicas of Rome.

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Brunelleschi and Michelezzo provided a new sese of rational clarity for a sacred space.

For more information and picture visit East Tennessee State University:


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