NOBILE, Pietro
(b. 1774, Campestro, d. 1854, Wien)


Swiss architect and engineer, active in Austria as Peter von Nobile. He is regarded as one of the most prominent architects of the late Classicism in Vienna and the leading architect of the Habsburg court.

His father moved the family to Trieste where the young Pietro attended school. He continued to be educated in Rome by Antonio Canova between 1801 and 1806.

In 1807 he was appointed engineer for construction in charge of Trieste, Istria, Aquileia and Gorizia. In 1810 he was officially appointed chief engineer for construction of bridges and roads in the Illyrian coast in Istria. He designed the coastal road from Koper to Pula, made new plans, sketches and drawings of monuments such as the Pula Arena, the Temple of Augustus and the Arch of the Sergii. He also designed St. Peter's Church standing on Tartini Square in Pirano (now Piran, Slovenia). For the protection of monuments in Pula he did more than anyone else before him.

In 1817 he was summoned to Vienna to direct the architectural department of the Akademie der Bildende Künste (Academy of Fine Arts), and his austere Classicism made a huge impact on his students. In 1819 he became head of the department of architecture at the Vienna Academy.

When in Vienna he designed two significant Neoclassical buildings: the Theseustempel (Temple of Theseus) in the Volksgarten (1819-22) and the Burgtor (Fortress Gate) in the Heldenplatz (1821-24). The former is a miniature version of the Doric Temple of Hephaestus, Athens, built to contain the sculpture of Theseus and the Centaur (1804-19) by Antonio Canova, and the latter a massive gate (based on a severe design by Cagnola) giving access to the open space in front of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg). Unfortunately, the fortifications in which the gate was set were demolished in 1859, so the Burgtor is now an isolated structure.

Other works by Nobile include the Potocki Chapel, Kraków Cathedral, Poland (1830-32), and the Casa Fontana (1827-30), Palazzo Costanzi (1838-40), and the Pantheon-inspired Church of Sant'Antonio Nuovo (1828-49), all in Trieste.