GUARINI, Guarino
(b. 1624, Modena, d. 1683, Milano)

Exterior view

Cappella della Santissima Sindone, Turin

The Cappella della Santissima Sindone was designed to house Christ's shroud. It was built at the eastern end of the cathedral, directly adjacent to the royal palace. Guarini took over the work on the chapel in 1667, begun by Amadeo di Castellamonte. The dome of the chapel is an example of the increasingly dynamic structure of the domes Guarini designed. In many respects Guarini followed in the tradition of Borromini.

In the high drum of the dome six large arched openings alternate with solid pillars which contain Borrominesque concave tabernacle niches. With this unbroken rhythm of pillar and arch one would expect a spherical dome above this drum. Yet we are faced with an entirely unexpected feature. Segmental ribs are spanned from centre to centre of the six arches, resulting in a hexagon. By spanning other ribs from the centre of the first series of ribs and by repeating this method six times in all, a welter of thirty-six arches is created, of which three are always on the same vertical axis. Since each rib has a vertical spine (bisecting a segmental window), no less than twelve vertical divisions result, which are clearly visible outside as the structural skeleton of the dome.

In the exterior, the principal motif in the lower zone is the six large windows of the drum, united under an undulating cornice. Above it appears the exciting maze of zigzag steps, which are actually the segmental ribs of the dome. Finally, there is the serene motif of rings diminishing in size, crowned by a pagoda-like structure to which nothing corresponds inside.

The picture shows the exterior view of the dome.

View the ground plan of the Cappella della Santissima Sindone, Turin.