(b. 1508, Padova, d. 1580, Maser)

Exterior view

begun 1550
Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza

Also begun by Palladio c. 1550 was the Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza (completed c. 1680), which has motifs echoing villa architecture. Its main axis runs parallel to the street, incorporating the surrounding space by means of a loggia. The tripartite division of the two-storey façade, with the solid middle section of the upper floor (accommodating a large sala built over the colonnade) surrounded by loggias, exemplifies the increasing emphasis in Palladio's work on the centre of a building, further expressed in the groups of four columns placed at the corners of the slightly projecting middle section. The ground-floor order is Tuscan and the upper floor Ionic, a combination that Palladio used in other buildings of this period, and the rhythm of the colonnade is repeated in the wall of the solid middle section with the use of engaged columns. The special feature of this façade is the use of the loggia, which was unusual in an urban palace.

The site of the Palazzo Chiericati, on a large open piazza on the River Bacchiglione, may have led Palladio to treat the structure not as a house set into a confined urban environment but as an isolated building in the manner of one of his villas. In the Palazzo Chiericati the façade alludes subtly to the idea of an urban piazza.

The plan of the Palazzo Chiericati is strictly symmetrical about a rectangular court at the rear, parallel to the street. The transverse vestibule in the centre of the ground floor is not matched on the upper floor; there the large sala reflected the importance of the piano nobile and the role of the sala as the site of public functions. The vestibule gives access to living-quarters at the sides; opposite the entrance a four-column arcade flanked by two staircases leads to the garden loggia. On this side, too, the size of the rooms in terms of floor area diminishes along the central axis.

This principle of dividing up the space of a house was methodically developed and followed by Palladio in his work. It is the use of rational building principles that gives Palladio's plans just that quality that makes the proportional relationship between man and building so successful.

View the ground plan of Palazzo Chiericati, Vicenza.