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Cultural Influence on Roman Architectural Paradigm


Since time in sundry, originality and tradition has always constituted the architectural paradigm that reflected the culture of the time. Basically, the architectural design is influenced by the innovation and convention forces that merge imagination and rationality in adopting a design paradigm in line with the events and activities of a specific era. The architectural designs of the previous ere convincingly balanced the realistic and futuristic thoughts to create a Roman restrictive perspective on religion characterized by different economic, social, religious, and traditional beliefs displayed in the unique design of monumental structures with cultural meanings. Thus, this analytical treatise attempts to explicitly review the underlying cultural influences in the Italian architectural paradigms and examine how these cultural aspects were communicated through innovative building designs in Rome and beyond.

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Influence of Culture in the Rome Architectural Paradigms

In determining how art, religion, philosophy, and literature offer resources for celebration of life through architectural designs, a thorough analysis of the beliefs held by the society authenticates the type of building designs that were built during each era. In the Italian community, in the early and mid-sixteenth century, Christianity’s devotion characterized humdrum affairs, refutation, and broad of economic quest among the predominantly Catholic nation (Khan Academy of Research par. 4). Specifically, this church age ethic was a motivation to its followers to adopt a culture of hard work, business growth and success, and reinvestment of surplus output back into business activities as opposed to frivolous spending. In the early 16th century design, Italian architecture adopted the Baroque style in the architecture of most of the churches as influenced by the Catholicism culture which was dominant then (Bermudez par. 9).

Specifically, High-class people controlled most Rome, but middle-class people where have a lot of influence on their demand for theatres and churches. As a result of this demand, a movement began as an attempt to replace Mannerism to different style; this movement was called “the baroque era”. As a result, the Neo-Pallan art by Borromini and Bernini took over the building design architecture (Moore par. 9). The uniqueness of this style was characterized by the Catholicism symbolism through mixing sculpture paintings and trickery with religious meaning to reaffirm the Roman Catholic faith.

For instance, the St. Peter’s Basilica building, which was designed by Carlo Moderno, Donato Bramante, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Bernini between 1606 and 1612, was a direct reflection of Catholicism symbolism characterized by golden bars, accurate masonry, a unique obelisk with huge spaces, series of columns placed in strategic parts of the building, and pictures of the pope and other saints (Dewey 67). Since the primary users of this design were Christians, the architectural design had to embrace the Catholicism culture characterized by sculptural paintings with religious meanings. The St. Peter Basilica is an old church but with a ton of historic events and architects who made this wonderful building with its great pieces as Bernini’s Baldacchino, and Michelangelo’s Pietà (Szasz par. 7).

Besides, the San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane which was designed by Borromini and Antonio adopted the same theme as that of St. Peter’s Basilica since the buildings were designed and constructed within the same era. Specifically, this building is classical with a lot of curving and cartouche. It’s unique from the exterior design and attracts most people’s attention as was influenced by the unique Greek culture than was slowly penetrating the Roman Catholicism culture in the 16th century (Moore par. 7). Because of its unique shape, most churches are built so huge to be remembered, but this building is small compared to them. However, it has an unusual look and still holds secrets on the Roman Catholicism movement of the 16th century.

Unlike the Italian architectural paradigm characterized by the 16th century Catholicism movement culture, the Rome architectural paradigm of the early 20th century was mainly influenced by the capitalist culture and the need to display power to the world. The modern architectural design took over from the traditional design as a technological paradigm made a design of unique structures possible. Since the political climate of this period was characterized by world war and radical break from the past and the concurrent designs, new ideas in psychology and philosophy kindled a search for new modes of expression, as rapid social change and advance in design science made it possible to create Neo-Classical and skyscrapers architectural styles. Basically, the Rome culture at this time was skewed towards radical reforms and experimentation in order to come up with designs that would survive another possible world war that impacts the structural design of buildings (Szasz par. 9).

For instance, the Pons Museum in Rome adopted the ancient design characterized by experimentation of brick and iron pillars in building design to confirm the aspect of power emergence. This unique design is spiraling upward and outward in a smoothly sculptured coil of massive concrete, wroth iron, and bricks to represent the Roman ancient culture of a radical departure from tradition after the Napoleon dispensation. From its outer look, you can tell that it is a piece of art with a lot of hidden treasures inside. From the exterior appearance, one can guess that it colorful inside (Khan Academy of Research par. 9). It’s like a song where the engineering enjoyed every single minute they spent on this building. Basically, it can be argued that the Greek engineers had a radical plan in mind when designing the structure to create an actual feeling of calculated motivation, which dominates the need for balancing the aspects of space and dimension. Just as most of the structures within the Roman inner circle of civilization, the design of the Pons Museum conforms to the unique Rome culture characterized radical shift from heavy concrete structures to light red brick buildings with arches.

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The same culture was displayed in the building design of the Hadrian Museum at the center of the then vibrant Roman culture. Being a fuse between ancient and middle age design, the material associated with the Rome culture such as brick, gravel, and marble were used. This architectural design is associated with a patterned brick façade topped by a soaring cylindrical turret and represents the state of a superpower as the first museum of its own kind in the world. As a matter of fact, one can feel the modernism in this building and how the engineers mixed the old style with the middle age design (Moore par. 11). It’s such a good example to express the development culture in Rome, which is heavily influenced by the radical reforms from traditional to middle age design characterized by light, superior, and environmentally friendly architectural design.

Naturally, members of the 16th-century Italian Architectural era had Christianity culture, which is an event that has a religious foundation and seems to suggest that supernatural power is the source of their strength. From the corridors of moralist belonging to the ‘nominalistic’ school of thought, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The church is inevitable and very necessary in the design and symbolic representation of the traditional and conservative Catholicism faith. The traditional beliefs cage describes an inherent increase in social life rationalization of an event beyond man’s interpretation (Szasz par. 13). This belief system ensnares people unwillingly in teleological effectiveness coordination, power, and lucid calculation. As a result, social order bureaucratization is just but the holding exercise. The design spirals inwards and outwards with the support of several pillars that provide the support to the frame of the structure to represent the then common Americanization feeling in architectural conceptualization. The emergence of the independence in architectural design during the middle of the 16th century could have influenced the Greek engineers’ radical approach of creating ambiance and unique design used as the structural map for constructing the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Church (Szasz par. 8).

This religious rationalization facilitated the establishment of calculated motivation dominated designs that conformed to the Roman perceived faith. Therefore, the paradigm shift from old mobility forms was replaced by stringent symbolism displayed in the design of this building. Christianity dominated the structure of this society and was vital towards regulating complexities. Domination, therefore, defined compliance from rational calculation to simple habituation. Depending on its form, dominance is intrinsic of an interest. Same as in a typical culture, Catholicism dominance during this era is arranged in hierarchical order as indicated in the symbolic design of this building.

The main materials used in this building are marbles, gold, and iron molded into traditional columns and pilasters and have huge spaces between them (Moore par. 9). From observation, it is apparent that the structure was planned by the integration of conventional and traditional architectural designs to create the flowing and light-weight building. For instance, the pillars that make up the entire structure are arranged in smaller and larger perfect quadrangles within the same distance and dimension to each other. The tallest unit within the building is only two stories but its design has created an illusion of a high-rise structure anchored by simple pillars (Bermudez par. 12).

Another interesting architectural design is the San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane. This church building remains instrumental in the understanding position of the society on issues and its own metamorphosis on the spheres of aesthetic and erotic conceptions during the mid 16th century. Several issues surrounding the interaction between economic behavior and religious ideas as a measurement of economic system rationalization are apparent in the design of this building (Bermudez par. 8). This towering structure stands as the tallest and lightweight concrete structure during the 16th-century era. The most unique part of this structure is its circular office forms and wide-open spaces.

In addition, the San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura by the ancient Greek engineers entailed the application of traditional technology in architecture design. Notably, this work is comprised of a combination of three major elements: artistic, social use (aesthetic) as well as technology. Arguably, this work comes to light as building technology changed from primitive brick technology to dimensional design technology. Due to the advancement of building technology, it was possible to develop some of the stylish aspects of the building. Throughout this building, the engineers consistently balanced the three and two-dimensional special arrangements in the design of this building. Besides its unique design, San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura’s design of the tall and high-density building in Rome has greatly influenced the philosophy of post-modern design in structures across the world such as the San Francisco Museum of modern art (Bermudez par. 15). Factually, this structure has remained a complementary and integrated design that is intrinsic to architectural structural design borrowed from the inventions of the Greek engineers in the 16th century.

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In summary, the themes such as identity, tradition, handling, and holdings are universal and well represented in the architectural designs of the San Sebastiano Fuori le mura, St. Peter’s Basilica, and San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane buildings among others in Rome. Reflectively, cultural representations in buildings have differences as a result of the uniqueness of every society and era of events. The search for religious fulfillment and capitalism forms the foundation upon which the Greek architectural paradigm was built. On the contrary, some societies are quite flexible; they easily accommodate new ideas. These societies spread across generations since their influence is inherent.

As observed, some societies are deeply rooted in their culture as seen in the 16th-century building designs in Rome as influenced by the Catholicism movement. On the other hand, the radical middle age culture of the Romans heavily influenced the design of its buildings which are inflexible to accommodate modernity. Therefore, it can be argued that the design of the Greek engineers in the middle of the 16th century and thereafter is an ideal example of how building innovation was greatly influenced by the urge to transform the traditional building design to conform to the dominant Christianity culture during that era.

Works Cited

Bermudez, Julio. On Paradigms and Avant Garde: Peeking into the Architectural Mind. 2013. Web.

Dewey, John. Art as Experience, New York, NY: Wideview/Perigee Book, 2005. Print.

Khan Academy of Research. Roman Architecture. 2012. 

Moore, Rosamie. Construction Techniques in Ancient Rome. 2014. 

Szasz, Colin. The Influence of Roman Engineering and Architecture. 2001. 

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