ManicMammy's Blog

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In awe with a touch of vertigo

Posted on | October 16, 2009 | No Comments

If I had my UCD days again, I’d probably opt for Architecture or Civil Engineering as my course of choice in preference to Mechanical Engineering. I’ve always loved the clarity and logic of maths and physics but I am also fascinated with the design, vision and practical know how of people who responsible for erecting grand buildings.

Kevin McCloud, though irritatingly smug at times,  is likeable and does make wonderful tv programmes on house design, creation and architecture. So I was really looking forward to sitting down and watching his latest Grand Tour series on Channel 4. The premise of the series is that Kevin, like many predecessors throughout history  such as Christopher Wren,  is taking time out to travel around and experience Europe. Episode 2 of this series focused on Florence and Rome and immediately caught my attention as the Renaissance had lead to a golden age of art and architecture in these cities.

It was very interesting to view the existing Italian buildings and see what huge influence they had on London edifices such as St Paul’s Cathedral. The scale of dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence blew me away. How this was concieved much less built all those years ago is awesome. I had no idea it was a dome within a dome and is the largest masonry dome ever built. The craftmanship and labour is amazing.

The view from the inside kicked in my vertigo ;-)

The influence of the Medici family seems to be omnipresent in Florence. The 2 kilometre private tunnel that Cosimo  had built, which leads to the Uffizi Gallery is filled with art masterpiece after art masterpiece and such expression of power and wealth is somewhat suffocating.

Kevin continued on from Florence to Rome and compared its urban planning to what Wren wished implemented in London post Great Fire and more.

This is a fabulous series if you’re at all interested in architecture, history or art and how they interact.  I look forward to watching the remaining episodes.  It has resulted in a definite desire to visit both of these cities and who knows, maybe a Fiat 500 is the way to travel?

(photos courtesy of channel 4 website)

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