not an easy book
Borrornini's San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane abounds in ambiguous manifestations of both-and. The almost equal treatment of the four wings implied in the plan suggests a Greek cross, but the wings are distorted toward a dominant east-west axis, thus suggesting a Latin cross, while the fluid continuity of the walls indicates a distorted circular plan. Rudolf Wittkower has analyzed similar contradictions in section. The pattern of the ceiling in the articulations of its complex mouldings suggests a dome on pendentives over the crossing of a Greek cross. The shape of the ceiling in its overall continuity distorts these elements into parodies of themselves, and suggests rather a dome generated from an undulating wall. These distorted elements are both continuous and articulated.
At another scale, shape and pattern play similarly contradictory roles. For example, the profile of the Byzantine capital makes it seem continuous, but the texture and vestigial patterns of volutes and acanthus leaves articulate the parts.
The pedimented porch of Nicholas Hawksmoor's St. George, Bloomsbury, and the overall shape of its plan imply a dominant axis north and south. The west entrance and tower, the interior configuration of balconies, and the east apse (which contained the altar) all suggest an equally dominant counter axis. By means of contrary elements and distorted positions this church expresses both the contrasts between the back, front, and sides of the Latin cross plan and the duo-directional axes of a Greek cross plan. These contradictions, which resulted from particular site and orientation conditions, support a richness and tension lacking in many purer compositions.
Quondam © 2019.09.28