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The Renaissance architecture style originated in Florence in the early fifteenth (15th) century and then spread throughout Europe, replacing the Medieval Gothic style by the end of the sixteenth (16th) century. Renaissance architecture marked a rebirth of classical culture using many ancient Roman forms including the column and round arch, the tunnel vault and the dome. Renaissance architects studied the theory and practice of their Roman predecessors. They read the theories on architecture by Roman architect Vitruvius and examined ancient ruins in Italy, France and Spain to develop their style. Classical antiquity and Renaissance architecture used “order”, a system of traditional architectural elements as the basis for design. Five orders were used during the Renaissance: the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. The architects of the early Renaissance used the ornate Corinthian order the most while the simple strong doric was more prevalent during the high Renaissance. Renaissance architects started to achieve beauty through proportion as classical architects had before them. This characteristic differentiates the Renaissance style from the Gothic. Interest in proportion also led to the pictorial device of perspective, first formulated by the Florentine architect Fillipo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi was one of the pioneers of early Renaissance architecture in Italy. His most famous work is the Dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, also called the Duomo. This building took sixteen years to construct. Early in his career Brunelleschi lived in Rome. The Pantheon interested him greatly, causing him to study the engineering of its dome. Brunelleschi applied what he had learnt from the Pantheon to the construction of the Duomo. He made the Dome self supporting employing a machine that he invented for the project, including the world's first reverse gear. Brunelleschi also used pillars for structural support rather than ornamentation alone for the first time since the Romans. Leon Battista Alberti was another influential mind behind Renaissance architecture in the fifteenth (15th) century. His ten books on architecture became a bible for the craft Alberti created the facades of the Santa Maria Novella and the Palazzo Rucellai, both in Florence. These facades are noteworthy for their proportionality and perfect sense of measure. The beginning of the sixteenth century saw the development of the high Renaissance style of architecture, which heralded harmony, clarity and repose. Donato Bramante introduced this style with works such as the rectory of Sant' Ambrogio and the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, both in Milan. The Tempietto at San Pietro, in Montorio, his first Roman masterpiece, is a centralised dome structure that recalls classical temple architecture. Bramante also served as the first architect of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, until his death in 1514. The late Renaissance, also called Italian mannerism, spanned from 1520 until the end of the sixteenth century. Its style of architecture is characterised by sophistication, complexity and novelty, often in stark contrast to principles of the high Renaissance. Examples of mannerism include Michelangelo's Laurentian Library in Florence and the Palazzo del Te, by Giulio Romano, near Mantua. The construction of these buildings exploited the calculated breaking of rules and took sophisticated liberties with classical architectural vocabulary.
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