Il giardino ritrovato – The Rediscovered Garden or Bramantes Heritage
Kerstin Wagenschwanz

The aim of this thesis is to document the influence of Renaissance garden art on landscape architecture of the 20th century. Using the Cortile del Belvedere (Courtyard of the Belvedere Palace in the Vatican), designed by Donato Bramante, as a prime example of an Italian Renaissance garden, the paper attempts to work out the formative characteristics of this era. With this in mind, I will examine and evaluate the work of two prominent 20th century landscape architects, Pietro Porcinai and Dieter Kienast; trying to point out continuity and discontinuity in their works in regard to garden art during the Renaissance. It is important to consider essential design aspects which are present in the Cortile, and determine if they appear in the works of these two landscape architects, namely; to see how these elements fit in a contemporary setting. The comparison will follow a set of criteria established to analyze existing projects. The following basic criteria has been determined suitable for the Cortile del Belvedere: open space creation, 3-dimensionality, space sequence, axiality, symmetry, architectural condition, central perspective, the whole as made up of the independent parts, relation to architecture, locality, application of historical models as a basis for a new stylistic language, opening to contextuality. This research paper depicts the fundamental design principles of Bramantes Cortile and finds significant traces of these guidelines in the work of Porcinai and Kienast. Although there is no evidence of a direct conformity to the famous courtyard, there are many similarities and parallels, as well as further developments in style which can be noted in the projects under observation. In Porcinais work this manifests itself: as a dissolving of the strict axiality, symmetry and perspective through more flexible spatial development and attachment, in a more powerful visual and physical opening up of the garden, in the composition of new connections of open spaces between the garden, architecture and context, in relegating the dominant position of architecture and favoring the creation of a unity of garden and architecture, in redefining the reference to the locality through the landscape. Kienasts work, in particular, seen from the aspect of a contemporary theoretical philosophical rejuvenation of landscape art, can be linked to Bramantes Belvedere courtyard, and shows parallels by establishing a reference to the social processes, by approaching historical models and finally by making use of the physical spatial arrangement of the garden (open space creation, space sequence, architectural language, cited historical categories imbued with new meaning.) Bramantes principles have been transferred to changed dimensions and new types of space, especially in relation to the urban environment. This modification also encompassed, among others, the contemporary definitions of concepts of nature, urban nature and locality, the approach to the dimension and scale of urban structures and the conscious juxtaposition of the city to the landscape. Bramantes concept of space was extended by: Dissolving the central axiality through space sequence, as a system of open spaces independent of the architecture,giving up the primacy of architecture in favor of a creative unity, Detaching the central perspective through a means of visual transition, including the visual and the physical context space sequence and creating new correlations of open spaces and content as well as, utilizing historical elements/motifs as deliberately applied quotations. In working out the fundamental principles of the creation of the Cortile del Belvedere and the way it was acknowledge and further developed in the works of the two landscape architects of the 20th century, I have only scratched the surface; yet the first clues are there of a certain continuity in the selection of creative means. However, this application in both works cannot be viewed as a retrospective adoption. This dissertation, nonetheless, can serve as a building block for further investigations.