Sacred and Profane
Meditative spaces in (H)adrian's Villa
This space, called the Philosophers Study, operates at a hinge point of the plan. Located on the North edge of the site, at the base of a shallow hill, the plan splays into two distinct wings from this location. To the east, the bibliotek and imperial palace straddle the hillside. On the west, the more public spaces, including Hippodrome, Poecile Stoa, Stadium and Baths flank the hill, with views that extend into the broader valley below.
A space is well suited to meditation. The layout is an ambulatory one, with the canal and outer ionic peristyle both enveloping a central set of rooms.
In this, the circular plan is novel; but the precedent for a sacred space enveloped by an ambulatory is seen often in architectural history. Renaissance and Gothic churches frequently have apses that run parallel to the central nave, and Roman villas, especially those for the wealthy, were known to have a peristyle colonnade enveloping a central courtyard.
As a result of the convergence between movement and thought, this has always been one of the most intriguing plan spaces that I have ever seen. The actual space does not disappoint.
|View to the North. Peristyle and ambulatory along the outer edge of the Philosophers Study. The North entry can be seen just to the left of the broken column.|
|View to the south east. The peristyle here is totally destroyed, but a view of the central chamber is more evieent.|
|From the West entry. Ambulatory and bridge to central space. Note how the alignment of bridge and entry and not associated, but rotated, as if each shell of the plan design rotates independently around a shared center.|
|Plan image. From Gutenberg.|
At the far end of the Searapeopn of Canopis, priests would perform religious sacrifices. (H)adrian was known to have secular celebrations and parties on a regular basic at this location.
This space aligns almost directly North-South.
|A Crocodile guards the space. These are concrete castings, with the 1st C. AD ironwork now exposed. His beasts were modeled after those found in Egyptian palaces along the Nile.|
|View through the colonnade towards the alter. Ares, and other statues guard the entry. Caryatid, figural Muses, line the right side of the image.|
|View to the North from the alter. This space is built to be a combination of Grotto and the domes used for the Hippodrome on this site (and similar to the Baths of Caracalla in Rome).|