Vatican City Architecture

During the last years of the pontificate of Pius xii, carrying out an approach already started some time ago, the construction of service buildings was continued, all within the territory, in order to maintain the functionality of the state self-sufficient. In this way, the so-called ” industrial zone ” developed with the construction of the car park complex and the raising of the post office.

The first building (1956-58) with a very simple architecture, matched to the neighboring buildings, is mainly intended, in the underground part and at street level, as a service car park. On its front the ancient fountain was rebuilt, commissioned by the architect F. Martinucci by Pio ix, at the beginning of the spine of the Borghi and from there removed at the time of the demolitions to create the Via della Conciliazione; during the excavation work, a large cemetery area from the Roman period was discovered, preserved on site and cataloged. The post office building, already built during the pontificate of Pius xi, was completely renovated in the elevations and raised by one floor.

During the pontificate of John xxiii(1958-63) no works of particular architectural importance were carried out. However, important restorations should be mentioned, such as that of the Tower of Porta Pertusa, renamed Torre di S. Giovanni, and of the ” passetto ”, both in the crenellated section of the roof and in the internal covered one, for the entire length that goes from the Tower to the Lourdes grotto. Contemporary with this work was the restoration of the dilapidated Passetto dei Borghi in the stretch that goes from the Apostolic Palace to the first tower on the Piazza della Città Leonina, with the interiors being used for exhibition purposes.

According to areacodesexplorer, the papacy of Paul I (1963-78) represents a time of very important building initiatives, culminating in the construction of the complex of Museums Paolini and the classroom Audience. The works for the construction of the new wing of the Vatican Museums (Vatican, F. and L. Passarelli) were begun in 1963 and completed in 1970, since the Lateran Palace had to be vacated to make it the Vicariate of Rome. The new complex was therefore intended to house the Ethnological Missionary Museum and the Gregorian Profane and Pio Cristiano sculpture museums. Contemporary to this realization was the Audience Hall for which Fr. Nervi presented the first project in 1964 and which was solemnly inaugurated in June 1971. With these two works the modern architectural movement entered the Vatican.

The museum building definitely focuses on the dissonance of the surrounding environment, made even more evident by the use of exposed concrete walls. The intervention has partially recovered an implementation that had already begun with a much more modest project, which was then replaced by the new proposal. The new building becomes a sort of last arm of the Vatican Museums themselves to which it is joined in a single path that starting from the Vatican Palaces, through the long gallery and the Bramante staircase, the Belvedere palace, the Pinacoteca, the Palazzina dei Museums, ends in this new architecture. In terms of figurative research, the new building is resolved entirely in an articulated sequence of concrete or curtain-clad walls, as a unitary facing to resolve the articulation of the five main blocks of the factory; on the south side, however, the long plastered wall restores the ancient viale della Zitella.

Of great breath they are space and structural solutions to the Paul you that Nervi realized for papal audiences, which until then were held in St. Peter’s Basilica or in the Hall of Blessings. The classroom, defined by its author as a “machine for seeing and hearing”, is very large, designed for 7000 seats, has a trapezoidal shape and covers about 7000 m 2(12,000 with the annexed spaces); the very low vault has a span that exceeds 60 ml for a maximum height of 23 m. The roof is made up of 41 undulating structures, each made up of 18 prefabricated elements of continuously variable length and height, on the sides of which rectangular openings are also made of variable dimensions with the same law with which the lengths of the prefabricated elements vary. These are in white concrete and marble grit, treated, on the exposed surfaces, with a particular procedure, in order to obtain a regular, slightly granulated and perfectly white surface. A large bronze sculpture by P. Fazzini was placed at the back of the hall, depicting the Resurrection. The solutions given to the outdoor space of Aula were approached in a minor tone by the designer who did not ” dare ” compare with the imposing beauty of the contiguous Vatican Basilica; the elevations do not have the technical-structural and figurative relevance of the beautiful internal vault, while maintaining a noble aspect due to the simple travertine walls and the colossal polychrome glass rosettes.

Among the service works, carried out during the pontificate of Paul VI, we must remember the construction of the heliport, which entered service in the summer of 1976 and used for the transfers of the Pope from the City of the Vatican to Castelgandolfo or to other locations. It is located near the Tower of San Giovanni, in a dominant position, having two operational corridors free from obstacles in the north-south direction. Previously (1970) the construction of a large underground room had been completed in the areas of the former Petriano Museum between the new Aula delle Audience and the Braccio di Carlo Magno: it has an extension of 3200 m 2 ; above it the new square was built between the square of the S. Uffizio and that of the Protomartyrs.

The pontificate of John Paul iiit did not initially see significant architectural feats, but these then developed in the mid-1980s. A first group of interventions was carried out in the complex of the Vatican Palaces. Among these the main works are: the new paving of the Belvedere courtyard (1978), the underground storage under the Cortile della Pigna (1978-80) for the Vatican Secret Archive (50 km of shelving), the underground storage under the Courtyard of the Library (1982-83) for the Vatican Apostolic Library (further 5 km of shelving, for the conservation of precious manuscripts). Another underground depot consisting of two underground floors plus an above ground floor was built at the ” Vignaccia ” between 1984 and 1986: a further confirmation of the need to search for spaces in a very small area to meet the most diverse needs, ranging from the very important ones of the Archives and the Library to those of simpler conservation of materials or machinery. Furthermore, in the context of the Vatican Museums, the elevation of the building where the offices of the General Direction of the Vatican Museums are located, a building overlooking the Cortile delle Corrazze, and a large refreshment area, reserved for visitors, located near the Square Garden have been built., where sedans and papal carriages from the ” Raedis Pontificum Servandis ” have previously found accommodation in an underground room.

Among the works of lesser importance, but always essential in the context of the restructuring of the general services of the state, it should be noted the unification of the Vatican Printing Houses, in the ancient building of the “ Cavallerizza ”, obtained between 1988 and 1990 mainly through restructuring and extension of existing buildings. The renovation and enhancement of technological structures such as the Vatican electrical substation, the medium voltage electricity distribution network with twenty-five transformer substations serving the entire city of Vatican, the lighting systems of many rooms, including that of the Basilica and the telephone exchange (1991). The renovation of various buildings was completed and, again in the context of the reunification of the Vatican Printing Houses (1993), Roman observer.

Among the new buildings we should mention: the Dono di Maria welcome house (1987), located in the small ” Petriano ” courtyard between the Aula Paolo VI and the ancient church of S. Salvatore in Terrione; near the Vatican Radio the small convent Mater Ecclesiae (1994), in which an international community of cloistered nuns resides; finally, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, begun in 1993 and currently under construction.

Finally, among the most significant works inside the Papal Palace, the reorganization of the so-called Matilde Chapel, today the “ Redemptoris Mater ” chapel decorated with two polychrome stained glass windows by G. Hajnal, a crucifix and the Via Crucis by P. Fazzini, should be mentioned, while the marble floor and the papal coat of arms were designed by E. Ercadi and L. Scorzelli.

All these achievements, both those concerning the modernization of services and the new buildings, were designed directly by the General Directorate of Technical Services of the Governorate of the Vatican City.

In the last ten years, important restoration works have been carried out in St. Peter’s and in the square. Between 1985 and 1986 the facade of the Basilica was maintained and cleaned (G. Zander). This, which has a surface of about 7300 m 2 in vertical projection and a real one equal to 10,500 m 2, has been involved in interventions relating to: replacement of oxidized iron grappas, tessellation of the travertine, reintegration of mosaic parts and washing with nebulized water. The result was such that, when the work was finished, the intervention was so discreet that it did not appear to have happened. In the square, the maintenance of the arms of Charlemagne and Constantine, the colonnades and the statues above were carried out (1987-93). This work involved the removal of the patinas, the replacement of broken or missing elements and the consolidation of the various marble components with the insertion of clamps and stainless metal brackets. In 1991 the maintenance of the facades of the Vatican Palaces began, which involved the facing brick, the stone artifacts and the revision of the fixtures.

Vatican City Architecture

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