The Palladio Studio – Old Values, Current Challenges, New Ideas

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Studio Instructor

Rene Tan


This is studio on the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80). It is however, not a history course about the life or works of Palladio but, instead, a design studio that studies the design principles of Palladio’s works and its relevance today.

The setting is Venice, the project is the Biblioteca del Mondo, and context is the Venice Biennale.


The objective of the studio is to familiarize the student with the works of Palladio and to examine why the design principles are applicable today and explore ways of applying them now—amidst current challenges. No study of architecture is complete without some grounding of Palladio, his influences in architecture throughout history and the era he is from. From Italy to the USA and from England to Singapore, ‘classical buildings’ are (one may argue) footnotes of the buildings of Palladio—his villas, churches, palazzos and even his bridges.

Studio Assignments

Students will analyse Palladio’s buildings in both 2 and 3 dimensional forms. Students will do graphic analysis, computer simulations and build models examining issues like scale, proportion and—amongst others–hierarchy, Central to this studio is the writings of Palladio—in particular the Quattro Libri, The Four Books of Architecture. The studio will read the Third Book, understand its contents, and apply the relevant aspects to the studio design project.

Design Projects

The design project for the semester is to design a ‘LIBRARY OF THE WORLD’. Apart from the practical demands of form and program, the design project will also address issues of context, structure, construction, symbolism and metaphor.

Project 1 Sketch project – 1 week
Project 2 Biblioteca del Mondo (Singapore Site) – 4 weeks
Project 3 Biblioteca del Mondo (Venice Site) – 8 weeks

Design Project Sites

The project site will be in Singapore (at the Singapore River) and Venice (at the Arsenale).

Design Project Themes

The studio will address themes like place vs space, permanent vs transient, fixed vs movable, dry vs wet construction, form vs transformation. Other issues to be considered are: vagaries of weather and demographic movements.

Weekly Schedule

Tuesdays at SUTD studio; Thursdays at RT+Q Architects. The idea is to balance the teaching of architecture in an academic setting with experiencing architecture in an urban context.