Elements of Architecture


Our Curator of Digital Initiatives Adriano Marinazzo published an article on the academic peer-reviewed journal Bollettino degli Studi Fiorentini (Florentine Studies Society Bulletin).*  In his essay, Marinazzo documented his participation in Elements of Architecture, the main exhibition of the XIV International Biennale of Architecture of Venice in 2014.  According to the Biennale’s website: “This exhibition is the result of a two-year research studio with the Harvard Graduate School of Design and collaborations with a host of experts from industry and academia.  Elements of Architecture looks under a microscope at the fundamentals of our buildings, used by any architect, anywhere, anytime: the floor, the wall, the ceiling, the roof, the door, the window, the façade…The exhibition…reconstructs the global history of each element.”  Marinazzo was invited by Rem Koolhaas (fam­ed architect and director of the Biennale) to present his discovery of Michelangelo’s first drawing of the Sistine Ceiling.

 Comparison between the sketch of the Buonarroti Archive, XIII, 175v and a view from below of the Sistine Ceiling – Digital Elaboration by Adriano Marinazzo

The 1508 sketch, a longtime mystery to scholars, was found beneath one of the artist’s poems on a folio from the Casa Buonarroti Archive in Florence (XIII, 175v).  The drawing refers to the architectural structure of the vault of the Sistine Chapel executed during the preparatory stage of Michelangelo’s fresco.  The sketch may have served as a reminder and jotting for the artist when he was studying the surfaces to be painted and how to arrange the scaffolding.  This makes the drawing a rare and precious document, probably the oldest one of its kind: for no other rendition of the architectural layout of the vault survives among Michelangelo’s preliminary drawings.  Adriano’s research was projected through a video installation in the Central Pavilion of the Biennale.  The use of technology is typical of Marinazzo’s modus operandi; his research is the result of the interaction of liberal arts, humanities, and STEM disciplines. 

Façade of the Central Pavilion of the Biennale


Installation of the contemporary suspended ceiling where the video of the research on the Sistine Ceiling was projected


*Adriano Marinazzo, Una riflessione su alcuni disegni michelangioleschi. La facciata laurenziana e il bozzetto per la Volta Sistina. Una ricerca presentata alla XIV° Biennale di Architettura di Venezia diretta da Rem Koolhaas, Bollettino degli Studi Fiorentini, nos. 26-27, Altralinea Edizioni, Florence, 2019, p. 34-43.