Michaelangelo and San Lorenzo
One of the most important churches in Florence, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, was designed by renaissance architect Brunelleschi, though not completed until after his death. It was later modified by Michelangelo and Nigetti and became the resting place of the Medici family. Michelangelo’s design for the façade, consisting of blocks of white carrara marble, was commissioned by Pope Leo X but abandoned because of cost.
As you can see from the image, the Basilica does look unfinished, the roughly hewn stone of the façade contrasting with the finely designed dome beyond. Now the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, is reviving the project by leaving it to a popular vote. Michelangelo’s plans and drawings as well as two wooden models are known to exist, so it would be up to the modern architect and builders to interpret his work.
But how do you interpret the work of a genius? It would be a very brave architect and construction crew to attempt this. The project’s critics rightly point out that materials and building techniques have changed in the last 500 years – and not for the better. For me, I would love to see a renowned contemporary architect reinterpret Michelangelo’s design, transforming it for the 21st century and beyond. I think Michelangelo, who was all for experimenting with new techniques, would approve.
22 August 2011