Tuscan Architecture – What to Look For

There’s nothing like an Italian villa carefully cosseted amid the gently rolling countryside to celebrate the simple things in life. The magnificence of Tuscan styled homes can be attributed to the universal appeal of Tuscan architecture. Here’s a unique rustic style that has managed to transgress barriers of time and space and has steadfastly refused to be straitjacketed into stereotypes. No wonder, its appeal is ageless.

Quintessential Holiday Retreat

For those that want some respite from the seething energy of big cities, a home designed in true-blue Tuscan style to soak in the silence of solitudes is ideal. Its only here that all the key elements of the natural environment get their due. Though these homes bear a striking resemblance to Mediterranean styled homes, the Italian architecture is a lot less intricate and certainly enjoys mass hysteria.

There’s A Lot In Common

The generous use of stone or terracotta on roof tops, terracotta and stone tiles on floorings and wooden beams is the common thread that runs through most homes in Tuscany. Local veneer is as popular a choice as red tiles on the roofs.

You just cannot miss the grandeur of the majestic entryway. Paved with bricks, most outdoor spaces boast of a Tuscan-inspired water fountain and lovingly manicured gardens replete with tall cypress trees swaying to tunes of the gentle breeze. A patio or portico with an open-arched entryway adds to all the opulence and drama. Walkways lined with columns and open archways complete the magical Tuscan feel.

The intricate detailing with stone exudes warmth, just like the stone tiles on the floor inside the home. But what really takes your breath away is the unending sense of space everywhere- in the plush living rooms, the alluring bedrooms and bathrooms and the much-feted Tuscan kitchens. Here again, natural elements like wood, stone and a veritable mosaic of mind-blowing colors ensure the blueprint for a successful design.

The Beautiful Architecture Of Modena, Italy

Italian architecture is timeless, the soft colours and pleasing structures to very little to offend and always leave an impression on you. Modena is a city situated in the mid north west of the Italian peninsula and is most famous for being the home town of the Ferrari but it’s also right in the middle of the Italian food corridor which runs from Bologna, the father of Italian food to Parma, the home of ham and down to Modena. As well as these claims to fame Modena is also the home to one of the most beautiful Italian cathedrals and some wonderful architecture.

Modena has numerous claims to fame, not only is it the hometown of Ferrari (the Italians other great passion), it was also the hometown of the late and great world famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti and it’s also one of the Emilia-Romagna region’s great gastronomic cities, producer of the most beautiful vinegar in the world, balsamic among other things. If you are into your food Emilia-Romagna has to be the Italian region to visit.

But what is the real Modena like? Having visited Bologna many years ago and been overcome by its beauty I’d always promised myself I’d get to Modena one day. Other than the obvious things about Modena I knew very little about it so was looking forward immensely to finding out more about the cities Italian architecture.

As soon as I arrived I headed for the main square, when ever you arrive in an Italian city for the first time the main Piazza is always a good starting point. Piazza Grande is the main Piazza in Modena, and a very grand Italian Piazza it is too, being home to the beautiful cathedral. It has to be one of the most beautiful churches anywhere in and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen any where in the world.

Building started on the cathedral in 1099. At the time Modena was without a bishop as the one chosen by the Pope was not approved by the locals, hence the citizens of Modena managed and paid for the cathedral to be completed, some achievement. The beautiful white stones covering the outside of the cathedral were discovered, during renovation work to be Roman tombstones, this was a surprise to the restoration workers and historians who even found inscriptions on the stones. The doorways are adorned with life-like sculptures and these really set the cathedral apart from older cathedrals that generally have flatter one dimensional sculpture’s. The sculptures look magnificent in their white stone but they have a somewhat eerie appearance to them due to the use of lead as eyes, the black eyes staring down at you from the beautiful white figures is strange.

Standing proudly at either side of the main entrance to the cathedral are two magnificent Roman lions, the doorway to the Piazza Grande is also guarded by two magnificent lions, this time made from an Italian pink marble.

I could spent hours inside cathedrals just looking at the reliefs and carvings, I always feel slightly disappointed when leaving a magnificent looking cathedral that isn’t regaled with historical reliefs that tell a story. I certainly wasn’t disappointed in Modena. On one side of the church, beneath an arch linking it to a tower there are some wonderful carvings believed to be King Arthur and his knights as well as scenes from Aesop’s fables. My favourite of all was a calendar showing the months of the year complete with an agricultural task for the Italian farmers that would be carried out in the given month. This reminded me of a similar carving I saw at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice.

A later section was added to the cathedral in the 13-14th centuries, this was made out of a beautiful Italian pink marble and is of a more Gothic appearance than the earlier parts of the cathedral but it still links nicely with the older section, rather than looking like a bolt-on.

As with all Italian cities the main Piazza is the focal point of the city and Piazza Grande is no different. Up until 1931 the Piazza held the city market but this was moved to a purpose built covered site where it is still held today. Although not the site for the market any longer the Piazza is still very much the place to meet people, take a stroll or just sit and enjoy an espresso.

Modena’s buildings are a wonderful terra cotta colour, the sort of colour that lends itself wonderfully to Italian architecture, so warming and gentle on the eye. The good thing about Italy is that is still so in touch with its heritage, the citizens of Modena have to respect their heritage to the degree that the colour of all buildings must fall within local council guidelines to keep the aesthetics of the city.

Walking through the narrow atmospheric cobbled streets into the sleepy piazzas you can really get lost in the sense of Italian history that Modena exudes through its architecture.

Modena has had an up and down history. Modena flourished under Roman rule but then went into steady decline as a power hub until the end of the 16th century when the ruling d’Este family made it their home. The family saw how Modena had fallen into declined and realised that it had potential and set about modernising the city to make it one of the Italian greats.

The d’Este family built their home, the Palazzo Ducale (not to be confused with the Venetian palace of the same name) on top of Modena’s existing castle. The spectacular Palazzo still stands today; still in all its original glory, the unfortunate thing is that it is now an impregnable Italian military academy with no access for to the public.

The Importance of Applying Coating and Textures to Architectural Foam Products

Why coat architectural foam? The right foam finish may be a lot more important than you believe. Foam without a finish is left exposed to the elements, allowing it to degrade more quickly. It just won’t stay in good shape, no matter what quality foam you used initially. A good foam finish can also give your architectural foam a whole new look. It doesn’t have to look like foam! No one should ever try leaving architectural foam raw. Here’s a look at the finish options available and why you should use them.

Coatings and textures for architectural foam come in a number of types, but they all have a few things in common. They offer your foam greater durability and resistance to the elements. They also increase its resistance to pests, so that small animals and insects can’t invest your foam. Good quality foam coatings also increase resistance to moisture and extreme temperatures, decreasing cracking and other problems caused by the seasons. They make your foam much lower in maintenance requirements, too. Foam that’s been effectively coated can be fixed easily and quickly. Just use the recommended patching materials, and your architectural foam features are as good as new.

Use the right coating, and your foam becomes safer, too. There are fire resistant foam finishes that can make a building less likely to burn. Plus, foam finishes can give you a huge range of style options. You don’t have to stick with the same foam style that everyone else has. Your foam can mimic concrete, fake stone, rough surfaces and smooth ones, can look like wood, and can even imitate exotic stones like marble and granite. That gives you a wide variety of design options that you wouldn’t have. Take the time to check out all the coatings out there, and find the one that’s going to offer you the look you’re after

Architectural foam is no good without the right finish. Fortunately, there are plenty of options on the market. You can have foam finishes that do just about everything for you, from fireproofing to allowing your architectural foam features to look just like granite! Be sure you check out all your options, so you’ll be able to pick the one that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier what they recommend. They might just have the right choice for you. Architectural foam is a great building material, but it’s even better when you apply the proper foam finish.

Gothic Architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that began in France during the 12th century. It was particularly associated with cathedrals and other churches. In Florence, Italy, the Gothic style became widespread in the 15th century AD. England could see a series of Gothic revivals in the mid 19th century and it spread across other parts of Europe. Across America, in the 20th century, this style was largely used for ecclesiastical and university structures.

Gothic style emphasizes the vertical plane and features largely skeletal stone structures. Gothic architecture structures have large stained-glass windows that allow more light to pass through. These windows are usually the point of focus to design other structures of the building. Usually, buildings have extensive glass windows, sharply pointed spires, cluster columns, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, pointed arches using the ogive shapes, and inventive sculptural detail. Flying buttresses were used as a means to support higher ceilings and slender columns.

Building materials used in Gothic architecture are usually native stones. But in Northern Germany, Scandinavia, and Northern Poland, where native stones were unavailable, simplified provincial Gothic churches were built out of bricks. Gothic brick buildings were associated with Hanseatic league, an alliance of trading cities of Northern Europe. There are over a hundred brick Gothic castles across Northern Poland built by the Teutonic Knights.

The French Gothic style has different sub-styles, including Rayonnant and Flamboyant styles. The Gothic cathedrals of France are highly decorated with statues on the outside and paintings on the inside. They are built over several successive periods and the dominant architectural style changes throughout a particular building. In England, Gothic style was more widely revived as a decorative, whimsical alternative.

The Gothic style that prevailed in the 20th century, known as Neo-Gothic, is found mainly in modern churches and college buildings. Although it was considered inappropriate, Gothic style was used for early steel skyscrapers, jailhouses, and towers.