Laurentian Library


About the Library:

"The Laurentian Library, Florence, is located in the cloister of S. Lorenzo. The library itself is a long room with reading desks, well lit by rows of windows between pilasters which correspond to the beams of the ceiling. This reposeful and clearly articulated space is preceded by a much taller monumental vestibule of square plan, almost entirely filled by an extraordinary staircase (executed by Ammanati 1559-), spilling from the library door and multiplying into three flights of stairs, of which the outer two are hardly usable. The vestibule walls are particularly unorthodox; paired columns rising from insubstantial volutes are recessed behind the white plaster wall surface from which project tabernacle niches with pilasters perversely widening towards their capitals." —Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. p888.


3D Simulation Gallery

I undertook this simulation of Michelangelo's Laurentian Library after seeing a black and white photograph of the vestibule stairway. The ordered complexity of the spaces proved to be an ideal opportunity to flex my modelling muscles.

The model was definitely challenging, having only four photos to work from and an incredible amount of architectural detail to reproduce. First the common details were blocked out and simplified versions of these were created and assembled into a low resolution version of the space. Next the individual elements were fully detailed and substituted for the low res counterparts. Slowly the space took shape.

The model was created using AutoCad and the lighting simulation was performed using Lightscape. One of the difficulties in creating this model for Lightscape was the rigid geometry requirements of the radiosity simulator. Lightscape works best when no geometry overlaps, so the entire space had to be constructed as a complex polygon 'skin'.

After completing the simulation I discovered an article by Ben Nicholson, an american architect. He has discovered a series of floor tile patterns hidden underneath the desks of the library. These tile patterns represent mathematical relationships that become progressively more complex as you progress through the library.

Click the image to view the gallery:



Souce Photo Gallery

The Laurentian Library simulation was created using only a small sampling of photo documentation. As a result, there are a number of major innacuracies in the model; the desks are missing from the library hall, glazed windows are in the wrong place and the ceiling details were compeltely fabricated.

Despite all of these failings, this is still one of the most beautiful simulations I have ever created.

Click the image to view the gallery:



Learn more about the Laurentian Library on Ben Nicholson's site.

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