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Bertan > Bertan 21 Las portadas de las iglesias guipuzcoanas > Versión en inglés: The movement or rhythm of the facades

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The movement or rhythm of the facades

It is difficult to tell exactly to what extent the architects and designers of Baroque Gipuzkoan doorways in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries followed the dictates of contemporary fashion, which required elements of movement and dynamism, with walls advancing forward and back and to what extent they were simply adapting to the limitations of the terrain. The leading architects certainly knew of these effects and experimented with them whenever they had a free hand and the necessary financial resources. One very austere example can be seen in the church in Andoain, where Francisco de Ibero had complete freedom to design the project. Wishing to unify the facade of the church, he extended the side walls of the tower out like a screen or curtain to meet the porches, thus creating a monumental portico. These two wings formed a concave movement, reflecting Iberoís desire to use typical Baroque rhythmic effects.

35. Detail of the facade of the church in Andoain by Francisco de Ibero, who sought to unify the tower and portico, joining them with walls in the form of a screen, in a very Baroque rhythmic bulging movement.© Jonathan Bernal
35. Detail of the facade of the church in Andoain by Francisco de Ibero, who sought to unify the tower and portico, joining them with walls in the form of a screen, in a very Baroque rhythmic bulging movement.© Jonathan Bernal
36. The play of mobility on the surfaces of the doorways is well expressed in the church of Santa Maria in San Sebastian, where the movement is inwards towards the large recess;<br /> with a slight outward movement perceptible at the top.© Jonathan Bernal
36. The play of mobility on the surfaces of the doorways is well expressed in the church of Santa Maria in San Sebastian, where the movement is inwards towards the large recess;
with a slight outward movement perceptible at the top.© Jonathan Bernal

The interesting doorway of the church of Santa Maria in San Sebastian, also by Ibero, is a much more advanced example, which again plays with concave and convex elements. The recess of the entrance is vertically followed by a body that advances slightly towards us with the movement further articulated by setting the towers forward from the wall of the church.

37. In the doorway in Hernani the movement is seen through the supporting features:<br /> the columns move forward from the rest of the facade with its high pedestals.© Jonathan Bernal
37. In the doorway in Hernani the movement is seen through the supporting features:
the columns move forward from the rest of the facade with its high pedestals.© Jonathan Bernal
38. An irregular or articulated rhythm is a frequent feature of Baroque doorways. In Azkoitia the cornices do not run linearly:<br /> they advance and retreat to form irregular lines.© Jonathan Bernal
38. An irregular or articulated rhythm is a frequent feature of Baroque doorways. In Azkoitia the cornices do not run linearly:
they advance and retreat to form irregular lines.© Jonathan Bernal

Many examples of these back-and-forth movements, articulations and cutting rhythms can be seen in doorways from throughout the period, especially in the component elements: pediments, mouldings, sills and supporting elements, such as columns and decorative elements, as we can see in the doorways of Hernani, Azkoitia and the Sanctuary of Dorleta.

EFFECTS OF PERSPECTIVE AND SCENOGRAPHICAL EFFECTS IN DOORWAYS.

It is important to emphases that the urban projects entrusted to these architects were not equivalents of the great experiments in perspective to be seen elsewhere in Europe, but rather were guided by more modest designs. The most common arrangements consisted of frontal arrangements, coinciding with squares, streets or other important sites. The church of Santa Maria in San Sebastian was built on the site of an earlier one and was further restricted by the need for one of its walls to be placed up against the hill. Nonetheless, it was designed to rise above the narrow streets of the original urban nucleus, creating three distinct perspectives: a frontal one, visible from Calle Mayor, a tangential one from Calle 31 de Agosto and the road down from the Castle; and an oblique view along Calle del Campanario.

Thus the design for the church of Santa Maria no only solved a practical problem, it also gave it a striking scenographical setting. Juan Bernardo Frosne's plan, drawn up in 1744, shows that the old church and street plan were very similar to Pedro Manuel de Ugartemendía's reconstruction after the great fire and we can see that someone approaching the church along Calle Mayor from Plaza Vieja would have had a perfectly framed view of the large recess of the doorway. Once he reached Calle Iñigo Alto, he would have a broader perspective of the niche and flanking towers. Finally at the end of the street, he would be able to admire the main facade of the church in its entirety. This suggests that in integrating the building into the urban space, the designer deliberately sought different perspectives. The church and the street are linked, since the outer space penetrates the niche or volume of the building; at the same time, the top of the facade, which is set slightly forward, would have the effect of penetrating the urban space. This is a typically Baroque effect, with a play between the mass of the building and the urban space.

40. Plan of the town and harbour of San Sebastian in 1744, by Juan Bernardo de Frosne, showing the old church of Santa Maria and the streets from which the facade can still be admired today.© Zerbitzu Historiko Militarra
40. Plan of the town and harbour of San Sebastian in 1744, by Juan Bernardo de Frosne, showing the old church of Santa Maria and the streets from which the facade can still be admired today.© Zerbitzu Historiko Militarra
41. Angled view of the facade of the church of Santa Maria in San Sebastian.© Jonathan Bernal
41. Angled view of the facade of the church of Santa Maria in San Sebastian.© Jonathan Bernal

Another example of a design intended to stress the presence of the doorway can be seen in the Sanctuary of San Ignacio (St. Ignatius), in Loyola. The original architect, Sebasti·n de Lecuona from Oiartzun, considered building a path linking the town of Azpeitia and the Sanctuary. He surveyed and assessed the land through which it would run and built a path which was apparently not particularly striking in character. Ignacio de Ibero, who took over from Lecuona, ordered the extension and straightening of the path in 1733. Donations of land from the Duke of Medina de Rioseco, the Marquis of Alcañices and the estate of Loyola enabled a larger work to be considered. The essential idea was to add solemnity and give the doorway greater relief, placing it in the distance framed with its grandiose dome and towers. Where this straight avenue reached the main building it widened to form a small square or space in front of the large stairway leading out from the doorway. Although no drawings of the project have survived, the construction documents give us some idea of what they might have looked like. One of the basic features of the project was the uniformity of the layout, and the architect's interest in creating a great avenue using a straight longitudinal axis, thus augmenting the effect of perspective, and the panoramic end to this monumental road.

42. Plan of the access to the Sanctuary of Loyola with the avenue forming an axis that coincides with the portico, which finally widens to form a square. This broad avenue creates a fine effect of perspective, giving the building a greater sense of monumentality.© Xabi Otero
42. Plan of the access to the Sanctuary of Loyola with the avenue forming an axis that coincides with the portico, which finally widens to form a square. This broad avenue creates a fine effect of perspective, giving the building a greater sense of monumentality.© Xabi Otero
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