Round and Round

Villa, Nablus. Photo: Yuri Virovets.

Palladio’s Villa Rotonda has provided inspiration for architects over the ages, starting with Vincenzo Scamozzi, Palladio’s student who completed the Villa Rotonda after his master’s death. Scamozzi built La Rocca, a hilltop villa in nearby Lonigo. Inigo Jones designed several bi-axial houses, but never found a client. In the eighteenth century, there were at least four British Rotondas, the most celebrated being Lord Burlington’s Chiswick House. There are a number of more recent examples; I have seen a house inspired by Rotonda on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, designed by Alvin Holm, and there is a small version, the Henbury Rotonda, by Julian Bicknell, in Cheshire, England. Although neither is more faithful to the original than the replica built in Nablus, on the West Bank. The house belongs to Munib al-Masri, a petroleum services magnate. Another Rotonda-like house, Crystal, belonged to Onslow Roper, a fictional arms dealer in John Le Carre’s The Night Manager.

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