Critical examination of the monument through the survey


The Institute of Monuments Design and Relief plans a series of studies concerning the work of Francesco Borromini in Rome.  Our investigation is part of this framework which, on the basis of the important work carried out together with the students of the course, tries to characterize the essential aspects of Borrominian architecture.  An unfinished work was chosen because in it the structure appears in its nascent state and reveals, among other things, the aspirations and direction of the artist in the original phase of construction.  The work presents itself in an intermediate moment between the design and the complete realization, so that it points out the methods and the organization of the construction site, in addition to those technical precautions that the architect prepared for the installation of the finishes in stone, while the building appears already perfectly defined in its spatial synthesis. 

Anticipating the results of our work we can say that precisely through the relief of this monument and through the comparison of it with other Borrominian works both we have come to the conclusion that they seem to us well founded, even if only partially convergent with those of the current critical trends.  In fact, we have discovered how all the buildings of the Borromini since their inception express the characteristics of a deep conscious rationality, which hierarchically organizes all the elements.  It also seemed to us that an ever-constant relationship was established between the language of Borrominian architecture and the environment in which the monuments are immersed.  In the following pages, illustrating this relationship, we will come to define Borromini ‘s architecture in terms different from those of traditional criticism which has, in its most authoritative currents, defined as “illusionistic” and “capricious”.  To comfort us in an interpretation of Borromini’s architecture which we would rather qualify as “realistic” came another order of considerations.  The study of the monuments showed us that they were not conceived as spectacular forms intended to stimulate those dramatic suggestions of which the seventeenth and the Counter-Reformation were pleased, but that rather they were conceived as functional life centers, tending to cleverly articulate the structures in view of a practical end to which they always remain subordinate.  Borromini ‘s architectural work also presents a profoundly unitary organization: all the individual elements underline the unity of the building, a rich game runs between them of interdependencies governed by geometric relationships, almost a magniloquent period governed by skilful syntactic ties.  An imaginative but rationally disciplined work.  It seems so unfounded to define Borromini as a personality who “gave delirium” – it is the definition of the Militia – that is, as a personality who “a donné les plus grands modèles de bizarrerie” – is the definition of the rational listical encyclopedias of the eighteenth century – but it seems equally inaccurate  by virtue of what we have mentioned above, the judgment, although fascinating of modern criticism;  the Hempels, the Sedlmayr, the Argans, do not deny that irrationalism but, perfectly coherent with the new historicistic mentality, translate that irrationalism into a characteristic that appears neither as positive nor as negative;  Irrationalism thus becomes the essence of a mentality, according to Argan, not adequate to the times, since it would be the proof of a “neo-mannerist attitude, which, while decidedly devalues ​​all the naturalistic or broadly cognitive contents of the form, aims to entrust to the extreme the function and value of style “.  It is good to see how what we maintain is in disagreement with the interpretation of the distinguished scholar, who seems to sin in excessive interpretative refinement by postulating in Borromini a symbolism of the neo – Platonic brand substantially adhering to a similar neo – platonic symbolism of the Michelangelo architecture.  Similarly, always according to Argan, to the Caravaggesque youth symbolism; in our opinion, none of this is found in Borromini.  It did not seem that what Argan defines as a symbol that translates into allegory is a pretext for leaving the repertoire “fundamentally naturalistic of classical proportions and orders and for identifying individual forms for their own content, isolating them from the traditional proportional and perspective context “.  Borrominiana is not a paratactic period, on the contrary, it is a period full of syntactic bonds;  it is not an abstract symbolism proper to a restless mentality, it is instead a rationalism that is “realistic” in the aforementioned sense.  It is not restlessness determined by an inability to adapt, on the contrary it is continuous research, sometimes dramatic, intensely experienced, to determine an ever-greater relationship with nature and the environment.  It is therefore a “naturalistic” architecture (although we prefer to call it “realistic”).  We agree with Argan that Borromini in this search for new contacts with nature, with the environment, with the urban complex goes through a phase of “identifying” the elements, we would say of an original transformation of the traditional structures. But this identification is never an end in itself, it does not tend to express a conception of the world, but rather to achieve a real purpose: the building as a place of life. 

Therefore, it is never an isolated element but is always subjected to the organism.  This is the size of the Borromini, the importance of his research: a technical solution, a decorative element, a cornice, a pillar, a breaking of space, an accentuation of the projections are never a function of pure plasticity or  painting;  everything is always in function of the organism, of its systematicity, but even more and even better everything is in function of the environment in which the organism is inserted.  The examination of the works that Borromini designed in the most varied and constrained Roman environments, in the most complex and difficult conditions of space (urban constraints, insertion in works already started by other artists) revealed to us how the architectural solutions have always been determined  from these external and environmental elements.  Thus the planning organization is the result of a wise consideration of the space available, within which Borromini had to insert his work.  Given this premise, Borrominian architecture can no longer be judged as an end in itself, as a suggestive sculpture elaborated in the solitude of an abstract environment, but as the solution of contingent and ever new problems.  All aspects of the Borrominiana construction – be they a facade, a cloister, a dome – are influenced by the planimetric layout and demonstrate Borromini’s masterful ability to adapt his rich inventiveness and the vein of his language to all the iron needs of the de facto environmental conditions. 

The relationship between the Borrominian work and the environment is also demonstrated by another factor: light.  A complete exploration of Borromini’s entire architecture allowed a preliminary observation: the parts of the building, for example the facades, have a different configuration depending on the exposure and orientation of the surfaces.  When a facade is exposed to the north, the particular lighting conditions impose a “forcing of the masses”, that is, a greater accentuation of the overhangs, the adoption of marked curved surfaces and everything that allows a total exploitation of the light.  On the other hand, if we examine a facade facing south, this intense play of the masses is attenuated and the facade is strongly designed, the overhangs are very light and barely hinted, while only the horizontal moldings retain a certain plastic value. 

To our investigation, therefore, the Borrominian facades appear differently articulated: those exposed to the north, vibrant and sinuous, linear and drawn, those oriented towards the middle of the day.  Yet the observer does not feel a contrasting emotional charge: the different facades have the same expressive intensity.  The truth is that Borromini is an artist, in the broadest sense of the word, and as such tends to constantly express his world and his poetics, to affirm his style, and for this he uses himself, with full mastery technique and adherence to reality, of all the means that nature offers him.  Two exemplary constructions that reflect our thesis are the facade of the Church of San Carlino alle Quattro Fontani completely exposed to the north and that of the Oratorio dei Filippini facing south.  The one is almost backlit and is only hit by the setting sun at sunset, the other is totally exposed to the light, mostly coming from above.  And in fact, to obtain the same intensity of expression, Borromini definitely highlights the vertical structures in San Carlino while accentuating only the horizontal recurrences in the Hour thorium of the Filipinos.  The design of the second church is reflected in the plasticity of the facade of the first church. 

For this reason we would say that the architectural forms in Borromini are essentially instrumental.  Another commonplace of traditional criticism is that which affirms the existence of a profound rift between Renaissance classism and Mannerism on the one hand, and Baroque conceptism on the other.  This opposition was expressed in the most radical way by Wöllflin, whose criticism, however outdated, still finds considerable consensus today.  However, it is useful to take as a starting point of our discussion the schematization of the five pairs of opposites which, according to the historian, should characterize that fracture:

1) linear – pictorial;  surface vision;  in-depth vision; 

2) Vision on the surface and in depth; 

3) closed form – open form; 

4) absolute clarity – relative clarity; 

5) multiplicity – unity. 

Apart from the criticisms that can be addressed to any schematization, and therefore also to this, in particular, there are specific reasons for not fully agreeing with it.  In the first place, the pictorial of Borrominian architecture, as we have seen, is not in opposition to the linear conception which is also present in that architecture.  In the complex of his work, in fact, there is a subtle interplay between the two elements that cannot be considered as absolute data of a closed and dogmatic aesthetic conception.  On the contrary, plastic and pictorial are tools for a practical function.  They are essentially the different aspects of the “real”, but precisely because they cannot represent each other without the whole “real”, which on the contrary lives precisely by virtue of the instrumental ambivalence of the two.  The same goes for the second dichotomy on which, however, there is still something to be said, especially in consideration of the fact that with that opposition of vision in-depth it implies a substantially scenographic quality of the Baroque and Borrominian architecture.  The vision on the surface, moreover, and the vision in depth are in close relationship with a pretended opposition that pivots on the different functions of the projecting elements, that is, it benefits from a pretended opposition between conceptions that feel the value of the planes differently.  The first speech takes us to what we have already said about light, the second instead to what has been said about the pretended scenographic needs of Borrominian architecture. Another qualifying opposition, according to Wöllflin, is that between closed form and open form.

But the opening of an architectural form, at least in Borromini, is always in function on the one hand of the objective conditions of light, on the other of the need for insertion in the surrounding environment.  Without dwelling on the penultimate opposition between a purported classical absolute clarity and a barely relative clarity, an opposition that essentially repeats the old judgment of irrationality, we definitely arrive at the last point which seems to us the most important.  According to Wöllflin, Baroque architecture is expressed as a need for unity as opposed to the multiplicity of classical architecture.  It should be noted that the Borrominian unit (but the discourse can also apply to all Baroque architecture) is not a unit that excludes the multiple but is a unit that organizes the many pieces, it is a hierarchy of geometric values, unitary but individual.  The architectural building is ultimately an organism.  Nor to say that classical architecture excludes this characterization; it is only a question of a different way of conceiving the multiplicity together; it is a different organicity;  finally, it is a profoundly different enhancement of the analytic and the synthetic.  But in reality under this whole series of oppositions two substantial ones are implied: the first – already discussed several times – is the traditional one between irrationality and rationality.  The second from which belongs more than the other to the world of architecture is that between statics and dynamics: the dynamism of the baroque building would be opposed to the substantially static classical building.  According to Wöllflin in the Baroque world, (and in the Borian one), solidity and durability would falter.  In particular, the first that expresses the idea of ​​balance and symmetry through the horizontal and vertical sides would lose all value.  Substantially in agreement with this interpretation is also found the Argan, according to which “Borromini transforms the plastic theme into linear, the closed form in continuous form, the downward thrust into the opposite upward thrust” (1).  Different conclusions have emerged through the survey we have made.  The dynamic and the static, in fact, if understood in the sense of lesser or greater accentuation of solidity do not count as a differentiating element of two opposing epochs.  The baroque dynamism, and in particular borrominiana, is never achieved with prejudice to statics, but on the contrary it translates into a different order of equilibrium plans. 

This is the case, for example, with regard to the horizontal and the vertical which is another reason highlighted by criticism (2) in connection with a substantial change of “spirituality”. 

Here too, the same argument that we made on the site of the dichotomy between plastic and pictorial applies, even here in the final there is no unitary qualification of Borrominian technical language.  As we have already observed, the buildings with the facade facing south have a greater and more violent accentuation of everything that is horizontal with respect to the vertical; the cornices; the string courses highlight their plasticity through the horizontal plane.  It is obvious that this formal attitude of Borromini is once again linked to the incidence of light.  In this case, coming from the light from above, the light’s dark light of the molding is enhanced if this molding follows the horizontal plane.  On the contrary, all the limbs in the vertical direction are barely whispered, they are geometrized, while those in the horizontal direction take on the most varied movements, In Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori the problem is reversed.  Horizontal recurrences do not exist, vertical reliefs are the ones that take on the greatest importance.  In fact, here the illumination comes from the plane of the horizon and it is as if the facade had in some sense undergone a ninety-degree rotation. 

Light is therefore what predominates in the Borromean work; also in function of it are the technical solutions, the determination of the architectural characteristics.  In the panorama of current criticism, this emphasis on the value of light is nothing new.  Argan argues that “Borromini’s examination of the style highlights an essential element, which would be difficult to designate otherwise than with the critical term generally used for Caravaggio’s painting: luminism.  This term which indicates a particular way used by the painter to illuminate his figurations, seems difficult to transfer to architecture, always bathed in natural light “.  Already from this characterization of the Argan, however, it can be seen how light is not taken in its right value.  It becomes an illusory means, that is, it becomes a means for a pictorial construction.  “Luminism” taken as an essentially pictorial term, that is, as a means of naturalizing the dimensionality of the painting, cannot coincide, as it does not coincide, with the light-building relationship of Borrominian architecture.  Here, in fact, it is a question of inverting the connection: light from an instrument becomes a cause.  Here then is explained the origin before the position not only of Argan but of all contemporary criticism (Muñoz, Sedlmayr etc.).  Once the light is lowered to luminism, once the cause becomes an instrument, one needs to give a purpose to this instrument, and this is

found in what is only consequence: the movement of the mass, the rupture, and ultimately the drama, the tension.  If we reestablish the “real relationship”, this hierarchy of values ​​will present itself in a different way.  Not only that, but we will also have a substantially different characterization of Borromini’s personality, which becomes a personality linked intimately to architecture, intended as the application of scientifically studied and rationally applied problems and technological solutions.  In our opinion, there are very few reasons to speak of the “tormented” Borromini.  Of course, we are well aware that with this we have not exhausted the critical discourse, in reality what we wanted to do here is only the practical verification, through the survey, of the reasons that are traditionally accepted as valid to qualify Borromini.  Although sometimes we have expanded the meaning of this verification to the general discourse it is because, in our opinion, from the relief we can and must pass on to a series of more complex considerations.  The emphasis highlighting the technical fact must be substantiated by the reasons that this underlies.  In this plan, of course, our analysis has a little the value of the “invasion”, but ours, rather than conclusions, are traces, methodological cues which however require further development. 


Very often it happens to the Borromini scholar to detect interventions by foreign operators inserted in various ways in the works of the Maestro.  These interventions, carefully analyzed by us, have shown us even more clearly that characteristic of organic rationality that we have already indicated as peculiar to Borrominian architecture.  The details, in the Borrominian building, are never an end in themselves, but are always related to unity.  So that any foreign element however inserted, either remains completely isolated (so the original unit is never interrupted) or is absorbed by the whole in which it is neutralized.  During the process of the survey carried out by us in the monastery of Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori they discovered and gradually recorded some singular anomalies, of subtle discrepancies between the various parts of the building.  But it was more a question of vague sensations which were however compensated by the total intuition of the monument which proved to be fundamentally harmonious.  At the moment of the graphic reconstruction of the building, the plan revealed the existence of two settings, one extremely linear, the other more flexible and wise: the one that at first it had seemed almost an overlap of two worlds and, continuing the analysis, it revealed itself as a harmonious insertion of a new complex within an existing plot.  The importance of the whole organism is precisely in the knowledge with which Borromini’s rich language has managed to adapt within an obligatory geometric scheme. 

The luxuriant and exuberant life of the church, almost bursting from the limits that enclosed it, tends to concentrate on itself the essential values ​​of the whole plant. Thus that flourishing translates into a centrifugal pressure which shapes the external wall according to its thrust, and this (here is the Borrominian dynamism) loses its value of mere conclusion and transforms itself into a functional element with respect to that thrust.  It should be added in this regard that, unlike other Borrominian constructions, the thrust component is not determined in a unidirectional sense and is distributed equally in all directions.  But the most important observation that our investigations suggest is the following: the geometric repertoire of Borromini does not originate from emptiness; has its root precisely in that primordial geometry of the pre-existing plan. This formidable ability to adapt the Borromini can often mislead those who approach the architectural monument without the aid of historical documents, even pushing them to attribute to Borromini the complete paternity of works that are partially his.  Hence the need to read up on what is also possible in terms of news sources.

As for S.  Maria dei Sette Dolori a review of the rich documentation in the Monastry Archive led us to discover a document that confirms our interpretation, that is to say it appears that Borromini intervened in the factory at a later time, at the invitation of the Count of Carpegna, friend  and benefactor of the Lombard Master, to give a new direction to those works that the client did not see carried out with due skill by another builder, perhaps this master Bartolomeo Checci. 

The original designs by Borromini

In addition to the measurement and graphic representation, the investigation of the environment and all the other interesting research, the survey must not neglect the study of the original drawings that refer to the work, because these offer the possibility of documenting the initial aspects of construction.  Very often any original design is intended as an absolute definition of the work, so that whenever there is a discrepancy between this and the realization, a shadow of doubt is left hanging even on the authorship of the monument or some details of the same.  Those who know the design process deeply are aware of the different value that must be given to these documents which have a relative meaning, which only constitute studies of partial solutions which must be checked from time to time in reality and which are subjected to all reworkings dictated by necessity or inspiration.

This general observation has a particular value for Borromini, whose drawings almost always have a significant meaning because construction projects would be called preparatory studies for scientific research and for a geometric synthesis of spaces.  The absurdity therefore to seek in Borromini’s drawings that correspond to the historically determined solutions it is known that instead of the plastic accurately executed in wax and wood existed which gave the artist the possibility of controlling his inventions on a three-dimensional plane.  On the other hand, the complexity of its spaces would hardly have allowed an effective and vivid graphic representation. As far as the works of Santa Maria del Sette Dolori are concerned, we know that there were many designs that were lost and a wooden model.  (See the notary inventory of Borromini ‘s assets drawn up after the Maestro’ s death).  Only two studies have survived in the Albertina Art Gallery in Vienna.  Analyzing these drawings one immediately notices a clear discrepancy between some details of the graphic scheme and the work made in Rome.  For example, the door designed by Borromini in the ellipsoidal body was never built.  But its location (in the graph) suggests a very different planimetric articulation of the complex that Borromini hypothesized, then replacing it with other solutions.  But isn’t this continuous search for the ideal solution the practice followed by every architect?  On the other hand, studying the monument we must admit that the current arrangement of the door is the best and most valid solution between the possible, and therefore we will have to recognize the existence of the relative executive and definitive design of the work.  The workmanship of the marble exhibits of the door is certainly mediocre but the essential lines clearly recognize the characteristic of the Borrominian design.  Also in the side door, contrary to what traditional critics say, we seemed to recognize some typical motifs of Borrominian architecture, even here, without a doubt, the modification made in the execution of the design does not cancel the characteristics of the master’s architecture Lombard, which continue to leak despite the deformation.


Description of the work

The land on which the monastery stands is irregular in shape with only two parallel sides. It is located on the slopes of the Janiculum, along the lonely Via Garibaldi which connects Porta Settimiana with the Church of S.  Pietro in Montorio.  Access to the monastery is only possible from via Garibaldi and takes place through a large portal equipped with a splendid gate, probably made on a design by Borromini.  The vast space in front of the building is completely isolated from the environment by means of a high fence wall which follows the course of the road to the north – east, while to the north – west it limits other properties.  The main facade of the monastery has only the wall structure and is devoid of decorations.  The large brick wall curves in the central part and adheres to a cylindrical surface whose more protruding generators are connected to the lateral wings of the facade by means of the extension of two radial planes. 

The lowered vault is characteristic of other Norse Borromean works.  The shape of the chapels is linked to that of the ellipsoidal elements of the main facade.  The main altar originally had the rearmost wall and the sacristy was accessed directly from the choir.  The portico consists of a series of vaulted covered spans, whose external arches have been closed and the openings replaced by doors; a goggle window illuminates the rooms located along the porch.  We conclude by noting that inside the monastery there is a fountain that was probably made on the original design of Borromini, “although in the execution it was considerably simplified and altered”. 

Some documents on the construction of the Church –

Act of appraisal of the factory (kept in the Convent Archive).  From the document drawn up on 3 August 1646 we learn the name of the builder – master Bartolomeo Checci and c.  – and that of the Architect:.  .  .  the factory was designed, ordered and managed by the very illustrious Mr.  Francesco Borromini (sic) Architect.  .  .  .  In the same document are reported the clàusole related to the conduct of the work whose administrative direction is entrusted to two experts: the architect Del Grande trusted by the client Camilla Virginia Savelli Farnese and Mr.  Domenico De Quartis trusted by the manufacturer. 

– The first state of progress of the works bears the date of 29 September 1646 and the only signature of the architect Del Grande.  (attached to the estimate).  – On 29 November 1618, the internal plastering work of the Church was entrusted.  (contract preserved in the archives of the monastery) – On November 15, 1658 the construction work of the monastery was entrusted to the chief master Marcantonio.  (contract kept in the archives of the Monastery, – According to the state of progress on 8 July 1662 2 November 1663 – 22 October 1665 – 26 January 1667 the stonecutter works were carried out under the direction of the architect Contini (executor Vincenzo  Guidozzi) .These works include those relating to the construction of the marble frames of the external doors which were therefore made before Borromini’s death, – There are also some diary pages and various fragmentary writings, without any reference, which still provide data  fundamentals on the origin of the building From the purchase of the land it is deduced that the land purchased by Camilla Virginia Savelli Farnese was not free of real estate even if there were some unimportant constructions

Some considerations on the building

The vestibule, although perfectly coherent to the facade of the church, it fulfills a particular role which is that of mediator of the pre-existing constraint is the new concept.

It is a pivot of a geometric order, with a substantially compositional function, which once again demonstrates how Borrominian architecture always translates into different original solutions depending on the environmental situations.  The church with a longitudinal scheme looks like a vast room, whose elements coincide with the spirituality of the place, but particularly of the time.  The band that surrounds the whole church internally at a certain height, linking, so to speak, all the individual parts and following the architectural motifs plastically, goes around the niches of the altars, bypasses the classic moldings added and resolves into elaborate designs.  Its value, as it is easy to conclude, consists above all in accentuating the plasticity of the architectural structure by drawing.  Once again, therefore pictorial »and« plastic »find themselves inserted in a subtle game of interdependence and pass between each other.  In the plan of the church we discover the meaning of geometry in Borrominian architecture.  It turns out that that is strongly character “centralized” of the geometric pattern that does not, however, presents as a whole unit, but it develops hierarchically according to an analytical process of geometric values.  Thus a scale is formed in which the values ​​arise almost by budding, without autonomous life but despite everything they are identified, without a single scheme that reabsorbs them. 

On this scheme which, as can be seen, focuses on articulation rather than unity is the profound sense of the syntactic order and consequent refusal of a parallel periodic by juxtaposition.  It is in a way the return to a courtly style, to that courtlyness typical of the classical world, which loves a rigid pre-established hierarchy and rejects as unnatural a mixture of orders and therefore of styles.  But from the classical scheme it differs in its realistic attitude.  Furthermore, the rigidly monochromatic conception, which results in a constant use of white, with its pivoting essentially on the drawing, entails a severe geometrization, also accentuating its scientific rigor.  Ultimately therefore from the plan of the church it is possible to draw those conclusions that we had anticipated.  During the survey procedure we discovered (but more than discovered it was confirmation), how the work is greatly facilitated by the constant recurrence of the reasons.  A precise calculation, a series of perfectly established and definable, almost schematizable occurrences are the work of a rational mentality that organizes its creation in such a way that every single apparently “bizarre” will is never left to the mind, but it is the result of a calculation;  once analyzed, an indentation serves as a model for all analogues.

The perspective in Borromini

 A problem of considerable importance for the interpretation of seventeenth-century architecture is that of the so-called scenographic and illusionistic aspects of the Baroque. 

The resources of perspective that architects of the time often make use of are not intended as a means of expanding the space.  If in painting and scenography perspective resources can create a dimensional illusion, architecture cannot aspire to these results because it allows such an experience of space to make those illusions absurd.  Rather, one should speak of optical corrections, and understand them as artifices that want to conceive matter and as elements of the total harmony of the building.  Borromini made use of the perspective games also in a scenographic and illusionistic sense, but only when the composition is exclusively a function of the vision, that is when the spaces beyond which the prospective escapes are prolonged cannot be controlled or enjoyed from man.  But when Borromini conceives an organism, he leaves these amusing games to introduce a wide range of corrections expressed in the most different ways: from the correction of the planes to the chiaroscuro accentuation of some elements, to the skilful orchestration of the rhythms.  We have an interesting example in the church of Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori.  In this the frame surrounding the environment follows a plan which in some moments abandons verticality to move freely in space.  Here the optical correction allows the achievement of an extraordinary dynamic effect. 


The series of concepts that we have limited to mention here, some generic and partial settings as they are above all adhering to a single moment of the Borrominian architectural work, the richness of the motifs, the vastness of the problems, all of this sharpens the desire for a total re-examination of the Borrominian work which, however, is complete in all its many aspects.  In the first place, the concrete relationship that exists between a certain professional practice and the culture of a period which, in the case of the Counter-Reformation, is particularly complex, will need to be reviewed. 

But this is also the problem of a more just collaboration of the architect in a given social structure.  After all, that mastery of technical means with all the features that we have tried to highlight, with the full potential of the ability to adapt a solution, whatever it may be, to natural and environmental needs, all of this is a fact to be reckoned with.  what indicates to us that in this period a new figure is emerging, never seen before, in the field of architecture: the technician, the professional.  We are in the phase in which the company is completely specializing, in which the individual disciplines detach themselves from a common matrix, from an undifferentiated philosophy, and the individual arts similarly leave the artisan level, to become technical – professional specializations.  Borromini is this new bourgeois world, with its new needs, with the new problems of technology and industrial production.  If you really want to talk about dramaticity in the figure of the Lombard Master, you must not see it only in his historical figure, on the contrary this dramaticity is the atmosphere of an era, it is a clash between an impossible return to a universal hegemony of Catholicism, and a secular, scientific, naturalistic and rationalistic culture.  In Borromini this clash is implied, but in his school he will become a driver. But precisely in this implication, in our opinion, the particular value of his work is to be sought.  Developing now the one, now the other of the two strands in struggle, we arrive at those opposite characterizations that criticism has always unilaterally determined.  In conclusion, in our opinion, it is a matter of grasping that subtle transition, or rather better that coexistence, unaware if you want, but always present, so from time to time Borromini brought to the architectural field what science was elaborating or is the bearer of a religiosity, rich but artificial, grandiose but crystallized, ultimately always superficial.  With this we are well aware that we have not exhausted what could be said about Borrominian architecture.  Our work in fact finding its essential pivot in the analysis of the survey cannot by its nature invade the fields of other disciplines.  It cannot broaden its considerations beyond the general level of an analysis of language.  But even if our study is necessarily limited, it is not totally devoid of interest for specialists from other disciplines.  For the historian of art, for the historian of culture, for the scholar in general, who addresses the architectural phenomenon non-professionally, the contribution that can be made from the architectural survey is remarkable.  In fact, it offers the material that cannot be ignored, it constitutes the direct documentation of the rise of the work.

is evident his contribution in cases where we do not own the original drawings, but also when, as in the case of Borromini, we have these documents, the graphic representation, while losing the charm of the original design, does not diminish in importance, since  it is a continuous and braking reference to the positivity of the architectural work;  it is, as we have said before, a brake on arbitrary subjectivisms and, at the same time, an incentive for an objective, cold, punctual, analytical and ultimately scientific analysis. 

Many times we have sustained the need for the architect to have valid collaborators in his work in the figures of the sociologist, the politician, the trade unionist, the pedagogist of the psychologist.  But of course collaboration is a reversible phenomenon: the architect contributes to the construction of the whole complex of human knowledge.  For this reason, we love to believe that our work transcends the limits we have set: the relief, from a simple graphic representation, passes seamlessly into the most serious and complex problems of an era and, contributing to the formation of a scientific mentality, is projected from the analysis of the past in the problems of the present, in the programs of the future.

(Thsi book has been translated by the StorpWeber)

July 5, 2020