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Allowing daylight into an attic that needs it can be achieved in two ways: by dormers on the sides or, if it has a gable end, by a window in the gable. What shape should this window take? A triangle like the gable, to fit effortlessly? Or some composition that is basically triangular like the so-called Palladio window?
As one walks on one of Evanston‘s single-family residential streets, where most of the houses were built around the turn of the 19th century, one will often notice a triple window high at the gable end of the roof. The center pane is taller than the two on its side and is often arched. thus forming a kind of triangle that fits nicely under the gable. We architects call these “Palladio windows.” [FIG A]
The Italian architect whose name is used for such a window was Andrea Palladio, who lived in the 16th century (1511-1592) in Vicenza, at that time part of the republic of Venice. Palladio was the designer of the Basilica in Vicenza, a two-story structure surrounded on both floors by an arcade, the exterior of which consists of a series of arched bays resting on columns that separate the central bay from smaller ones on each side. [FIG B]
Many Italian architects used this configuration, among them Giulio Romano on the Palazzo del Te (Mantua), Jacopo Sansovino on the Library (Venice) and Giorgio Vasari on the Palazzo Uffizi (Florence) to mention a few. Obviously the most successful was Palladio himself on his Villa Giulia in Rome.
The Palladio window has undergone quite a metamorphosis in the hands of builders more or less sensitive. Evanston‘s residential neighborhoods contain a large number of variations, some sensitively done, some less so, available for observation on a walk or drive. I hope you will find many of them and exercise your own judgment.