Belonging to the Individual or the Collective? The Urban Residence as a Public/Private Building in Renaissance Italy (1300-1500)
Keywords:urban residences, renaissance italy, citizenship, urban community, political community, belonging, ownership, public, private
This article explores the public/private character of the urban residences of the social and political elite in Renaissance Italy. The public-private dichotomy is not understood here in terms of accessibility or openness, but in terms of ownership and belonging. Although the residence was owned by the private family, it also belonged to the urban and civic community, as well as the communal authorities. Praise for urban residences in written sources are both an expression and an active contribution to this phenomenon. Such praise presented urban residences as ornaments of the city that made a fundamental contribution to its splendour and beauty. Urban residences also assumed an increasingly prominent position in the urban fabric, along those roads that the political authorities developed into the representational face of the city. Finally, financing mechanisms led to a more ambiguous status of the urban residence as a public/private building. In several cities, communal authorities financed, in part or in full, the construction of such buildings. By exploring the public/private character of urban residential architecture in Renaissance Italy in terms of ownership and belonging, this article contributes to the many studies that have already explored this topic, but mainly in terms of design and use.
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