Raffaello Sanzio de Urbino
Artist / Architect

Born: 6 April 1483
Died: 6 April 1520

Birthplace: Urbino, Duchy of Urbino (Italy)
Best known as: High Renaissance painter of The School of Athens

Raphael, like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most famous artists of Italy's High Renaissance and one of the greatest influences in the history of Western art. Immensely talented, he first studied with his father and then as an assistant to the great master Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino. Raphael (also known as Raffaello Sanzio) worked in Florence (1504) and earned a reputation as a productive and much-admired painter before going to Rome sometime after 1508. In Rome he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to create the large-scale fresco The School of Athens, as well as other decorative work at the Vatican. Raphael also took over as architect of St. Peter's after the death of Donato Bramante (1514), contributed ten tapestries to the Sistine Chapel and painted some of the most prized and reproduced holy pictures of the era, including The Sistine Madonna and Transfiguration. His work is often cited for its harmony and balance of composition, and his early death (on his 37th birthday) is considered by many experts to be one of the great tragedies of art history.

Christopher Wren (1632 - 1723)

Christopher Wren by Sir Godfrey Kneller ©

Christopher Wren by Sir Godfrey Kneller ©


"Wren was an English scientist and mathematician and one of Britain's most distinguished architects, best known for the design of many London churches, including St Paul's Cathedral.
Christopher Wren was born on 20 October 1632 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, where his father was rector. His father later moved to Windsor and Wren was educated at Westminster School and then Oxford University. He showed an early talent for mathematics and enjoyed inventing things, including an instrument for writing in the dark and a pneumatic machine. In 1657, Wren was appointed professor of astronomy at Gresham College in London and four years later, professor of astronomy at Oxford. In 1662, he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society, along with other mathematicians, scientists and scholars, many of whom were his friends.
Wren's interest in architecture developed from his study of physics and engineering. In 1664 and 1665, Wren was commissioned to design the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford and a chapel for Pembroke College, Cambridge and from then on, architecture was his main focus. In 1665, Wren visited Paris, where he was strongly influenced by French and Italian baroque styles.
In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the medieval city, providing a huge opportunity for Wren. He produced ambitious plans for rebuilding the whole area but they were rejected, partly because property owners insisted on keeping the sites of their destroyed buildings. Wren did design 51 new city churches, as well as the new St Paul's Cathedral. In 1669, he was appointed surveyor of the royal works which effectively gave him control of all government building in the country. He was knighted in 1673.
In 1675, Wren was commissioned to design the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. In 1682, he received another royal commission, to design a hospital in Chelsea for retired soldiers, and in 1696 a hospital for sailors in Greenwich. Other buildings include Trinity College Library in Cambridge (1677 - 1692), and the facade of Hampton Court Palace (1689 - 1694). Wren often worked with the same team of craftsmen, including master plasterer John Groves and wood carver Grinling Gibbons
Wren died on 25 February 1723. His gravestone in St Paul's Cathedral features the Latin inscription which translates as: 'If you seek his memorial, look about you.'"

Be sure to click the picture below.

Using Balance To Create Interesting Structures

Essentially there are two types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. In architecture, symmetrical balance refers to buildings that have equal elements and features on both sides of a central point. An equal number of doors, windows, roof gables, shutters, and so on is found in each section. The mass or weight of each section would be the same as well.


Asymmetrical balance refers to architecture that has an unequal balance. There is an uneven number of elements on each side of the imaginary line. One half of the building is very different than the other half.


As you walk down the street, notice which buildings demonstrate symmetrical balance and which demonstrate asymmetrical balance. What building elements help you decide? How does the balance used suit each building's purpose?

China and Japan

In The Story of Architecture read pages 101-109.