Baroque Architecture

  • Sylvie DuvernoyEmail author
Living reference work entry


The Baroque approach to geometry is challenging and playful. Complex shapes are experimented with and new layouts are designed, giving birth to dynamic and fluid spaces. Baroque architecture makes use of curves, curved spaces, and undulating walls. Some daring interpretations in the use of the classical orders are visible in façade design, and Baroque designers play with classical design rules. The Renaissance was the time in which rules were established and applied, and Baroque is the time when shape grammars are enriched with new forms.

Guarino Guarini, one of the main Italian architects of the High Baroque period, wrote in his treatise: “Architecture may modify ancient rules, and invent new ones” (Guarini (1737) L’Architettura civile. Torino). This approach toward tradition and classical culture leads designers and artists to innovate in all fields. Church design – for instance – evolved from the concept of centrality to the notion of “elongated centrality”; from a square or circular to an oval plan diagram. In the meantime, perspective representation evolved to trompe-loeil and anamorphosis.

“Baroque” can also be an epithet which is sometimes used in a deprecatory sense, meaning an excess of decoration or ineffective complexity. This is an incorrect understanding of the early and High Baroque styles which are, on the contrary, very elegant and balanced, even when dealing with sophisticated geometrical patterns.


Vignola Borromini Bernini Guarini Ellipse Oval Oval domes Spiral Trompe-loeil Anamorphosis 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politecnico di MilanoMilanItaly

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