is a type of house that was originally an ancient Roman upper-class
country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa
, the idea and function of a villa has evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic
, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity
, sometimes transferred to the Church for reuse as a monastery
. Then they gradually re-evolved through the Middle Ages
into elegant upper-class country homes. In modern parlance, "villa" can refer to various types and sizes of residences, ranging from the suburban semi-detached
double villa to residences in the wildland–urban interface
- the villa urbana, a country seat that could easily be reached from Rome or another city for a night or two
- the villa rustica, the farm-house estate that was permanently occupied by the servants who had charge generally of the estate, which would centre on the villa itself, perhaps only seasonally occupied. The Roman villae rusticae at the heart of latifundia were the earliest versions of what later and elsewhere became called plantations.
Not included as villae
were the domus
, city houses for the élite and privileged classes, and the insulae
, blocks of apartment buildings
for the rest of the population. In Satyricon
(1st century CE), Petronius
described the wide range of Roman dwellings. Another type of villae is the "villa maritima", a seaside villa, located on the coast.
There was an important villa maritima in Barcola
near Trieste. This villa was located directly on the coast and was divided into terraces in a representation area in which luxury and power was displayed, a separate living area, a garden, some facilities open to the sea and a thermal bath. Not far from this noble place, which was already popular with the Romans because of its favorable microclimate, one of the most important Villa Maritima of its time, the Miramare Castle
, was built in the 19th century.
Wealthy Romans also escaped the summer heat in the hills round Rome, especially around Tibur (Tivoli
), such as at Hadrian's Villa
allegedly possessed no fewer than seven villas, the oldest of which was near Arpinum
, which he inherited. Pliny the Younger
had three or four, of which the example near Laurentium is the best known from his descriptions.
Roman writers refer with satisfaction to the self-sufficiency of their latifundium
villas, where they drank their own wine
and pressed their own oil
. This was an affectation of urban aristocrats playing at being old-fashioned virtuous Roman farmers, it has been said that the economic independence of later rural villas was a symptom of the increasing economic fragmentation of the Roman Empire
In Roman Britannia
Archaeologists have meticulously examined numerous Roman villas
Like their Italian counterparts, they were complete working agrarian societies of fields and vineyards
, perhaps even tileworks
, ranged round a high-status power centre with its baths and gardens. The grand villa at Woodchester
preserved its mosaic
floors when the Anglo-Saxon
parish church was built (not by chance) upon its site. Grave-diggers preparing for burials in the churchyard as late as the 18th century had to punch through the intact mosaic floors. The even more palatial villa rustica
was built (uncharacteristically) as a large open rectangle, with porticos
enclosing gardens entered through a portico. Towards the end of the 3rd century, Roman towns in Britain
ceased to expand: like patricians near the centre of the empire, Roman Britons withdrew from the cities to their villas, which entered on a palatial building phase, a "golden age" of villa life. Villae rusticae
are essential in the Empire's economy.
Two kinds of villa-plan in Roman Britain may be characteristic of Roman villas in general. The more usual plan extended wings of rooms all opening onto a linking portico, which might be extended at right angles, even to enclose a courtyard
. The other kind featured an aisled central hall like a basilica
, suggesting the villa owner's magisterial role. The villa buildings were often independent structures linked by their enclosed courtyards. Timber-framed
construction, carefully fitted with mortises and tenons
together, set on stone footings, were the rule, replaced by stone buildings for the important ceremonial rooms. Traces of window glass
have been found, as well as ironwork window grilles
Monastery villas of Late Antiquity
With the decline and collapse
of the Western Roman Empire
in the fourth and fifth centuries, the villas were more and more isolated and came to be protected by walls. In England the villas were abandoned, looted
, and burned by Anglo-Saxon
invaders in the fifth century, but the concept of an isolated, self-sufficient agrarian working community, housed close together, survived into Anglo-Saxon culture as the vill
, with its inhabitants – if formally bound to the land – as villeins
In post-Roman times a villa
referred to a self-sufficient, usually fortified Italian or Gallo-Roman
farmstead. It was economically as self-sufficient as a village
and its inhabitants, who might be legally tied to it as serfs
. The Merovingian Franks
inherited the concept, followed by the Carolingian French but the later French term was basti
(or its cognates) is part of many Spanish and Portuguese placenames, like Vila Real
: a villa
is a town with a charter
) of lesser importance than a ciudad
("city"). When it is associated with a personal name, villa
was probably used in the original sense of a country estate rather than a chartered town. Later evolution has made the Hispanic distinction between villas
a purely honorific one. Madrid
is the Villa y Corte
, the villa considered to be separate from the formerly mobile royal court
, but the much smaller Ciudad Real
was declared ciudad
by the Spanish crown.
From Tuscany the idea of villa
was spread again through Renaissance Italy
Tuscan villa gardens
The Villas are grouped into an association (Associazione Ville Venete) and offer touristic itineraries and accommodation possibilities.
18th and 19th centuries
In the early 18th century the English took up the term, and applied it to compact houses in the country,
especially those accessible from London: Chiswick House
is an example of such a "party villa". Thanks to the revival of interest in Palladio and Inigo Jones
, soon Neo-Palladian
villas dotted the valley of the River Thames
and English countryside. Marble Hill House
in England was conceived originally as a "villa" in the 18th-century sense.
In many ways the late 18th century Monticello
, by Thomas Jefferson
, United States is a Palladian Revival
villa. Other examples of the period and style are Hammond-Harwood House
in Annapolis, Maryland
; and many pre-American Civil War
or Antebellum Plantations
, such as Westover Plantation
and many other James River plantations
as well dozens of Antebellum era plantations
in the rest of the Old South
functioned as the Roman Latifundium
villas had. A later revival, in the Gilded Age
and early 20th century, produced The Breakers
in Newport, Rhode Island
in Woodside, California
, and Dumbarton Oaks
in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
; by architects-landscape architects such as Richard Morris Hunt
, Willis Polk
, and Beatrix Farrand
In the nineteenth century, the term villa
was extended to describe any large suburban
house that was free-standing in a landscaped
plot of ground. By the time 'semi-detached villas' were being erected at the turn of the twentieth century, the term collapsed under its extension and overuse.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw the creation of large "Villenkolonien" in the German speaking countries, wealthy residential areas that were completely made up of large mansion houses and often built to an artfully created masterplan. Also many large mansions for the wealthy German industrialists were built, such as Villa Hügel
. The Villenkolonie of Lichterfelde West
in Berlin was conceived after an extended trip by the architect through the South of England. Representative historicist
mansions in Germany include the Heiligendamm
and other resort architecture
mansions at the Baltic Sea, Rose Island
and King's House on Schachen
in the Bavarian Alps
, Villa Dessauer
, Villa Wahnfried
, Hammerschmidt Villa
, the Liebermann Villa
and Britz House
in Berlin, Albrechtsberg
, Eckberg, Villa Stockhausen and Villa San Remo [de]
, Villa Waldberta [de]
, Villa Kennedy [de]
, Jenisch House
, Villa Andreae [de]
and Villa Rothschild [de; ar; fr]
, Villa Stuck
and Pacelli-Palais [de]
, Schloss Klink
at Lake Müritz
, Villa Ludwigshöhe
, Villa Haux
and Weinberg House
During the 19th and 20th century, the term "villa" became widespread for detached mansions in Europe. Special forms are for instance spa villas
in German) and seaside villas
in German), that became especially popular at the end of the 19th century. The tradition established back then continued throughout the 20th century and even until today.
Another trend was the erection of rather minimalist mansions in the Bauhaus
style since the 1920s, that also continues until today.
The popularity of Mediterranean Revival architecture
in its various iterations over the last century has been consistently used in that region and in Florida
. Just a few of the notable early architects were Wallace Neff
, Addison Mizner
, Stanford White
, and George Washington Smith
. A few examples are the Harold Lloyd Estate
in Beverly Hills, California
, Medici scale Hearst Castle
on the Central Coast of California
, and Villa Montalvo
in the Santa Cruz Mountains
of Saratoga, California
, Villa Vizcaya
in Coconut Grove, Miami
, American Craftsman
versions are the Gamble House
and the villas by Greene and Greene
in Pasadena, California
In Indonesia, the term "villa" is applied to Dutch colonial country houses (landhuis). Nowadays, the term is more popularly applied to vacation rental usually located in countryside area.
In Australia, "villas" or "villa units" are terms used to describe a type of townhouse
complex which contains, possibly smaller attached or detached houses of up to 3–4 bedrooms that were built since the early 1980s.
In Cambodia, "villa" is used as a loanword in the local language of Khmer, and is generally used to describe any type of detached townhouse that features yard space. The term doesn't apply to any particular architectural style or size, the only features that distinguish a Khmer villa from another building are the yard space and being fully detached. The terms "twin-villa" and "mini-villa" have been coined meaning semi-detached and smaller versions respectively. Generally, these would be more luxurious and spacious houses than the more common row houses. The yard space would also typically feature some form of garden, trees or greenery. Generally, these would be properties in major cities, where there is more wealth and hence more luxurious houses.
- ^ Zeno Saracino: “Pompei in miniatura”: la storia di “Vallicula” o Barcola. In: Trieste All News. 29 September 2018.
- ^ List of Roman villas in England.
- ^ Hakasalmi Villa
- ^ Villa
- ^ These are not to be confused with the English country houses, which were centres of political and cultural power and show surrounded by the estates that supported them, such as Holkham Hall, Alnwick Castle or Woburn Abbey; in Ireland Castletown House and Russborough House are comparable examples.
- ^ Sir John Summerson, Architecture in Britain, 1530 to 1830: ch. 22 "Palladian permeation: the villa" provides a standard overview of the building type.
- ^ Klaus F. Müller: Park und Villa Haas – Historismus, Kunst und Lebensstil. Verlag Edition Winterwork, 2012, ISBN 978-3-86468-160-8.
Last edited on 8 June 2021, at 05:38
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