Post 276 – by Gautam Shah
A passage is narrow space, defined by its consistent sides. Its linearity endows a sense of discipline and directional movement. Long processions have been part of ancient rituals, and the paths for it are defined by curbs, barricades, intermittent flag-masts, columns, statues or obelisks. The top side was bridged with buntings or hangings. Additional markings for passages were formed through steps and ramps or fronting objects like a building, gate or natural objects like a hill or mountain top.
The megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange in Ireland covers over an acre and was constructed around 3200 B.C. It has a long passageway formed by the side wall. At the winter solstice, the rising sun shines down the long passage and lights up a cross-shaped chamber.
Egyptian Labyrinth whose only literary reference is by 1st C BC Greek geographer both had called it a great palace composed of many palaces. In front of the entrances are crypts, long and numerous winding passages communicating with one another. Egyptian temples had axial passages, stretching almost infinitely in front. Pyramids have had inclined passages, some leading nowhere.
Secret passages, also commonly referred to as hidden routes for stealthy travel, usually for emergency escape. The route, its entry and exit point, all require careful planning, construction, upkeep and secrecy.
Passages have occurred due to sheer massive movement of people. Roman amphitheatres and stadiums were designed for efficient ingress and egress of audiences. Entrance arches (marked by number) lead to a corridor that ran uninterruptedly around the building. The corridor led to staircases and passages to sections of seats. The passages were called the Vomitorium (plural: vomitoria). These were situated below or behind the tiers of seats through which the crowds could spew out at the end of a performance.
Buildings of Medieval and Renaissance period, mostly followed the Roman dwellings, with entry through Andito (small entrance area) or vestibule leading to a hall or courtyard. The courtyards were more prominent in Southern Europe but did not distribute the entry to rooms. Rooms were accessed from one to another. The courtyard and the corridor came together in southern monasteries, to create all sided circulatory space.
Vatican has a passage that is similar to Vasari Florence corridor. The Passetto di Borgo, or simply Passetto, is an elevated passage that links the Vatican City with the Castel Sant’Angelo. It is an approximately 800-m long corridor.
Buildings of Medieval and later period began to reform the entry spaces, or more specifically the ‘Halls’ into longer passages or long halls. The longer hall allowed several branch corridors or even rooms. The corridor was a long interior space, which needed illumination, ventilation and in colder climate warming up. It was a dreaded space, often haunted due to its capacity to prolong the reverberation. Yet, it was a preferred style of space. The gallery built by Francesco Borromini in 1635 Palazzo Spada, in Rome was, for a corridor much shorter. It sculpture much smaller. It was a false corridor of an optical illusion in only 8.5 mts of depth.