Filippo Juvarra or Juvara was an Italian architect and set designer, one of the leading exponents of the Baroque, who worked for years in Turin as an architect of the House of Savoy.
The formation of the young Juvarra took place in his hometown, where he studied architecture on the treatises and worked as a set designer and silversmith. His first architectural work was the completion, in 1703, of the Church of San Gregorio, now disappeared, for which he designed the internal arrangement including the construction of the choir and the high altar.
He moved to Rome in 1704, where he was a pupil of Carlo Fontana and Francesco Fontana and where he also met Giuseppe Merenda. In 1705, after only eight months of stay in Rome, he obtained a resounding success in the architectural drawing competition of the Accademia di San Luca, which marked the beginning of his independent activity.
Employed as a theatrical architect by cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (nephew of Alexander VIII and one of the most important patrons of the period), Juvarra struggled to find great commissions in Rome; in fact, only the small chapel of Antamori in San Gerolamo della Carità (1708-1710), decorated with a statue of San Filippo Neri by Pierre Legros, can be dated to the early Roman years.
In Rome he dedicated himself with perseverance to the study of ancient architecture, but also to those of Michelangelo, Bernini, Borromini, Pietro da Cortona and Andrea Pozzo. The result of this ten-year study is a large body of drawings.
In the following years some buildings designed for Lucca date back, such as the Palazzo della Repubblica and some villas in the countryside (Villa Garzoni in Collodi and Villa Mansi in Segromigno). He was also involved in a project for the altars of San Martino, in Naples.
In 1715 Juvarra participated, together with Nicola Michetti, Antonio Canevari, Lelio Cosatti and others in the competition for the sacristy of the Basilica of San Pietro. The success was unanimous, but the project (of which remains a model, in poor condition, in the deposits of the Basilica) was never put in place for the costs too high (the current sacristy is later and was planned under Pope Pius VI by Carlo Marchionni).
Equally miserable was another Roman stay, that of 1735. The façade of San Giovanni in Laterano, for which Juvarra had prepared some "sketches" and freehand drawings, was in fact built by Alessandro Galilei (1735), after a competition who saw him excel, to be a fellow citizen of the Florentine Pope Clemente XII, on Luigi Vanvitelli, Nicola Salvi, author of the Fontana di Trevi, Ferdinando Fuga, and Ludovico Rusconi Sassi, and after that Juvarra was invited to participate in the comparison only as a judge.
A few years later, when he was already at the service of the Savoy, Juvarra was called to Lisbon by John V of Portugal to design a new royal palace annexed to a grandiose patriarchal basilica, but even this project was not realized.
Already in 1714 Juvarra had become the trusted architect of Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy, who, for a short period, had also obtained the crown of King of Sicily and who called him back to Messina for unfinished projects.
Having exchanged the crown of Sicily with that of Sardinia, the king settled again in Turin and employed Juvarra in a grandiose project of urban redevelopment for the capital of the new kingdom. Many were the works of those years; among those of religious architecture, in 1720, the last 12 meters of the bell tower of the Duomo, the facade of the church of Santa Cristina in Piazza San Carlo (inspired by the Roman San Marcello al Corso, by Carlo Fontana (1715), the Basilica of Superga, one of his masterpieces, built by the king between 1716 and 1731 to dissolve a vote, the churches of San Filippo Neri and del Carmine (fourth decade of the century), Sant'Andrea a Chieri (1728, gone destroyed) and a series of grandiose projects, with a central and longitudinal plan, for a new cathedral in Turin.
Among the civil buildings we must remember the grandiose drawings for a real crown of palaces that surrounds the capital, including the castle of Rivoli (1718, unfinished), which was supposed to dominate an imposing garden made of terraces on several levels, the Palazzina of hunting of Stupinigi (1727), from the original oval plant that expands to "X" towards the gardens, and the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale, with the aerial "Grande Galleria" and the church of Sant'Uberto.
The façade of Palazzo Madama in Piazza Castello dates back to 1718, inspired by the back side of Versailles, fragment of an ambitious program of monumental renewal of the ancient city center. During the first two decades of the 18th century, Juvarra worked on the expansion of Borgo Castello in the park of La Mandria.
The architect is also responsible for the districts of Via del Carmine-Corso Valdocco (1716-1728) and Via Milano-Piazza Emanuele Filiberto (1729-1733).
The project of the dome of the Basilica of Sant'Andrea in Mantua is dated to 1734, to complete one of the most important works of Leon Battista Alberti, one of the greatest architects and humanists of the Renaissance. The dome incorporates, in the four diagonal pylons at Croce di Sant'Andrea, the plant of that of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte del Borromini, reported in much larger forms.
In Lombardy, Juvarra also designed a monumental high altar for the Sanctuary of Caravaggio (not completed and replaced by a more modest project by the Milanese Carlo Giuseppe Merlo) and the altar of the Saints Fermo, Rustico and Procolo in the Duomo of Bergamo.
In 1735 the king of Spain Philip V requested a project by Juvarra for the new royal palace. The Sicilian architect then moved to the Spanish capital, where he designed a monumental and grandiose building once again inspired by the palace of Versailles. Also this time the juvarriano project, too expensive, was not realized; only after the architect's death, his assistant Giovanni Battista Sacchetti built a building that resumed some stylistic characteristics, but radically changed the system, reducing it to a nearly square building, without the vast side wings that would have dilated expanding into the garden area.
In Spain, Juvarra had also provided numerous drawings for the construction of the royal palace of the Granja de San Ildefonso, also near Madrid.
In Belluno one finds one of the most elegant bell towers in Italy, that of the cathedral. It was designed by Juvarra and built between 1732 and 1743: it measures 71.98 meters and cost a total of 150,000 Venetian lire. On the onion spire stands a wooden angel, 4.63 meters high (already included in the height of the bell tower).
However, after ten months of intense work, during which he also took care of the palace of Aranjuez and the Granja of San Ildefonso, he died in Madrid on 31 January 1736, at the age of fifty-eight, caught pneumonia while he was dedicating himself to the last stages. of the project of the royal palace, which was realized in a reduced version and with substantial modifications by his student GB Sacchetti.