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Architecture Theory - VITRUVIUS

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Joan Aref

on 8 November 2014

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Transcript of Architecture Theory - VITRUVIUS

Architecture Theory

c.90-20 BC, Rome, Italy.

Vitruvius’ triade

The Vitruvian triade explaining architectural quality as a wholeness consisting of an interplay between :
firmitas (
), utilitas (
) and venustas (
Is about the building's

As an example Vitruvius describes the importance of having the
carried down to solid ground, and the selection of good
that are suited for the purpose are also pointed out as important.
In the current use of Vitruvius' concept, this has been expanded to address all the issues that are of importance to the
physical durability
of the architecture.
addresses the issues that are of importance to the functionality of architecture. In the current understanding of the concept it address the buildings' ability to respond to the needs from the actual users and from the surrounding community. Are users' needs met in the building? Are the building organized and arranged to form an efficient framework for its intended purpose? Thus, it also becomes crucial whether the building responds to current idea of
'the good life'
In Morgan's translation of Vitruvius, the concept is explained as follows: “
convenience, when the arrangement of the apartments is faultless and presents no hindrance to use, and when each class of building is assigned to its suitable and appropriate exposure
" (Morgan 1960, p.17).
Is about architectural
, which in Vitruvius' classical universe meant the

building's ability to mime
(from the Greek: 'mimesis')
natural cosmic order

Vitruvius believed that nature is an expression of cosmic order based on universal laws, and he believed, that architectural quality is achieved when the architectural design based on these laws - and when architecture thereby 'mimic' natural cosmic order.

In a more contemporary understanding of the concept, it is about architecture's spatial and beauty conditions - proportions, the play between

light and shadow, the contrasts between heaviness and lightness, textural qualities, structural patterns, rhythm
, etc
Vitruvius’ work

This building is the only structure known to have been designed by the great Roman engineer and author, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.

No remains of the basilica have survived to the present day; nonetheless, we know a lot about the structure because Vitruvius described it in some detail in his treatise de Architectura. This building is representative of the Roman basilica form–a vast open hall, covered with a roof supported on long-span timber trusses.
The Basilica at Ordona comes very close to the Vitruvian principles.
It was build during the reign of Augustus, at the end of the 1st century BC or the beginning of the 1st century AD
So the building time corresponds roughly with the supposed date of the 'De Architectur'
The basilica is situated at the edge of the forum, and terraced into a slope from west to east.
The outer measurements are 144 x 96 (roman) feet or (
42,65 x 28,43
) m.
This gives a proportion of
, which is almost similar to the Vitruvian Basilica at Fano.
The Basilica at Ordona
ittle is known of Vitruvius' life, except what can be gathered from his writings, which are somewhat obscure on the subject.

Although he nowhere identifies the emperor to whom his work is dedicated, it is likely that the first Augustus is meant and that the treatise was conceived after 27 BC. Since Vitruvius describes himself as an old man, it may be inferred that he was also active during the time of Julius Caesar.
(Ten Books on Architecture)
which carefully described existing practices, not only in the design and construction of buildings, but also in what are today thought of as engineering disciplines.

His writing is prescriptive and gives direct advice:

"I have drawn up definite rules to enable you, by observing them, to have personal knowledge of the quality both of existing buildings and of those which are yet to be constructed."
(Preface, Book I, Morgan's translation).

His writings were addressed to Caesar in an attempt to inform the Emperor on the subject of architecture so that he might make informed decisions concerning the construction of public buildings.
Vitruvius' wish was to preserve the classical tradition in the design of temples and public buildings, and his prefaces to the separate books of his treatise contain many pessimistic remarks about contemporary architecture.

Vitruvius' expressed desire that his name be honored by posterity was realized and his advice was followed for centuries, Throughout the antique revival of the
, the classical phase of the
, and in the
Neoclassical period.

His work was the chief authority on ancient classical architecture.

However, it is important to recall that Vitruvius' three aspects of architectural quality should never be in isolated from each other in praxis.

Architectural quality is a whole which only occurs when the three aspects of architectural quality are woven inextricably linked.

Thus, the strength of the modernistic architectural concept is, that the ideals in each of three corners - firmitas, utilitas and venustas - are closely interlinked.
The information reported by Vitruvius show an architectural construction devoted to an ideal of sobriety and severity, which goes well with the attic aesthetics, dominant in the first Augustus’ age.

This ideal includes the choice of a “giant order” for the colonnade, so the use of large columns as high as the two floors of the basilica, rising from the ground up to the roof trusses. In fact, such a solution could save labor and materials, while increasing the sense of “magnificence ”.
Unfortunately, the monumental ruins certainly belonging to the building have not been preserved and so is problematic and a source of age-old debates about its original location.

One of the hypotheses most often supported believes that the ruins located under the convent of St. Augustine belong to the basilica.
Those ruins were brought to light in the sixteenth century and have been the subject of a consistent campaign of excavations between 1840 and 1842 and an accurate measurement campaigns in nineties.
Prepared by :
The same goes for the external width of his building:
thickness of the wall: 5 feet;
width of the surrounding aisle: 20 feet;
thickness of the columns: 5 feet;
inner width of the nave between the columns: 60 feet.
Together we have an external width of 120 feet.
Or a proportion of 3:2.
The surrounding wall has on its inner face pilasters placed in line with the columns of the nave.

Like the pilasters described by Vitruvius

The ten Books Of Arciticture
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