VITRUVIUS (80BC – 15BC)

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, also known simply as Vitruvius, is an ancient roman engineer and architect. He was the first Roman architect to have written surviving records of his studies and works.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, old picture

image source: https://mathnexus.wwu.edu/mathpix/vitruvius.jpg

About His Life

Little is known of Vitruvius’ life, except what can be gathered from his writings, which are somewhat obscure on the subject. Clearly born in a prominent roman family, he served the Roman army as a military engineer. His service likely included Gaul, Spain and North Africa. Since Vitruvius describes himself as an old man, it may be inferred that he was also active during the time of Julius Caesar. In his final years he received a generous pension by Augustus. The date of his death is unknown.

info source: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Vitruvius.html

info source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Vitruvius

info source: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/architecture/vitruvius.htm

A deciption of Vitruvius presenting De Architectura to Augustus, Sebastian Le Clerc, 1684

image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvius#/media/File:Vitruvius.jpg

What where is major works?

Vitruvius wrote De Architectura, probably around 15 BC and dedicated it to the emperor AugustusThe contents reveal the ancients’ much wider concept of what exactly is ‘architecture’ and it describes such topics as science, mathematics, geometry, astronomy, astrology, medicine, meteorology, philosophy, and the importance of the effects of architecture, both aesthetic and practical, on the everyday life of citizens. But the treatise is limited, since it is based primarly on Greek models, and there are some important omissions: notably amphitheatres, aqueduct arcades, and some of what we today might consider the greatest Roman buildings, such as Roman baths, are dealt with only briefly.

info source: http://www.vitruvius-pollio.com/

info source: http://www.ancient.eu/Vitruvius/

De Architectura (Daniele Barbaro edition), Vitruvius, 1557

image source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-tk89FUolXS8/VVJik4KekaI/AAAAAAAAEi8/W9ryJDzL1Gg/s1600/vitruvio1.jpg

De Architectura is divided into 10 books:

  1. Town planning, architecture or civil engineering in general, and the qualifications required of an architect or the civil engineer
  2. Building materials: bricks, sand, lime, pozzolan concrete; kinds of sone and types of stone masonry; timber
  3. Temples and the orders of architecture
  4. Continuation of book III
  5. Civil buildings
  6. Domestic buildings
  7. Interior decorations and wall paintings
  8. Water supplies and aqueducts
  9. Sciences influencing architecture –geometry, measurement, astronomy, sundial
  10. Use and construction of machines- Roman siege engines, water mills, drainage machines, Roman technology, hoisting, pneumatics

info source: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Vitruvius/home.html

Greek house plan, Vitruvius

image source: http://www.basiccarpentrytechniques.com/Ten%20Books%20on%20Architecture%20by%20Vitruvius/images/052.jpg

The only building, however, that we know Vitruvius to have worked on is one he tells us about, a basilica completed at Fanum Fortunae, now Fano, in 19 BC. Today nothing is left of it.

info source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228404338_Vitruvius’_Basilica_at_Fano_the_drawings_of_a_lost_building_from_De_Architectura_Libri_Decem

What was is vision?

The Vitruvian picture of architecture is rooted in experiential knowledge of making, doing, and crafting. Vitruvius’ main preoccupation is to write a useful work. Precisely the kind of text Vitruvius writes reveals an encyclopaedic choice. In Vitruvius’ vision of architecture, nature is the ideal model, and he makes it an object of philosophical enquiry. His goal is to present architecture as a worthy part of the encyclopaedic programme.

Info source:  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/architecture/tradition.html

Info source:  Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance

 

The ionic order compared with order of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, The Ten Books on Architecture, Vitruvius

image source: http://www.basiccarpentrytechniques.com/Ten%20Books%20on%20Architecture%20by%20Vitruvius/images/021.jpg

Who was influenced by Vitruvius?

The work was hugely influential from the Renaissance period onwards. Niccoli, Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti found in De architectura their rationale for raising their branch of knowledge to a scientific discipline as well as emphasising the skills of the artisan. Leonardo da Vinci‘s best known drawing, the Vitruvian man, is based on the concepts of proportion developed by Vitruvius. The 16th-century architect Palladio considered Vitruvius his master and guide.

info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_architectura

Vitruvian Man, Vitruvius; illustrated edition by Cesare Cesariano, 1521

image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvius#/media/File:De_Architectura030.jpg