De Re Aedificatoria

De Re Aedificatoria

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De re aedificatoria is a classic architectural treatise written by Leon Battista Alberti between 1443 and 1452. Although largely dependent on Vitruvius
Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

' De architectura
De architectura
' is a treatise on architecture written by the Roman architect Vitruvius and dedicated to his patron, the emperor Caesar Augustus, as a guide for building projects...

, it was the first theoretical book on the subject written in the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 and in 1485 became the first printed book on architecture. It was followed in 1486 with the first printed edition of Vitruvius.

Alberti’s Ten Books consciously echoes Vitruvius' writing, but he also adopts a critical attitude toward his predecessor. In his discussion, Alberti includes a wide variety of literary sources, including Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, presenting concise version of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 of architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

. De re aedificatoria is subdivided into ten books and includes:
  • Book One: Lineaments
  • Book Two: Materials
  • Book Three: Construction
  • Book Four: Public Works
  • Book Five: Works of Individuals
  • Book Six: Ornament
  • Book Seven: Ornament to Sacred Buildings
  • Book Eight: Ornament to Public Secular Buildings
  • Book Nine: Ornament to Private Buildings
  • Book Ten: Restoration of Buildings


In his survey of desirable floor plans for sacred buildings— "temples" in his phrase— Alberti begins with the ideal form of the circle, which is expressed in numerous examples of Nature. Nine ideal centrally-planned geometrical shapes are recommended for churches; besides the circle he lists the square, the hexagon, octagon, decagon and dodecagon, all derived from the circle, and, derived from the square, rectangles that exhibit the square and a half, square and a third and double square, all of which have enharmonic parallels in music. Chapels add small geometric figures to the basic circles and polygons to give a great variety of floor plans, in which each geometrical figure retains its clear unity and simple ratios that bind all elements of the plans and elevations into a harmonic unity.

De Re Aedificatoria remained the classic treatise on architecture from the 16th until the 18th century.

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