Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vitruvius

I'm not much of a reader, I would rather watch a movie. That way I can make things and watch at the same time rather than using my hands to hold a book. BUT there is one book that I will never forget and love. It's Vitruvius' "The Ten Books of Architecture". I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves architecture or design.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman architect and engineer who was very ahead of his time in my opinion. His career began long before any of us existed or our ancestors for that matter...way back in the first century B.C. Vitruvius served in the Roman Army under Julius Caesar.

In this book Virtuvius talks about so many things that architects and engineers still take into consideration. He speaks about how the site for a building is important and how you need to start with a firm ground and a good foundation. He also talks about the positioning of buildings in regards to the sun rising and setting as well as the wind.

He also describes how to layout theaters to have the best acoustic quality and how to align the seating so it will sound best to those attending. He wrote about columns and the proportions for them. In a time before large industrial kilns were used to dehydrate wood fro building he talks about when is the best time of the year to harvest trees so there is not excess sap. And to even cut partially through the trunk to let the sap dry because damp lumber isn't good to build with.

He was a wealth of knowledge. But many of you probably know of Vitruvius in more of an indirect way. By the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. In the book Vitruvius discusses how the human body is composed of geometrical principles. If you have ever taken a drawing class where you drew people, you have used these principles without knowing.

Below is an excerpt of the book describing the human body, followed by da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.

"For the human body is so designed by nature that the face, from the chin to the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is a tenth part of the whole height; the open hand from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is just the same; the head from the chin to the crown is an eighth, and with the neck and shoulder from the top of the breast to the lowest roots of the hair is a sixth; from the middle of the breast to the summit of the crown is a fourth. If we take the height of the face itself, the distance from the bottom of the chin to the under side of the nostrils is one third of it; the nose from the under side of the nostrils to a line between the eyebrows is the same; from there to the lowest roots of the hair is also a third, comprising the forehead. The length of the foot is one sixth of the height of the body; of the forearm, one fourth; and the breadth of the breast is also one fourth. The other members, too, have their own symmetrical proportions, and it was by employing them that the famous painters and sculptors of antiquity attained to great and endless renown. Similarly, in the members of a temple there ought to be the greatest harmony in the symmetrical relations of the different parts to the general magnitude of the whole. Then again, in the human body the central point is naturally the navel. For if a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centred at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it. For if we measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are perfectly square."

25 comments:

  1. WOW!!! This is fascinating. How cool for someone from the first century B.C. to create principals still used today!!! I can see how you would get sucked into that!

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  2. I can see that you'd be drawn to that book, Angela. Your quilling is like miniature paper architecture ... and you do it so well!!!

    I wonder if you'd enjoy designing pop-up books. Have you ever seen how sophisticated and amazing some of them are?

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  3. The symmetry of the body is AMAZING. Shows there was some thought put into our creation! Very interesting post - thanks!

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  4. "In the book Vitruvius discusses how the human body is composed of geometrical principles." As a clothing pattern maker I couldn't agree more!

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  5. It's a natural for you. You design architectural boxes and beads.

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  6. I love it when someone can take discoveries in the past and show how they are still relevant, and I have always admired much of da Vinci's work. Thank you.

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  7. Very thoughtful and interesting post. Thank you.
    Judy Stalus

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  8. Are you trying to expand my horizons? Good Job.

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  9. I am very interested in reading this book! Thanks for passing the information along.

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  10. Your blog is fab! I love the quilling! My mum used to quill and it brings back lovely memories to see your pretty art :-)

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  11. Great book review! I'll have to check it out at the library (or amazon.com :)

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  12. I am with you, movies and busy hands at this point in my life. But there is something about a good book....

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  13. I might have to pick it up! Thanks for sharing.

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  14. How interesting! I learned something new today!

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  15. I had read about him years ago, but a great reminder, very interesting!

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  16. Angela - you make reading and art sound so exciting. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Fascinating! I think I'll have to get this book.

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  18. I know what book I'm going to check out next!

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  19. Very interesting---ideas and info many people don't even think about--thanks so much for posting it!
    marilyn g

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