ABC for architects (Vitruvius)

The good old Romans knew how to build…

Vitruvius 15th C. manuscript









Read this: (the first sections from chapter 1 from Vitruvius handbook for ‘architecture’), over 2000 years old, but the ‘core competences’ necessary to become a good archi-tectus are still relevant.

Text in English and Latijn

1. The science of the architect depends upon many disciplines and various apprenticeships which are carried out in other arts. The particularity of an architect’s work consists in a combination of craftsmanship and technological insight. Craftsmanship is the continued and familiar practice, carried out by the hands in such material as is necessary for the purpose of a design. Technological insight sets forth and explains how the things wrought are in accordance with technical skill and method.
2. So architects who without culture (without books) aim at manual skill, cannot gain a prestige corresponding to their labours, while those who trust to theory and literature alone, obviously follow a shadow and not reality. But those who have mastered both, like men equipped in full armour, soon acquire authority and attain their purpose.

Vitruvii De Architectura, Liber Primus

1. Architecti est scientia pluribus disciplinis et variis eruditionibus ornata, [cuius iudicio probantur omnia] quae ab ceteris artibus perficiuntur. Opera* ea nascitur ex fabrica et ratiocinatione. Fabrica est continuata ac trita usus meditatio, quae manibus perficitur e materia cuiuscumque generis opus est ad propositum deformationis. Ratiocinatio autem est, quae res fabricatas sollertia ac rationis proportione demonstrare atque explicare potest.
2. Itaque architecti qui sine litteris contenderant ut manibus essent exercitati, non potuerunt efficere, ut haberent pro laboribus auctoritatem; qui autem ratiocinationibus et litteris solis confisi fuerant, umbram non rem persecuti videntur. at qui utrumque perdidicerunt, uti omnibus armis ornati citius cum auctoritate quod fuit propositum sunt adsecuti.

* Opera = singularis (f.)