Ten Books on Architecture, by Vitruvius — Free Project Gutenberg EBook

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, an illustration of the human body inscribed in the circle and the square derived from a passage about geometry and human proportions in Vitruvius’s writings

The concept of building with natural materials is nothing new. It was codified by Vitruvius, who wrote his treatise De architectura at the end of the 1st century BC. The work consisted of ten scrolls, or volumes, and has survived as major work on architecture for over 2000 years. It’s now available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg

“Vitruvius is famous for asserting…that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas — that is, it must be strong or durable, useful, and beautiful. According to Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of nature. As birds and bees built their nests, so humans constructed housing from natural materials, that gave them shelter against the elements. When perfecting this art of building, the Ancient Greek invented the architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. It gave them a sense of proportion, culminating in understanding the proportions of the greatest work of art: the human body. This led Vitruvius in defining his Vitruvian Man, as drawn later by Leonardo da Vinci: the human body inscribed in the circle and the square (the fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order).”

-Above quote and Leonardo drawing from Wikipedia

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

3 Responses to Ten Books on Architecture, by Vitruvius — Free Project Gutenberg EBook

  1. Oh Yeah! Vitruvius what a great author. Reading him is like returning to the basic. He had a great influence to Palladio that had written a book in the 16 century about classical building. His book serve to almost all the building so call classical buildings (even the modern replicas ) , in establishing a proportion of height/diameter/ spacing of colums. So the architects used it on and on for centuries giving the image that they were genius but in fact they were following a receipe with little creativity. Vitrivius and Palladio were really passionates and freaks of architecture. Another of my favorite is a book from the fench archeologist –architect Viollet-le-Duc : dictionnaire raisoné de l’architecture (available in english ). Beside fantastic drawings, he his also a specialist of history and philosophy of the middle ages which is mixed in the descriptions of buildings. And the book has a good chunk on the clothing , the armors, and other objects of the period . With all the scrap that many contemporary architects does , they would greatly gain in reading that book that was written 150 years ago. Just like Vitruvius ,it is returning to the basic of architecture. Claude

  2. Oh Yeah! Vitruvius what a great author. Reading him is like returning to the basic. He had a great influence to Palladio that had written a book in the 16 century about classical building. His book serve to almost all the building so call classical buildings (even the modern replicas ) , in establishing a proportion of height/diameter/ spacing of colums. So the architects used it on and on for centuries giving the image that they were genius but in fact they were following a receipe with little creativity. Vitrivius and Palladio were really passionates and freaks of architecture. Another of my favorite is a book from the fench archeologist –architect Viollet-le-Duc : dictionnaire raisoné de l’architecture (available in english ). Beside fantastic drawings, he his also a specialist of history and philosophy of the middle ages which is mixed in the descriptions of buildings. And the book has a good chunk on the clothing , the armors, and other objects of the period . With all the scrap that many contemporary architects does , they would greatly gain in reading that book that was written 150 years ago. Just like Vitruvius ,it is returning to the basic of the purpose of building

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