Architectural Knowledge

Architectural Knowledge


B. Peruzzi: Project for St. Peter (c. 1515).

In my contribution to this workshop on the structure of practical knowledge, I try to outline the structure of architectural knowledge in the long 16th century. The paper is divided into three parts.

In the first part, it addresses the social dimension of the structure of architectural knowledge, which is not regarded a particular feature of this field of practical knowledge but one that can be studied in almost every complex field of such knowledge. In the second part, the focus lies on the central figure of the field of architectural knowledge, namely the architect. Special attention is paid to the development of the scope of his tasks in the Renaissance and to a trend towards specialization among architects. Finally, some aspects of the mathematical knowledge of Renaissance architects are the topic of the third and last part. Particularly the knowledge structure of geometrical procedures will be discussed that were employed and developed by architects over centuries and cannot regarded as applications of learned (Euclidean) geometry; rather these procedures eventually constituted the starting point of a new sub-discipline of learned geometry – descriptive geometry.

  • "The Emergence of Combined Orthographic Projections." In: W. Lefèvre (ed.): Picturing Machines – 1400-1700. Cambridge, MA (The MIT Press) 2004, pp. 209-244.