The Vitruvian Architect – the required education

Following the recent posts following my trip to Rome, I’d thought I’d share these nuggets from Vitruvius Pollio on the ‘varied branches of study and varied kinds of learning’ required of the Renaissance architect. I summarise. Enjoy:

1. Knowledgeable in many and varied areas.

2. A thorough knowledge of theory AND practice

3. Be naturally gifted yet open to instruction

4. A knowledge of drawing and be able to make sketches and solve geometrical theories and methods through drawing.

5. A wide knowledge of architectural history

6. A wide knowledge of historical history !

7. Philosophy, this also includes funnily enough physics

8. Music – musical and classical architectural theory are combined

9. Acoustics

10. Medicine – I like this one as it covers unhealthy sites and effectively ‘sick-building’ syndrome centuries ahead of its time.

11. Years of experience and learning

12. A liberal education

13. The architect should effectively be ‘The Jack of all trades but master of none’ – when compared to the greats such as Hippocrates in medicine and Aristoxenus the musician.

14. Forget 13. You need to be pretty good at everything

15. More of the above

16. Astronomy

17. Not necessarily a great speller or grammar.

3 thoughts on “The Vitruvian Architect – the required education

  1. Vitruvius was certainly ahead of his time and the majority of Master Builders/Architects over the centuries did follow his advice. However in recent times Architects seem more interested in how the building looks rather than how easy it is to build for a reasonable cost and with the lowest running costs. As a result people have become disillusioned with the profession and some avoid it altogether which brings it’s own problems.

    Don’t get me wrong there are some fabulous architects who understands all aspects of the profession as outlined by Vitruvious but unfortunately they are few and far between.

    A possible solution is to adopt a collaborative approach where a small team of professionals such as architect, engineer(s) and builder/contractor come together at the start of the project and work together with the client to design and build the project. This team will ensure that the best result is achieved for the client and within budget.

    1. All good points, funnily enough I’m working on a project which is done in a similar way to the way you describe. The client has set budget, the whole team are working towards a single aim to do the best we can with the money available; incredibly the contractor is working on day rates and everything is still on budget. I don’t normally work this way and you could only do it with people you really trust.

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