The Ancients vs. The Moderns
The book Universae Architectuvrae Civilis Elementa was written by Christiano Rieger and was published in 1756. The purpose of the author was to write down a modernized version of the orders and how they should be applied in current times.
He explains that the orders of the ancients, for example as Vitruvius had explained and defined them, couldn’t be used the same way nowadays, as time has changed. He sees that the architects are lost, as they have no clear rules about the modern orders. They are looking for certain regulations to be able to construct in a correct way and so, he offers his book as a guideline for all architects. The fact that there is a difference between the orders of the ancients and the orders of the moderns is key, as it is the main reason for having to write a book about it.
To get to why the ancient orders aren’t still valid, Christiano Rieger starts by analyzing where actually the orders come from. He explains the origins of architecture and in this subject matter, he has the same opinion as Vitruvius; The beginning of architecture would come from the desire of the humans of protecting themselves from any climatic trouble, like rain, cold weather or wind. As follows, architecture started as a need and then developed herself into a more artistic matter.
When talking about the orders, he explains that there are five classical orders. Three orders come from the Greek culture: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian. The remaining two orders have an Italian heritage and are the Tuscan and the Roman order. Differently to Vitruvius, he also mentions the “modern” orders, for example the Teutonic, the German, the French or the Spanish.
Rieger then proceeds explaining that there are two ways of characterizing an order. The first one would be following its exterior and historical characteristics; there the order is defined by the common agreeing of the public on what the characteristics are. This means, the authority relies on the people. The second way of stipulating an order would be following its philosophical and interior characteristics, which are based on the proportions. Each order has certain proportions and by knowing them, you are able to construct correctly in that specific order. The author favors more the second method, as in his opinion, this would give the needed perfection and harmony to the order to by defined as such.
Subsequently, the chapter about the construction of the orders explains each order and each component of the order and how the proportions should be.
This way is how the whole book is structured: Rieger explains the knowledge he has about the ancient orders and continues by strongly determining how the orders should be now used in modern times.
Origin – Orders – Comparison