Keywords: material, qualities, efficiency
In “A complete body of architecture” by Isaac Ware, the entire first book of 10 is dedicated to materials. In the first book, we gain an understanding of different materials’ uses, properties, conditions, qualities, nature, and aesthetics. Detailed descriptions of principle materials in building, stone and timber, decorate the first few pages. This is followed by which substances are in cement and mortar and the nature, preservation and locations of lime and sand. Furthermore, the book delves into metals such as Lead and Iron. It even goes so far as to illustrate a detailed plan of a kiln to burn bricks and describes the best time to cut a tree to acquire its wood.
Even though the subject of materials is most prevalent in the first book, the theme continues along the next 9. Different materials for columns, the correct way to align bricks and the construction types of wooden and stone bridges are only some of the many examples throughout the books.
Understanding materials is necessary to build any kind of structure and is a basis for the noble science of architecture. This is why the author puts this important aspect at the beginning of the book and delves so far into detail. Only after introducing the reader to materials can the author move onto the subject of building houses in the second book. A deep understanding of materials ensures a sturdy build that doesn’t crack. With this basic knowledge, an architect can learn how to properly construct elements like columns and powerful bridges that can hold weight. In each chapter the use of materials is important, from the chapter of ornaments, columns, the general practice of architecture, pipes, to Doors, windows and decorations. In all of these chapters the materials define how what is built looks, is constructed and how much it costs. The arithmetic chapter even shows how to calculate how much of a material is needed for specific situations, from which we can find out how much it costs.
The correct uses of materials fulfill aesthetic purposes as well. Isaac Ware often talks about elegance, and I believe materiality plays a large role in this. In the chapter on chimney pieces, the different marbles are listed, and their respective elegance is expressed. This highlights that the choice of material and their nature makes a large impact on how people view the space and what impression It makes. This comprehension of space and its materiality is fundamental to architecture.
Quote: “Strength is so great a consideration in all buildings; that their elegance and convenience are of no consequence without it; and there is no way of giving them strength but a knowledge of the materials.”