Concept: Residential Buildings
Keywords: Materials, Calculations, Properties
«A Key to Civil Architecture or the Universal Builder” is the work of the carpenter Thomas Skaife, in which he goes into detail explaining each property of a building, which ranges from the foundation the chimney. The work, published in 1774 in London, was available to the public.
The Book consists of 82 chapters, or “lectures”, and in each the author goes into depth of a particular property of a building, including for example the roof, decorations like the stucco or painting, and even the number of nails that are needed for flooring. The author also added lectures in material and in arithmetic, extraction of the roots, duodecimals at the end of the book. Each chapter is divided into an explanation of a particular part of a building, followed by examples, rules, and calculations with explanations if needed. He also goes into depth explaining Jewish, Greek, and Roman temples and some history behind it, including the purpose of the buildings, who the commissioners were, and he went into detail of a few parts of the buildings, like for example the columns. The purpose was to explain what we can learn from them in terms of science, the strength of buildings and hydraulics.
The book includes multiple tables (including the multiplication table), values, and exemplary calculations for a better comprehension. The author even included the prices in pound of various materials, for example how much bricks per a thousand cost at that time.
The author also added lectures in material and in arithmetic, extraction of the roots, duodecimals at the end of the book.
In my opinion, the most interesting thing about the book is, that the author himself, Thomas Skaife, was not a builder or architect, but a carpenter who possessed a deep knowledge in this matter, and who wrote this book of 300+ pages in his leisure time. The book is very text-heavy and dense in information, but it is very simply and understandably written.