Concept Structure – Geometric Resolutions
The book « Résolution des quatre principaux problèmes d’architecture » by the French architect François Blondel includes 86 pages (plus a few more pages of drawings at the end) and was written in 1673. It starts with a letter written to Monseigneur Colbert, the Minister and Secretary of State. Following is the table of content, where it becomes visible, that the book is divided in four main chapters each addressing one problem of architecture. His goal is to provide the readers with resolutions to these problems. The chapters are as follows:
1. How to geometrically describe columns: He describes the columns in several ways and at once, thus providing information about the outline of the enlargement and reduction of the columns.
2. How to geometrically describe arches: In specific he describes the ascending arches. There, he refers to the Greek philosopher Apollonius (who is partisan of Pythagoras and his teaching).
3. How to geometrically find the true joints of all steep arches: He tries to clarify and maybe simplify the process of calculating the joints. Therefore, one should be able not only to calculate, but also to check the joints of the arches.
4. How to find the line on which to cut the beams: It is important to cut all the beams correctly, in order to make them all equally strong and resistant.
The chapters do not include a lot of illustrations or drawings. There are only a few in each chapter that provide us with more clarification on Blondel’s ideas. All these illustrations are cleanly drawn and therefore appear very precise and clear. Only sometimes he includes illustrations that do not solely work as help but also as a pleasant and appealing way to introduce the new chapter (e.g., picture 1).
As mentioned, Blondel does not use a lot of imagery, but plenty of well-structured writings to explain his thoughts in the four chapters. Although his texts predominate, he does not fill the whole page, he leaves space on the side, maybe to let the readers take notes and write down comments as they are reading.
To conclude the book, François Blondel detours from his “writing-strictness” and ends with various drawings/calculations of boards, beams and arches. There are eight fully covert pages of drawings on these different kinds of calculations.