Geometry, Taste, Analysis
“Instituzione pratica dell’architettura civile per la decorazione de’ pubblici, e privati edifici” is one of only two Books written by the Italian Architect Paolo Federico Bianchi. The book is divided into two parts, one written and one illustrated. Its focus lies on the analysis of mostly ancient architecture and what one can learn of it. By dividing the book into two main parts it becomes something like a manual, a reference book or even a lexicon on architecture. This “manual” is intended for both draftsmen and artisans.
After a rather short introduction on the use of geometry in architecture, Bianchi goes on with his analysis on different types of Architecture and decoration. At first, he describes what he defines as “Buon Gusto”. Then he summarizes the Tuscan, the Doric, the Ionic, the Roman and the Corinthian orders. In the third and last chapter of the written part, he refers to columns, doors, windows, and other important parts of a “bello e nobile edificio”. He furthermore writes about how to combine the different orders.
Almost every of its written chapters gets underpinned with illustrations in the second part of the book. On geometry for example, four tables with many drawings can be found which deal with basic geometrical rules and insights. But those drawings not only consist of basic forms like polygons and circles, there are also three-dimensional bodies and even some references to architectural construction like a floor plan of what looks like a central construction building, joints between beams and a section of a bricked arch. The rest of the over 150 pages dedicated to illustrations evolves around the main chapters with the orders and the different building parts like columns and their decoration. Here he really goes into detail on their decorative parts like the capitals and gives hints to find the right dimensions.
“A voler adunque definire la Decorazione, o il Buon gusto in che confifta nell’ Architettura , dovrein dire , che la un grazioso incontro del gusto , che più universalmente ne concepisce il senso degli uomini alla vista di una Fabbrica. Perchè il Buon gusto non è tanto per se nella più ordinata , e vaga dispofizione di un lavoro, quanto che relativamente all’accordo di ogni cosa coll’ aga gradimento , e coll’ applaufo , ond’ è ricevuto più universalmente dagli uomini.”
This quote from page 78 clarifies Bianchis definition of good taste and even gives some conclusion on the concept of the whole book. Further up on that same page he says that architecture as a form of art which was born of industry and cultivated by reason, needs experiments and rules to please the eye of any man.
Bianchis concept of analytic guidance runs through the whole book. With its help, one should be able to understand architecture with its important decorative parts and to design beautiful architectural buildings.
Patrick Steiner, 20-937-207, Weeber